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Labour Against the Witch Hunt: Downing Versus Greenstein Battle joined by “Pro-Imperialist” Fourth International.

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Downing: Responds to Witch-Hunting in Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. 

While Tony Greenstein eats his weight in mince pies, and sets up a cash appeal that the wits of the Web have dubbed, “the Greenstein Pie Fund”, Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight have not been idling away their days scarfing down seasonal goodies.

Nor has out tip-top team of international investigative reporters on the trail of the latest developments in Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW).

A 700 pages defence of Socialist Fight’s democratic rights hit the Net a couple of days ago,

Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism

Socialist Fight statement on renewed witchhunting in ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’.

Workers’ democracy is under attack in the infant Labour Party campaign group ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’. Despite a clear rejection by a properly constituted meeting of LAW on 2 Dec, of the executive’s attempt to exclude by dictat supporters of Socialist Fight, some members of the executive are defying that decision and have launched a campaign to overturn it. A flimsy motivation for this has been penned by Tony Greenstein, with the backing of the guru of the CPGB, Jack Conrad, whose organisation printed Greenstein’s article in their paper on December 14th.

On the 19th of December the Labour Movement was roused by the latest revelations from Socialist Fight.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan

Comrades and friends,

Please see if you can make this. We would appreciate some help and votes on 6 January.

Gerry

The LAW meeting is at 12 noon on 6 January in the Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan against the Tony Greenstein/Weekly Worker Witchhunt in Labour Against the Witchhunt on 6 January

Dear Comrades,

 On 9 March 2016 Gerry Downing, a leading member of Socialist Fight, was expelled from the Labour party without a hearing or a right to appeal on the instigation of right wing Tory blogger, Guido Fawkes, which prompted David Cameron to ask a question in the House of Commons on his anti-imperialist positions on the Twin Towers and ISIS.

He was auto-excluded within two hours. On 2 April John Lansman followed up the witchhunt by getting a unanimous vote to expel him from the Labour Representation Committee for anti-Semitism. This had to be withdrawn because their Barrister would not say who presented the charge, what the actual charge was and refused to define anti-Semitism.
The Left Unity Disputes Committee rejected earlier charges of anti-Semitism against Ian Donovan laid by the Weekly Worker’s Communist Platform on 14 September 2014.

Finally, a broad campaign, Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), was launched on 21 October 2017 because professor Moshé Machover was auto-excluded, and, as the Labour Party Marxists reported he was only “one of a long line of socialists, Corbyn supporters and defenders of Palestinian rights expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism”. Socialist Fight participated in that launch in the persons of Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and contributed to the discussion and to the collection, expecting to assist in its work.

 The sorry tale continues,

However soon after that launch one Lee Rock began a vitriolic witch hunt against us, claiming we were anti-Semitic and should be expelled from LAW. The three remaining LAW Steering Committee members, Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker (Peter Firmin had resigned), duly obliged by auto-excluding us without a hearing or right to appeal, the very practice the group was set up to overturn in the Labour party. We were instructed not to attend to next LAW meeting as we were no longer members and we were blocked from the LAW Facebook page.

However, we did turn up early for the meeting on 2nd December with 3 supporters and, as Tony Greenstein reported the meeting was “effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight” i.e. our band of 5 managed to persuade the meeting, some 24 at its height, to refuse to accept the undemocratic, not to say autocratic, decisions of the triumvirate. We were accepted back in and reinstated in the Facebook page by Tony Greenstein.

 

For those who retain the will to live after reading that there is this:

 

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the matter. On 14 December Tony Greenstein resumed the witch hunt in an article in the Weekly Worker, Anti-Semites not welcome, Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In it he pledged to try again to expel Socialist Fight from the next LAW meeting. This is his stance:

“There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left.”
 
