Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Labour Movement

Starmer Tells BBC and Labour Members that “he doesn’t see the circumstances” in which Jeremy Corbyn could stand “as a Labour MP again”.

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Starmer Ruling Wrong in Principle.

Sir Keir Starmer has effectively ruled out Jeremy Corbyn standing as a Labour MP again.

Evening Standard.

The Labour leader said “he doesn’t see the circumstances” in which his predecessor will defend his Islington North seat for the party at the next election.

Mr Corbyn had the whip removed two years ago over his response to a scathing Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the party.

Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4: “We have not got to the selection of that particular constituency yet, but I don’t see the circumstances in which Jeremy Corbyn will stand as a Labour candidate.”

Mr Corbyn has been the MP for Islington North since 1983. He led the party from 2015 until the Conservative’s landslide victory in the 2019 election.

Reaction:

Firstly, I do not like the idea that the man whom a majority of members, including myself, voted for to be leader of the Labour Party being excluded from standing as a Labour Party candidate in any election.

Secondly, having little sympathy for Jeremy Corbyn’s views on some issues, above all his association with the Stop the War Coalition, Syria, Iran and the war in Ukraine, and, in a more complicated way, Israel and Palestine does not mean that the MP for Islington is outside the bounds of democratic socialist politics.

Thirdly, Corbyn’s response to anti-Semitism inside the Labour Party may have been at fault; so were the reactions of others. Corbyn should not be held responsible for the activities of a small number of prejudiced individuals. They rode on the backs of those who thought that with an ‘anti-imperialist’ at the head they would get Labour to support their brand of politics which drives the issue of Palestine, in their terms, to the forefront throughout the labour movement. They were quickly pushed back. It is not an issue now, and has not been one for the last few years.

Fourthly, I was born in Islington North in the 1950s. My parents, already Labour members, applied to transfer to the local party. Under what is sometimes called the “mafia rule” of the clique who ran the local organisation – you did not just “join” – they were told that they would be “put on the waiting list”. Only intervention by my father’s union – he was a lay officer of USDAW – and my mother’s connections – she had worked at the Fabian Society bookshop – got them in. Excluding Corbyn sounds like a return to those anti-democratic days.

Finally, it is unprecedented for a former leader of the Labour Party, who has been in no other political party, unlike Keir Starmer who was closely linked to the Tendance marxiste révolutionnaire internationale (TMRI) for up to four years in his ‘twenties, to be excluded from standing in an election in this fashion. It sounds wrong. It is wrong.

This is the inevitable kind of reaction, which helps nobody:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2022 at 4:46 pm

Ukraine Information Group launched.

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” Working in the labour movement and civil society organisations, to strengthen solidarity with the Ukrainian people resisting Russian military aggression. “

Ukraine Information Group launched

Press Release.

London, 3 October 2022

A group of labour movement activists has launched a unique service to English language readers: up to date information about Ukraine, based primarily on independent Ukrainian voices from the front line and first-hand testimony from Russian-held territory.

The Ukraine Information Group produces a weekly Bulletin, highlighting material translated by Ukrainian civil society organisations who wish to get their message about, particularly about the areas occupied by Russia.

To receive the Bulletin by e-mail, let us know at 2022ukrainesolidarity[at]gmail.com. The Bulletin is also put out on twitter and stored on line here.

The Group aims, working in the labour movement and civil society organisations, to strengthen solidarity with the Ukrainian people resisting Russian military aggression. Its aims state: “Conscious of the ‘propaganda war’ waged on all sides, we aim to make accessible reporting and analysis by voices independent of the state.” The Group focuses on the Russian-occupied areas because (1) the situation there throws light on Russia’s imperialist war aims and methods of rule, and (2) there are limited sources of reliable information from those areas.”

The Group started in March, with calls by elected local government representatives to support their counterparts in Ukraine who were being intimidated with kidnappings and other violence in areas occupied by the Russian army. Appeals were organised in the UK and in Switzerland (in French).

In July 2022 the Group held two on-line discussions with Ukrainian civil society activists about the situation in the Russian-occupied areas, attended by supporters from across Europe. Links to recordings are here.

