Posts Tagged ‘Labour Party’
Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.
“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”
The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.
John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)
The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.
We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.
Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.
The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.
But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.
The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them. Although the entirely justified US support for the Kurds, including air-strikes, which saved them in their hour of need, does not get mentioned.
The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?
Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene of the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?
France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left-wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.
In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.
What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secretary) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. President Hollande’s Defence Minister is open in advocating putting troops on the ground – how and which troops is not announced. (Le Monde. 22.11. 15) Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. Nobody has any solid plans, for all the welcome US air support for the Democratic Forces of Syria, to help one of the few forces in the maelstrom the left can support, the Kurds of Northern Syria in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), above all faced with Turkey. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no effective and sustainable solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects. We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.
Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MP’s:
…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.
In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.
For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.
Andrew Fisher, Respected and Much-Liked Comrade.
Everybody has had a go at Andrew Fisher over the last few days.
I haven’t heard complaints from Ipswich yet, a non-1% elite town which Andrew visited earlier this year.
He came and talked to the Ipswich Trades Council and the Suffolk People’s Assembly on anti-austerity economics.
Fisher’s message is summed up in this review of his book, The failed experiment and how to build an economy that works. (2014)
With eloquence and passion Fisher argues debt and growth are not the real issues, the economic problems we face are in fact “the consequence of political decisions”. The conditions that neoliberalism demands in order to supposedly free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes, the dismantling of public services and welfare, deregulation, the breaking of union.
Those listening to him didn’t go to Cambridge. But they included trade unionists, teachers, clerical and manual workers, retired people, Labour Party members, and supporters of socialist groups, Greens and anti-cuts activists.
We were distinctly impressed – and he’d travelled all the way from the wilds of Sarf London to speak to us.
As Labour Briefing is one the best read left weeklies round here we are equally pleased to see his contributions in the paper.
The Guardian lays down the present charges:
Jeremy Corbyn is under mounting pressure to dismiss his policy adviser, Andrew Fisher, as a second, stinging letter of complaint about his past support for candidates from other parties was leaked to the Observer.
Fisher was suspended by Labour general secretary Iain McNicol on Friday, two weeks after Emily Benn, former parliamentary candidate for Croydon South, lodged a complaint to the party, saying Fisher backed the Class War candidate in her constituency ahead of the general election in May.
In a move that angered many at the top of the party, Corbyn said he still “had full confidence” in Fisher who would continue to work for him, though he respected the “integrity” of the general secretary’s office.
But in a new blow to Corbyn’s defence of his aide, the Observer has obtained another letter sent on Tuesday to McNicol from a former treasurer and executive member of the Labour party in Brighton, Peter van Vliet, about separate alleged instances of Fisher backing rival candidates. Van Vliet protested “in the strongest possible terms” that Fisher had encouraged people to back Green candidates before the 2010 general election. The Greens’ Caroline Lucas went on to take the Brighton Pavilion seat from Labour with a majority of just 1,252 votes.
Van Vliet told McNicol he found it “unacceptable that Mr Fisher is now allowed to remain a party member” because he urged people to consider supporting parties other than Labour.
After Benn’s complaint, Fisher apologised for putting out a tweet in August 2014 which said: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” @Campaignbeard was the Class War candidate’s Twitter account. Fisher maintained that the tweet was a joke and did not indicate his support for Class War at the time, a line since backed in public by Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
The Sun helpfully adds to the list,
JEREMY Corbyn’s top aide was suspended last night over footage of him admitting he was tempted to beat up a former Labour bigwig.
The Sun played the party a video of Andrew Fisher saying he was tempted to “thump” ex-cabinet minister James Purnell for not being left-wing enough.
He was filmed saying “It took every sinew of my self-discipline not to thump him” over his views on welfare reform.
The wider context is well-covered by Phil here: Andrew Fisher’s suspension isn’t about rule-breaking – it’s about factional struggle.
These are some more points.
- James Purnell – involved in a serious Expenses scandal – was Work and Pensions Secretary from 2009 – 2009 (when he resigned, claiming disagreements with Gordon Brown – but see previous link). As such he presided over the Flexible New Deal – the precursor of the present Work Programme. It was based on the principle that rpivate companies would ‘provide’ the programme for the out of work, and that they would be put into “work placements” – unpaid work. This is how the Guardian represented his policy in 2008, “James Purnell accused of introducing US ‘workfare’ with benefits reform. Work and pensions secretary says under white paper proposals virtually everyone claiming benefits will have to do something in return”. It may be imagined that it was not only Andrew Fisher who took a dislike to the man.
- The ‘Class War Tweet was made in August 2014. That is pretty far outside of the General Election. Now, much as the Tendance likes Ian Bone, Class War is generally considered something of a joke on the left. Not, indeed, as funny as the Posadists. But pretty amusing. Note to Labour Party, the Tendance has tweeted backing for J. Posadas’ views on Communist Flying Saucers and intelligent dolphins.
- That Andrew said some nice things about Carolyn Lucas and some Green Party policies, is something he shares with about 99% of the British left – excepting steel-hardened comrades like Andrew Coates. He did not back the Green Party.
There is quite a list of other notorious “tweets” (here).
For once Ken Livingstone has followed the Tendance’s lead (on our own Tweets and Facebook).
He suggested on Channel Four yesterday that Andrew Fisher was ‘aving a larf.
As also suggested here: Andrew Fisher’s comedy career is all over. David Osland.
Odd, innit, that when right-wing gits make off-colour remarks this is proof of what great characters they are.
When a lefty shows a bit of rancour, and humour…all hell breaks lose.