This is an appalling political stance, a refusal to accept labour movement democracy unless his views prevail, and demanding others walk out with him. Neither Gerry Downing nor Ian Donovan not any member or supporter of Socialist Fight, past or present, are in any way anti-Semitic. We are members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are well-known defenders of Palestinian rights and opponents of the state of Israel. No one can point to a single act or political stance that is in any way racist or anti-Semitic except in the minds of those who want to appease the Labour party bureaucracy of Ian McNichol by proving they are neither revolutionary socialists and agree with him that Trotskyists should not be afforded any democratic rights whatsoever, a throwback to the Great Purges in the USSR in the 1930s and 1940s.

 Finally….

 

We appeal to you comrades to:

1.     Attend the meeting on 6 January, come a half an hour early, and speak and vote in our defence. It is an open meeting.
2.     Append you name to this statement by email or on our website, see below:
I defend the right of Socialist Fight Comrades to attend ad participate in the Labour Against the Witchhunt and reject the slurs of anti-Semitism directed against Socialist Fight and its two leading comrades, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

What promises to be the must-be-at event of 2018 will be even spicier than one of Greensteins’ many pastries after the latest spat.

We expect to see some interesting scenes at the entrance to the Calthorpe Arms.

Will LAW exclude Socialist Fight and its allies from attending?

Massed petitions, Greenstein throwing stale mince pies, and lots of wobblies, are not ruled out.

It is called Socialist Fight after all.

To add to fuel to the fire another controversy has just broken out.

The Fourth International in Manchester Group published today an unkind piece of cde Downing which included the following,

Downing, not to be confused with Gerry Healy (though that little Gerry was once the big man for our future star), has written reams about the break-up of the WRP, and he will surely beat Donovan for the role, but this time in a rather more downbeat version of the film, ‘Bus Driver’ perhaps. Socialist Fight, which proclaims itself to be the British Section of the ‘Liaison Committee for the Fourth International’ (with three other appendages), is the latest incarnation of Downing after his Workers International League and its paper ‘Workers Action’ hit the buffers. Donovan, meanwhile, has form in many different roles, having been through more far-left groups than you have had hot dinners, and he’ll get a bit part. Just as he does now in Downing’s Socialist Fight, which has given Donovan a home following his well-deserved expulsion from the CPGB-PCC. The film-score, by the way, will be by jazz saxophonist and antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Phew!

And,

In the tiny narcissistic and paranoiac world of Socialist Fight, there is a ‘Jewish Bourgeoisie’ that has intimate direct ties to the State of Israel, and it is this conspiratorial vision of the world that supposedly explains why the Jews who are, we are told, ‘over-represented’ in the ruling class must be called out. Full-blown ‘anti-Zionism’ must, according to Downing and Donovan, name this Jewish bourgeoisie as an influence to be rooted out, and so (as many hard-line Zionists would predict and wish) anti-Zionism shades into antisemitism. This is no longer socialism as such. No wonder these two are admired by Gilad Atzmon who has made a disgusting speciality of celebrating self-hatred – a Jew who hates, he says, every bit of him that reminds him that he is Jewish – and no wonder that they return the favour.

the Manchester Fourth Internationalists compare Downing to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, who “doesn’t really have a plan or know where he is going”.

Ideological debate on this is intense. Many other comrades think a character out of The League of Gentlemen is more appropriate, somebody who brings a certain joy to the lives of local people.

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Naturally this roused the ire of cde Downing.

The Fourth International in Manchester attack Socialist Fight. From the group that is now so pro imperialist left that it gave full support to the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya on behalf of NATO via the renegade Trotskyist Gilbert Atchcar (sic) and Syria via the imperialist backed jihadists and the fascist-led Maiden coup in Ukraine.”

And now this shower of Trotskyist renegade attacks the principled anti imperialism of Socialist Fight, whose record of support for every anti imperialist struggle, beginning in Ireland and ranging from Libya to Syria to Ukraine, South Africa and North Korea and Cuba and Zimbabwe. Unconditional but critical support via the Anti Imperialis United Front as opposed to all that grovelling before the masters of life for the FIIMG.

Socialist Fight.

All is not lost.

