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Rebecca Long Bailey Would Let Luciana Berger *and* Alistair Campbell back into the Labour Party: RLB Supporters in Melt-Down.

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Chris Williamson says RLB is Bending over backwards to facilitate right-wing saboteurs, while simultaneously doubling down against anti-racist socialists, who’ve been smeared by those selfsame saboteurs, suggests Labour isn’t a home for socialists nor a vehicle to deliver a modest socialist programme.”

The Jewish Chronicle reports,

Rebecca Long Bailey says she would let Luciana Berger back into Labour, despite standing for Lib Dems

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long Bailey has said that she would let Luciana Berger back into the party if she becomes leader, despite the former MP standing for the Liberal Democrats.

She told the Evening Standard: “The circumstances for what happened to Luciana were very different from an MP who was just angry with the leadership. She had a terrible time.”

Party rules exclude those who have stood in an election for a rival party or against a Labour candidate from returning as members.

Ms Berger stood for the Liberal Democrats in December’s general election in Finchley and Golders Green, after defecting from Labour in February last year due to “a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation”.

Ms Long Bailey added the treatment of Jewish female MPs, including Ms Berger, Dame Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth was “terrible” because “it should never have happened within our party. We should have done more”.

She admitted one of her “big regrets” was not reaching out to them. “I didn’t speak to Louise or Luciana or Ruth directly. I wish I had,” she said.

The candidate, who is widely regarded as the continuity Corbyn choice, also said she would like to see Alastair Campbell – Tony Blair’s former spin doctor who was expelled from the party for voting Liberal Democrat – return to the party as well, citing his “expertise”.

In the original interview in the Evening Standard Long-Bailey also would not say, despite earlier claims to welcome Jeremy Corbyn as a Shadow Minister that,

While she won’t be drawn on whether Corbyn and McDonnell would make it into her shadow cabinet, she says: “I’m friends with both of them. I’ll be in touch with them for many years to come.” She is also clear that she will not personally criticise them for Labour’s election defeat in December, and blames Brexit and how the party communicated its policies.

There’s something about hair-gel, or whatever and this:

One issue Long-Bailey felt had not helped Labour was the Party’s support for WASPI women’s demands,

She also criticised the timing of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) funding policy. WASPI is a voluntary UK-based organisation that campaigns against the way in which the state pension age for men and women was equalised. It calls for the millions of women affected by the change to receive compensation. “We had spent five years building up that economic credibility, costing everything to within an inch of its life. And adding that as an extra policy after the grey book went out was an ideal opportunity for the Conservatives to attack us.”

Her views on Labour Election Policies, including the Party membership’s decision to back the possibility of a Second Referendum, were, well you can make them out if you can,

On Labour’s Brexit policy shambles, she “wouldn’t pin the blame on any particular individual” but says there was “definitely a tendency to not really understand what was happening in many of our communities and understanding the strength of feeling”.

On the transsexual debate Long-Bailey stands for niceness.

Asked about those who use TERF as an insult.

I don’t like it. The whole terf business within the party hasn’t been very nice at all. It’s led to many people within the party feeling very alienated, both those who are fighting for the rights and the respect of trans people and those fighting for the protection of women and the safety of women. We need to change that culture within the party.”

This is the key section cited in the Jewish Chronicle,

She would welcome back Luciana Berger even though she stood for a rival party at the last election. “The circumstances for what happened to Luciana were very different from an MP who was just angry with the leadership. She had a terrible time.” And she would also like to see Alastair Campbell return. “He’s got a lot of expertise and capability that I wish had been there to help us prior to December.” She jokes that he could maybe head up the rebuttal unit she wants to set up to attack anti-Labour media smears.

The Progressive Patriot has warm feelings for the Monarchy,

She also says she wouldn’t get rid of the monarchy when the Queen dies. “We’ve got more important things to worry about. Anyway, I met Charles inadvertently when I was eight or nine when I gave flowers to Princess Diana. She was lovely. She didn’t speak to me for very long, but she said, ‘Now that we’ve met we will be friends forever.’”

Many of Long-Bailey’s supporters are said to be unhappy with this interview:

Followed by,

Here is one very unhappy Cde:

More to follow….

Update, Latest Polls:

Written by Andrew Coates

March 10, 2020 at 1:17 pm

Right-Wing Identity Politics and the Trans Debate: the New Reactionaries.