The Ukraine Information Group is hostile, as a matter of principle, to Russia’s imperialist assault on Ukraine. But, on the other hand, it does not automatically give unconditional or unquestioning support to the Kyiv government. The UIG stands in the tradition of socialist internationalism and seeks to work in particular with like-minded progressive organisations throughout Europe.

Convenor Simon Pirani, honorary professor at the University of Durham, said: “With the Russian announcement of annexations we have gone past another dangerous turning point. To do anything here in the UK to support Ukrainian resistance, reliable information and informed analysis is a prerequisite.”

Supporter John Palmer, former Political Director of the European Policy Centre and Europe editor at the Guardian, said: “We are committed to supporting Ukraine’s demands on the United Kingdom and the European Union for greater and continuing military, economic and social support, But we will judge NATO’s military support specifically on whether it is designed to strengthen Ukraine’s struggle against the occupiers rather than pursuing a wider NATO/Russia geo-political military confrontation which could risk the use of nuclear weapons.”

Supporter Mike Phipps, who writes for the Labour Hub website, said: “We’re not in competition with other organisations that are doing excellent work in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Our aim is to play a specific role – bringing to a wider audience news and analysis from Ukrainian sources that can help people in the UK understand the dynamics of the situation.”

To get in touch with the Group, e-mail 2022ukrainesolidarity[at]gmail.com.

Twitter:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2022 at 10:53 am

Morning Star Urges British Left to Follow Red-Brown ‘Czech Republic First’ and “link the cost-of-living crisis to climate change and war”.

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‘Czech Republic First’: Model for the UK Labour Movement and Left?

The Guardian carries this story today:

Thousands gather at ‘Czech Republic First’ rally over energy crisis

Around 70,000 demonstrators demand new gas deal with Russia and end to sanctions over war in Ukraine

The Czech Republic is facing an autumn of discontent after an estimated 70,000 demonstrators gathered in Prague to protest at soaring energy bills and demand an end to sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Far-right and extreme-left elements coalesced at a “Czech Republic First” rally to call for a new agreement with Moscow over gas supplies and a halt to the sending of arms to Ukraine, while urging the centre-right government of the prime minister, Petr Fiala, to resign

The rally, part-organised by the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) and the rump Communist party that once ruled the former Czechoslovakia, featured calls for military neutrality and complaints over the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. About 400,000 have been granted residence in the Czech Republic since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Alongside banners bearing slogans such as “The best for Ukrainians and two jumpers for us”, Zuzana Majerová Zahradníková of the hard-right, anti-EU Trikolora party told protesters: “Fiala’s government may be Ukrainian, it may be Brussels, but it is definitely not Czech.”

Some demonstrators wore T-shirts praising the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, while others carried banners voicing anti-EU and anti-Nato sentiment. The Czech Republic has been among the western alliance’s staunchest supporters of Ukraine.

The Belgium  Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française RTBF also makes the far-right presence clear:

Organisée sous le slogan, “la République tchèque d’abord“, la manifestation visait l’inflation croissante tirée par une flambée des prix de l’énergie, la vaccination Covid-19 ainsi que les immigrants.

Organised under the slogan, ‘ Czech Republic first ‘, the protest took aim at rising inflation driven by soaring energy prices, Covid-19 vaccination as well as immigrants.

Der Spiegel carries the same lines, almost word for word.

Bei der Kundgebung unter dem Motto »Die tschechische Republik zuerst« kamen nach Polizeiangaben rund 70.000 Menschen auf dem zentralen Wenzelsplatz zusammen, um gegen die hohe Inflation, die von den hohen Energiepreise getrieben wird, zu protestieren. Demonstriert wurde aber auch gegen Corona-Impfungen und die Aufnahme von Migrantinnen und Migranten.

According to the police, around 70,000 people gathered in the central Wenceslas Square to protest against high inflation, which is being driven by high energy prices. But it also included opposition to corona vaccinations and the admission of migrants.

The Morning Star urges the British labour movement and left to follow the red-brown Czech Front.

As in Prague, the left must link the cost-of-living crisis to climate change and war.