Missing: Please Return to Owner.
Workers Power has gone absent.
Or so it seems.
They left this enigmatic, yet poignant, note on the dressing table.
Workers Power supports key elements of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme. We believe all socialists should join the Labour Party, defend and promote Jeremy’s progressive demands, and work to extend and deepen these policies in a revolutionary socialist direction.
We will be working collectively in the Labour Party, hand in hand with others, to advance that cause.
Since this statement on the 15th of September sellers of Workers Power have not been seen in public.
There’s been this Tweet, on October the 22nd.
Unconfirmed sightings include Red Flag, and Fifth International, and rumblings, rumblings….
Workers Power was the author of this much-loved document – it’s believed the last living person who got beyond page 2 is still around.
Not to mention this (genuinely) fine analysis: Strategy and tactics of the Counterfire group; a critique.
Elderly, it suffers from incontinence, but is still sprightly enough to take a leading role in defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.
If found please return to the League for the 5th International as soon as possible.
Opponent of North African Left and Secularists.
Seumas Milne has a new job.
Guardian columnist Seumas Milne has been appointed as Labour Executive Director of Strategy and Communications. The appointment is considered controversial in Labour circles.
The appointment of Milne is the surest sign yet that Jeremy Corbyn will fill senior positions with hard left allies in an attempt to assert his dominance. Milne is considered one of the most left wing commentators in the media. He has worked as comment editor and labour editor for The Guardian, as well as writing for The Economist, and has spent 10 years as an executive member of the National Union of Journalists. He has also written several books, including one about the miners’ strike of the 1980s.
Milne will join the Labour leader’s office on the 26th October, next Monday, on leave from his position at The Guardian.
Much will be made of Milne’s various political stands, including, no doubt the time when he stood as a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ candidate in mock elections at his exclusive public school, Winchester College (information from an Old Wykehamist).
These are just two which make him unfit to represent Labour to an important section of the world left, his opposition to the North African left and support for their Islamist allies, and, as he showed with his reactionary anti-Charlie Hebdo rants, his hostility to secularists and lovers of freedom of expression everywhere.
The first issue is Tunisia:
Seumas Milne, Guardian Comments Editor, has described the Ennahda party (right-wing Islamists) as “progressive” and gave space to pro-Islamist views during his time as Comment Editor (for six years, 2001-7).
In October 2011 he said this (Guardian)
The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (Ennahdha) won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.
In January 2011 the Guardian published this – reflecting Milne’s enthusiasm.
We are building a Tunisia for all
Oddly this had happened in February that year, (BBC)
Police have cleared crowds of Tunisians who marched through the capital Tunis on Friday demanding the resignation of interim PM Mohammed Ghannouchi, a long-time ally of the ousted leader.
It was the biggest rally since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia last month after 23 years in power, after being toppled by weeks of unrest.
Mr Ghannouchi’s interim government has promised elections by mid-July.
But crowds marched down Tunis’ main avenue chanting: “Ghannouchi leave.”
Later police fired tear gas and warning shots as they cleared the demonstrators from in front of the interior ministry .
Witnesses said one protester was injured when police fired warning shots at the crowd which some estimates said was 100,000-strong.
By the beginning of 2013 this was happening:
Milnes did not support the left-wing Tunisian Front Populaire. Or (presently ruling, left-of-centre secular party) at the head of a coalition with the Islamists and nationalist parties, Nidaa Tounès, of PM Habib Essid.
Instead he backed full-square the Muslim Brotherhood franchise, the pro-business, pro-liberal economics, Islamists of Ennahda.
The second issue is Charlie Hebdo.
The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. What happens there happens here tooNothing remotely justifies the murderous assault on Charlie Hebdo’s journalists, still less on the Jewish victims singled out only for their religious and ethnic identity.
What has become brutally obvious in the past week, however, is the gulf that separates the official view of French state policy at home and abroad and how it is seen by many of the country’s Muslim citizens. That’s true in Britain too, of course. But what is hailed by white France as a colour-blind secularism that ensures equality for all is experienced by many Muslims as discrimination and denial of basic liberties.
What of Charlie?
Charlie Hebdo claims to be an “equal opportunities offender”, abusing all religions alike. The reality, as one of its former journalists put it, has been an “Islamophobic neurosis” that focused its racialised baiting on the most marginalised section of the population.
This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.
I will not dignify this with longer extracts but note this conclusion, and note it well,
Europeans are fortunate that terrorist outrages have been relatively rare. But a price has been paid in loss of freedoms, growing anti-semitism and rampant Islamophobia. So long as we allow this war to continue indefinitely, the threats will grow. In a globalised world, there’s no insulation. What happens there ends up happening here too.
In brief, the slaughter was terrible, but Charlie Hebdo was so awful that there was bound to be a “blowback”.
For in plain English: they (and one assumes the victimes at the Hyper-Cacher) had “it coming to them”.
The failure to back the left, and instead support the right, during the important events in Tunisia, and his misinterpretation of Charlie Hebdo’s satire, are enough to make Milne unsuitable to represent the Labour Party for important constituencies.
That is, on Tunisia he stands against the majority of the North African and European left, and to the overwhelming majority of the Francophone left which mourned the Paris slaughter in January this year.
He has already mightily annoyed Kate Godfrey (“Mr Corbyn, I have spent my life in conflict zones. Prior to becoming a Labour PPC I worked in Somalia, in Sudan, in Libya, in Algeria, in Lebanon when the Israelis were shelling the passes, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Georgia, in Azerbaijan and in the DRC”), who criticises a much wider field of misjudgment on international issues. ”