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Image result for Rappel à l'ordre. livre

 

“In cultural matters the old division of right and left has come to look more like two Puritan sects, one plaintively conservative, the other posing as revolutionary but using academic complaint as a way of evading engagement in the real world.”

Robert Hughes, The Culture of Complaint. 1993. (1)

Trevor Phillips has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobia. What looks like a parting factional swipe at a long-standing opponent of Corbynism, only adds to the culture wars. After the crisis over anti-Semitism recent weeks have seen a new battle, over Transsexuals, reach a peak. Some have demanded that transphobes be added to the list of the expelled. Defenders of family, faith and flag from Blue Labour, self-identifying libertarians, and supporters of the Brexit Party in Spiked, full-blown national populists, and radical feminists have joined together to attack demands for trans rights.

Judith Butler wrote in her critique of ‘foundational’ identity politics, Gender Trouble (2007) “If I were to rewrite this book under present circumstances, I would include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality, the way that ideal gender dimorphism work in both ways to discourses, the different relations to surgical intervention that these related concern.” At present it looks improbable that differences between gender-critical, or “materialist feminists”, and those defending transsexuals, can take place within reasonable limits.

For Blue Labour, citing the inevitable Christopher Lasch on ‘narcissism’, Jonathan Rutherford asserts that, “Like other forms of identity politics, the language of its more extreme advocates has the same mix of moral self-righteousness and ideological certainty. Scientific facts that compromise ideology are dismissed.” “Identity politics becomes the singular pursuit of self-interest detached from social obligations.” He claims, “It is a struggle that many women feel is all the more threatening because of the involvement of powerful lobby and corporate interests.” (The Trans Debate And The Labour Party)The nastiness of a minority amongst those defending absolute ‘cis’ gender has shredded that hope to pieces. The Suzanne Moore affair has opened up a breach that is unlikely to be bridged. (2)

In 1993 Robert Hughes was one of the first to suggest that Marxism, dead after the collapse of official Communism, has had an afterlife by shifting away from “economic and class struggle in the real world”, theorising instead a variety of oppressions and “discursive” articulations and antagonisms. This ‘cultural Marxism’, exploring themes from German and French left theory, has become a target for conservatives railing against “multiculturalism”. Speech codes, the “PC wars” of the 90s, and. fast-forward. Today we have Mark Lilla’s 2018 left of centre critique of “liberal identity politics” (The Once and Future Liberal), and Douglas Murray’s conservative broadside against “identity politics and intersectionality”, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” (The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. 2019) (3)

National Populism.

Those attracted to national populism, who disdain the causes of minorities, have become champions of identity, of the “Somewhere” plain folks against the identity politics of the ‘Anywhere” cosmopolitan elites. This strategy is not confined to the English-speaking world. “The ambition is to imitate the activism of minorities – postcolonial or LGBT – fed by French theory …..in order to serve the cause of identity” writes Nicholas Truong in this Saturday’s Le Monde (Il s’érige contre la « dictature » de la « bien-pensance » : l’essor du national-populisme intellectuel et médiatique). In France, “national populism”, a “catéchisme néo-réactionnaire”, the theme of immigration, the fear of the “great replacement”, the ‘Islamisation’ of urban spaces, up to hostility to human-rights “mongering” (droits de l’hommisme) , and the “terror” of feminist campaigns against sexual violence and harassment. The denunciation of multiculturalist “bobos” (Bourgeois bohemians) parallels British sneers, from Blue Labour, Spiked to the Morning Star at the ‘Islington left”. Truong, with good reason, compares this to French Communist language of the past century attacking the “petty bourgeois”.

In Le rappel à l’ordre (2002) Daniel Lindenberg outlined the way a group of French writers had begun to denounce May 68, human rights, feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, Islam, and “globalism” (mondialisme). These “new reactionaries” had moved from the left critiques of market liberalism to national republicanism, He suggested that anti-globalisation could serve as a crossing-point

A “crude piece of work” commented Perry Anderson. It takes no more than a few minutes to see some names, Marcel Gauchet, Alain Finkielkraut, reappear in Truong’s article, some, like Eric Zemmour, and Jean-Pierre le Goff, author of a study that is recalled or its postscript on the enduring impact of “cultural leftism” post-68, had yet to come to wider attention. Others, like the once respected historian of the French left, Jacques Julliard are much more recent entries, though one was perhaps forewarned by his willingness to debate Jean-Claude Michéa, who asserts that the original sin of French socialism was its Dreyfus Affair alignment with democratic liberal human rights defenders. That one of these figures, Michel Onfray, a self-styled anarchist and pop philosopher has extended his openness to reaction by contributing to the pages of the Nouvelle Droite Eléments, is the occasion for sadness. (4)