Morning Star Editorial today.

MAMMOTH protests in Prague at the weekend made the direct link between Nato’s confrontation with Russia and the cost-of-living crisis.

It is a connection that needs to be made here as we gear up for mass demonstrations against a new Tory prime minister promising hundreds of billions more in military spending while millions cannot afford their energy bills.

Czech communists were right to dismiss claims that because the far right were mobilising for protests the left should sit them out — instead rallying under their own banners and promoting their own, socialist solutions.

(On the same Protest?)

Similar attacks have been made on left politicians in Germany who plan a string of “Monday protests” from today demanding action to bring down energy prices and a halt to Berlin’s policy of propping up energy suppliers’ profits by levying a charge on every kilowatt-hour of energy used.

Again, liberal figures within left organisations use the bogeyman of far-right protests to suggest socialists should stay off the streets and confine their criticisms of government to official channels.

That is a recipe for one thing only — empowering the far right by making it the outlet for popular anger at runaway inflation.

Those in Die Linke who have rejected the naysayers and promised a “hot autumn of protest to stop a cold winter of unheated homes” are right about the need for public confrontation with the system.

In Britain we face a different problem.

The far right are not as strong as in Germany or the Czech Republic, and show no signs yet of benefiting from the cost-of-living crisis.

The left, in the form of trade union-led campaigns such as the People’s Assembly, Unite for a Workers’ Economy and Enough is Enough, is leading resistance.

The latter is packing out rallies in city after city and plans a day of action on October 1, coinciding with Ofgem’s decision to ratchet up the energy price cap by a staggering 80 per cent.

But we should be wary of narratives that separate the domestic from international crises.

No British politician questions the logic of sanctions on Russian energy, though the price rises these fuel are proving a bonanza for Vladimir Putin who has increased sales to key Western suppliers like Saudi Arabia and even indirectly to Europe — which is buying huge quantities of liquefied natural gas from China which experts assess to be resold gas of Russian origin.

All sides at Westminster oppose talks on ending the war in Ukraine, instead backing massive increases in military spending which will inevitably come at the cost of our public services.

The cost-of-living crisis is global. Food and fuel inflation cannot be separated from the impacts of climate change and war.

Britain’s new prime minister must face a movement that raises demands for peace and climate adaptation at the same time as calls for pay justice and price controls.

*****

Others were less impressed with the Prague march: (Pawel Wargan is Coordinator of the International Secretariat of the Progressive International).

Some people just can’t resist a march with “Anti-EU” and “Anti-Nato” slogans. The bloc of the pro-Brexit left, including the Morning Star self-identifying left, with nationalist forces and Brexit Party backers in The Full Brexit, has obviously given some people a taste for red-brown alliances.

The idea that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can be described as ” Nato’s confrontation with Russia” and putting in the same sentence the cost of living crisis is confusionism, is beyond distasteful.

Furthermore, let us be clear, we do not march, as in Prague, as the Czech Communists (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, no MPs, one MEP) did, “allying, under their own banners” with the far right, in this case principally the national populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party (20 MPs in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic ), under any conditions whatsoever.

*****

Personal note.

Many on the left have links with the Czech Republic, back to the time when it was, with Slovakia, Czechoslovakia. Apart from backing the Prague Spring and opposing the 1968 Russian invasion, an indelible impression was made for many by Artur London’s account of the 1952 anti-semitic Slánský Stalinist show trials (1968) and the 1970 film by Costa-Gavras created from it, The Confession (L’aveu).

My mother worked as a secretary for the International student organisation based in Prague during the 1948 ‘Prague coup’ and was, at the time, favourable to the Communists, though 68 put that in question. She had a deep affection for the people (one of her friends in Bounds Green was Czech) and the country. Her Czech-English dictionary is on my shelves as is her copy of the Good Soldier Švejk. My parents visited Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

This song sums up what many on the European left felt about the 68 invasion and Stalinism when the French Communist Party tried to say that the balance-sheet (le Bilan) of Official Communism was positive. It references L’aveu.

It makes me weep:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2022 at 10:09 am