We learn that the Downingites have also recruited a valuable ally against Greensteinism and all of its works, and no doubt the Fourth International, “My group the International Bolshevik Tendency has disagreements with Socialist Fight but Downing is quite good at sticking to issues and steering clear from ad hominem, slander and what have you. The same can’t be said for some on the left.”

 

 

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Ken Loach to speak in defence of Anti-Semites of Socialist Fight? – Ken Livingstone and Tariq Ali “invited”.

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This Week: Mass Support for Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

The Newshounds of Shiraz have scooped us on this one, but this remains an interesting development in the shambles that is LAW.

Reporting on the latest rows in Labour Against the Witchhunt the latest Weekly Worker states,

The meeting included a discussion on the participation within LAW of Socialist Fight. The steering committee had taken the decision to exclude SF from the campaign because of the group’s position on Jews, which can only be described as anti-Semitic.

SF declares that Jewish “overrepresentation” amongst the bourgeoisie is a major factor explaining imperialist backing for Israel. At the meeting itself SF’s Ian Donovan stated that, while this “overrepresentation” “doesn’t determine everything”, it “determines quite a lot”. He also talked about the undue influence of “Jewish communalist politics”, while the SF leaflet handed out at the meeting stated that “Jews” today have become “an oppressor people”.

The SC sought approval from the meeting for its decision to exclude SF from LAW – on the basis that a campaign which places a large emphasis on its opposition to the disgraceful, knowingly false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ wielded by the right against principled anti-racists should not itself tolerate individuals whose public pronouncements are clearly anti-Semitic. To do otherwise opens us up to claims that we cannot be taken seriously when we say the right’s accusations are nothing but smears – after all, it would then appear that we ourselves cannot tell the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Labour Party Marxists put forward a motion, directed against not only Socialist Fight, but also the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty:

LAW does not wish to be associated with those who excuse the ongoing witch-hunt in the Labour Party: ie, support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone. Nor do we wish to associate with those who advocate anti-Semitism: ie, those who explain US and other imperialist countries’ foreign policy on the basis of the number of Jews in the ruling class.

Unfortunately neither this motion nor one from the steering committee, which called for its decision to exclude SF to be endorsed, was successful. Only nine comrades were in favour of endorsing the SC position, with 12 against, plus a number of abstentions; as for the LPM motion, there were 12 votes in favour and 12 against, and so it was not carried either.

The organ of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) admits,

the participation of Socialist Fight remains in our view a problem that might well have to be revisited.

But let that not detract from the useful role that LAW intends to play – now is the time to really step up the campaign.

They add,

In the meantime, LAW is organising what it hopes will be a public launch meeting on January 29. Ken Loach has already agreed to speak and a number of others such as Tariq Ali and Ken Livingstone have been invited.

Former prominent Liberal Democrat Tariq Ali, (“In the tightly fought battle for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of prominent writer and film maker Tariq Ali, who says he will be backing the party in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Ali, who lives in the constituency, is a long-time critic of the Government over the war in Iraq.”March 2005) may have second thoughts when asked about his participation, as no doubt might Livingstone.

Our ace reporters will chase up Ken Loach….

In the meantime Socialist Fight publishes this today,

The United States would be blamed, rightly, for encouraging Israel to annex East Jerusalem and all that follows. This is why previous administrations, even when they pandered to the most hardline elements of the powerful Jewish-Zionist caste within their own ruling class (and their fellow travellers), hesitated to actually do this. Obama paid lip service to this idea when he was trying to get elected but shied away from it in power.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

As Labour Against the Withchunt Collapses in Infighting: “Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ (that’s enough Witchhunts ED)

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Witch Hunters themselves, say Socialist Fight.

Amongst the eternal classics of the workers’ movement, As Soon as this Pub Closes stands tall.

A dog-eared copy exists in the Coatesite archives.

It opens with this,

THE entrance to the conference hall is nearly deserted. The delegates have retired to adjacent hostelries to sink enough pints to allow them to sleep through the afternoon debate, so most literature sellers have taken a break.