Realignments to the right that have yet to go so far could be seen in the UK during the EU Referendum and Brexit process. The Full Brexit brought together left sovereigntists, Blue Labour, Labour Leave, activists in Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and members of the Communist Party of Britain. They contrasted the real popular sovereignty of the nation against the workings of the globalist EU elites. Andrew Murray has expressed the widely shared views of these sections with his hostility towards “rancid identity politics”, pitting the rights of “peoples” against the “poisonous seeds” of human rights (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)

The French new reactionaries have, Truong outlines, a strong and highly visible media presence right in the mainstream, the MSM. For those inflamed with hatred for identity politics Britain offers the consolations of Spiked, the Spectator, and the hard right press for those hostile to all things Woke, with the occasional television platform like Sky Press reviews. As interest in Brexit has waned some of  this new sect of plaintitive reactionaries  has taken up the cudgels against transsexuals. Elsewhere Verso Books publishes Andrew Murray, who thanks Tariq Ali for his “support and political commitment., The journal of Perry Anderson, New Left Review, is home to Wolfgang Streeck, a supporter of the Full Brexit, who believes that national borders are the “last line of Defence”….

 

*****

  1. Page 60. The Culture of Complaint, The Fraying of America. Robert Hughes. Harvill. 1994.
  2. Page xxviii. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Judith Butler. Routledge 2007.
  3. Lecture 2. Multi-Culti and its Discontents. Robert Hughes. Op cit. “PC Wars” in Chapter 8. New Consensus for Old. One Market Under God, Thomas Frank. Vintage 2002.
  4. Page 169. Perry Anderson The New Old World. Verso. 2009 Jean-Claude Michéa and Jacques Julliard La Gauche et le Peuple. Champs. 2014.
  5. Page ix. Andrew Murray. The Rise and Fall of the British left. Verso, 2019

Morning Star, “recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.”

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Be Alert: Keep a Copy of this Handbook Close at all Times!

The leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography. Nick Wright.

 

(5 Retweets).

The former Straight left stalwart writes in the Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op.

This article may be seen as a response to the Guardian column, The Labour leadership contest has exposed new factions in the party ( ).

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth was this section,

 The orthodox left still basically wants to implement the Communist party’s 1951 plan, The British Road to Socialism, with its vision of socialism being implemented in one country by a strong, centralised national government. They lean heavily towards a pro-Brexit position, while tending to interpret support for Brexit among working-class voters as incipient class consciousness rather than tabloid-inspired xenophobia.

Followed by,

The radical left is still a very new, fragile and inexperienced tendency that has a long way to go before emerging as a mature political formation. It brings together the more libertarian strands of the hard left, the more radical strands of the soft left, and a new generation of activists from outside the traditions of the Labour party.

Wright makes a clarion call for the whole of the left to support Long-Bailey, and follow the doughty progressive patriot for better reasons than the (official) left who back her, “mainly out of sheer loyalty to her mentor, John McDonnell, that most of the radical left have supported her.”

He aims to dampen down this deviation:  “Privately, many on the radical left agree with former MP Alan Simpson that the dogmatic and authoritarian tendencies of the orthodox left smothered the creative and democratic potential of Corbynism, contributing to its eventual downfall.

The Communist Party of Britain sage writes of Labour’s General Election Campaign.

The disparate elements that Corbyn’s election united has ended and the wide legitimacy that Labour’s radical programme commanded is now challenged by people who attribute the election defeat to “socialist policies” which must be abandoned.

With the help of ace-reporters Wright discovers that Labour was, at one point, on the brink of victory,

…. a wave of popular participation, an effective social media operation, skilled targeting of swing seats and a bold manifesto (along with the divisions in the Tory ranks and a weakened Liberal Democrat Party) produced a surge in support that eroded a 20-point Tory lead and took Corbyn within a few thousand votes of No 10.

We may not have noticed that, but he did!

The fault lay in a failure to respect the decision to respect the Brexit vote, something which Wight and his comrades tirelessly campaigned for.

Instead of becoming a springboard for a further assault on a divided ruling class — this itself apparent in a highly conflicted Tory Party in government — this hopeful prospect was dissipated as Labour’s activists and mass base were sidelined by a parliamentary party intent on subverting the clear decision to respect the referendum result.