Only two groups remain. One, the Spartacist League, are chanting ‘General Strike Now’, while another, the International Communist Party, try to drown them out with ‘Build the ICFI’ – International Committee of the Fourth International to the uninitiated. Do they hope to convert each other? Or myself, the only other listener? Surely not, but each feels that the first to leave would be chicken. I am glad my daughter is not in sight as she is probably warm and dry – on the other hand, she has my coat. Resisting the temptation to raise my own slogan – ‘Smash neo-Kantian revisionism!’ – I leave both groups to the sardonic screaming of the gulls. The rain drizzles from a lead-grey sky as I walk to the station. ‘So what’, you may say, ‘I never did care for Brighton.’ However, the two groups, and their rivals who have gone to lunch, form the core of organised British socialism. If a bureaucrat temporarily wakes from his slumber during the afternoon and feels any guilt about applauding the hypocritical rhetoric coming from the platform, he has certainly in his youth been a supporter of one of the socialist groups. This work is to be commended for providing the uninitiated with a guide through the labyrinth.

Yet the Tendance considers that even John Sullivan would find it hard going navigating this one.

Breaking news from our Ace reporters…

Hold the Front Page: anti-semites not to be expelled!

To our considerable relief and greatly to the credit of those attending the meeting, the proposal to exclude Socialist Fight from the Labour Against the Witchhunt campaign, made by the three members of the executive, was rejected. In fact, two votes were held effectively on the proposed exclusion, one was closely lost and one slightly different but in effect the same was tied, therefore also falling. Our own broader motion was lost 5 votes for, 8 against and 8 abstentions.

In the interests of getting LAW on an even keel, we are not going to go into more detail. But we do note that SF supporters were the only organised left tendency present arguing for a non-exclusionist united front campaign of the entire Labour Left against this witchhunt, with the only real condition for participation being a complete, principled opposition to all exclusions of the people on the left. Outside of that, there should be no exclusions of any left-wing current from the campaign.

We in Socialist Fight welcome this victory for working class norms of democracy and will do everything we can to build LAW as such a principled united front campaign, aimed precisely at broadening the space in the Labour Party for political and programmatic debate, including over contentious questions involving political Zionism and the Middle East.

Once the issue of our non-exclusion was resolved, there were some useful discussions on among other things organising a LAW public meeting in January in London, with another one planned for Birmingham on 30th Jan also. There were some important debates about the wider Labour Left and the witchhunt; the meeting voted to withdraw support from Ann Black as an NEC member nominated and supported by the left who has participated enthusiastically in the witchhunt, and to demand a wider repudiation of Ms Black by the left.

There was a powerful speech by Grassroots Black Left activist Mark Wadsworth, a Labour member and long-time anti-racist campaigner who was outrageously suspended by Labour for ‘anti-semitism’ for challenging the collaboration of right-wing MP Ruth Smeeth with the Tory media at the Labour press conference on the launch of the Chakrabarti Report into antisemitism on 30 June 2016. The comrade’s address drew considerable applause. A model motion for Labour Party bodies, coming from the Grassroots Black Left, containing a very powerful attack on the unlawful trawling of social media by the witch hunters, was approved by the meeting. We will reproduce it later when we have the text.

LAW resolved to meet monthly; we will hold the next meeting in early January. And the interim executive was expanded to include Steve Price of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Deborah Hobson of the Grassroots Black Left, making a broader-based five-strong executive.

Seek ‘Safe Space’ from real Anti-Imperialism/Anti-Zionism

It would seem absurd in the middle of a campaign against socialists in the Labour Party, for part of the left, itself under attack with suspensions and expulsions, to refuse to defend others and imply that some socialists really are worthy of expulsion. Such behaviour would surely be regarded as grotesque treachery by any class conscious worker.

Apparently three members of the Steering Committee of ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’, an organisation that has held one national meeting (on October 21st) have decided that Socialist Fight, one of only two organised Marxist trends at the initial meeting, are to be excluded. A statement to this effect was published in the Weekly Worker of 23 November..

Socialist Fight (SF) finds the weak point in the arguments used by this crew. Why exclude the AWL for their hostility to all forms of anti-semitism, including a left-wing version, when they’ve got rid of their groupuscule on the grounds that it is ‘anti-semitic’ (in reality, informed sources suggest that the reason is that SF is seen by even committed ‘anti-Zios’ as too wild, a tactical rather than principled decision).

So apparently the AWL are unwelcome, not for their actions, which our intrepid three cannot quarrel with in principle judging by the above, but for their ideas. Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and thus believing in ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ which is apparently a ‘myth’.

But if ‘left-wing anti-semitism’ is a ‘myth’, how come Socialist Fight is being excluded on the basis of the same myth? For two of the three signatories of the above statement are fellow-travellers of the Weekly Worker/CPGB, supporting its allied group in the Labour Party, known as Labour Party Marxists, as is comrade Keable, or a years-long sympathiser and contributor, as is comrade Greenstein. It is not clear where comrade Walker stands with regard to this, but she appears to concur with them in any case, so the question is abstract.

Consistency is not the CPGB’s strong suit. Their anathema against our analysis of the role of Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in bolstering Israel’s strength in the older imperialist countries goes back to 2014, when one of our now-leading members was driven out of the CPGB-initiated ‘Communist Platform’ in Left Unity, before the Corbyn movement emerged. That anathema stated that our comrade had to be driven out because..

We leave it to Cds to read the rest, though this stands out as an indication of how fast this lot are disintegrating,

This would be too ‘anti-imperialist’ for the CPGB, whose cowardice here is similar to their flinching over the witchhunt against Galloway over Iraq in 2003-04. We submitted our motion on 19 Nov. On 22 Nov we received the following communication from Stan Keable on behalf of the three-person rump steering group of LAW (Pete Firmin, the fourth member, had resigned due to difficulty in working with some of the others).

Pete is, unfortunately for Donovan, a real human being and a genuine democratic socialist…..

Not to mention this,he CPGB are sabotaging the potential of Labour against the Witchhunt to unite socialists in Labour against the witchhunt. They actually are trying to turn it into a confessional sect, in their own terms. We would actually have no objection to working even with the Alliance for Workers Liberty in a body like LAW, provided they were prepared to defend all victims of the Labour bureaucracy against the right. Of course, this is a big if. But ideological proscriptions, based on spurious smears, in a body whose purpose is to unite the left against a witchhunt, indeed amount to sectarian sabotage. Even more so when the ideological proscriptions are incoherent and self-contradictory, as demonstrated above.

Observers may feel that Donovan has a point.

How can Greenstein go on claiming that there is no such thing as left wing anti-semitism, or, in a weakened form, that the charges of anti-semitism against  people in the Labour Party are trumped up ‘Zionist’ fabrications and then go on to exclude poor old Gerry and Ian for anti-semitism?

There is more to this spicy soup – we leave it to others to relish the attack on Hal Draper – on grounds one can guess…..

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the author of this text, one Ian – International Jewish bourgeoisie – Donovan suggested that George Galloway lead the campaign.

  • The claim that left-wing anti-semitism is a ‘myth’ appears accepted by all sides of this barney and is the bone of contention.
  • The claim that there is a “witchhunt” against Socialist Fight.
  • None of them accept the findings of the Chakrabarti Inquiry, in particular ” Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.”
  • This puts them at odds with Labour Party policy.
  • The whole crew are barmy.

Evidence, M’Learned Friends,

Greenstein’s Blog,

A Sense of Humour Failure – The case of the JLM’s Ella Rose
Ella Rose is a free transfer from the Israeli Embassy to the Jewish Labour Movement where she is now Director.  She played a starring role in the Al Jazeera undercover programme, The Lobby. She came across as a petulant, foul-mouthed, potentially violent young woman.  She threatened physical violence against Jackie Walker because ‘she’s like 5’2” and tiny’ and ‘’if it came to it I would win that’s all I really care about’ which is a perceptive comment on Zionism and its ideals.  In the course of her musings Ms Rose stated ‘I’m a Zionist, shoot me.’  To which I responded that it was tempting.