Worse was to come,

Labour (was)  corralled into an increasingly Get Brexit Undone policy, the way was open for Labour’s manifesto to be driven to the margins of public discussion.

The People’s Vote campaign, a middle class mass movement, had sown confusion in Labour ranks.

The success of the Remain camp in conflating “internationalism” with a kind of shared European privilege to travel, study and work freely threatens to undermine the deeper internationalism that found an expression in the mass movement against neoliberal trade deals, in the Stop the War movement, the anti-racist and solidarity action with refugees and migrant workers and the Palestine solidarity movement.

The kind of internationalism that has stood by while Assad, Russia and Iran,  attack Idid in Syria, in short.

Remain, unlike Boris Johnson and the ERG, had a “neoliberal project.”

Worse the pro-EU side has  echoes of fascism, foretold in  ” manifesto of Oswald Mosley’s postwar racist revival”.

He cites Gilbert (above), without mentioning (surely an oversight),  the passage of the British Road to Socialism,

It is to Jeremy Gilbert, professor of cultural and political theory at the University of East London, that we owe the insight that the leadership contest has revealed new contours in Labour’s ideological topography and that the only way for Labour to win is to ditch “Labourism.”

Writing about Labour’s so-called “soft left,” he writes: “Despite the failures of both Kinnock and Miliband, their default assumption remains that progressive government can be achieved by selling moderate social democracy to the electorate, led by a guy in a smart suit.”

Worse is to come….

It is to this inspiring standard that the recycled fragments of the ultra left now line up with the main vehicles of the Labour right wing and much of the liberal and neoliberal media.

The Morning Star writer has a warning to them:

While it might suit some to reduce much of politics to the clash of cultures, no-one should underestimate the political potency of questions of nationhood, patriotism and identity.

As in progressive patriotism.

Cde Wright ends with a stirring call for unity behind the banner of the “Orthodox Left”-  including these “recycled fragments”, supporters of a neoliberal project, who admire something with the odour of Oswald Mosley “?

A dog-eared copy of Betty Reid’s, ‘Ultra Leftism in Britain’, (1969. CPGB) would surely show the dangers of the “ultra left” in their true light.

The Blair Government Reconsidered. Jon Davis, John Rentoul. Review: Blairism Rehabilitated?

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The Blair Government Reconsidered. Heroes or Villains? Jon Davis, John Rentoul  Oxford 2019.

“Will New Labour in retrospect be judged to have failed for the same reasons that Very Old Labour failed in 1929 – 31, namely a refusal to break with current economic orthodoxy?”

Eric Hobsbawm. Marxism Today. November/December 1998. (‘The Death of Neoliberalism’).

In a special one-off, titled Wrong, the Editor of Marxism Today, whose End had been announced in 1991, wrote, “New Labour did not usher in a new era but more properly belongs to the previous one.” Martin Jacques was followed by other heavyweights. Stuart Hall stated that, “Labour has been quietly seduced by the neo-liberal view that, as far as possible, the economy must be treated as a machine; obeying economic ‘laws’ without human intervention”. In words that resonate today about those now asserting the need to attract pro-Brexit voters, and the “Somewhere” people he asserted that Blair’s “key constituency in the run up to the election was ‘Middle England’ – a profoundly traditionalist and backward looking cultural investment.”

In reply Geoff Mulgan defended the “open” debate about the Third Way, synthesising centre-left traditions, and Labour commitment to practical radical reform. Citing Walter Benjamin, the Demos director complained about intellectual “peaceful negativity” – endless carping from the outside. History had moved on, and Blair’s “permanent revisionism” was the future.

Accusations of resurrecting New Labour, of “Blairism” have been anything but part of a serene critique in Labour’s present day leadership contest. Voices outside Labour, relayed within, predict a defeat for the left in the wake of a Keir Starmer Armageddon. Party democracy, in the view of the Socialist Party and the SWP and some claiming to be on the Labour left, has been thwarted; the ‘Blairites’ have not been purged. A historic defeat looms. The time has come again to mobilise outside the Party….

New Labour in Power.

In these conditions is there space for an in-depth account of New Labour in power? Discussion of what ‘Blairism’ actually was, and what remains of it could hardly avoid this. Davis and Rentoul, who teach on “the Blair Years” at King’s College, begin The Blair Government stating, that Tony Blair was “the political colossus in Britain for thirteen years after he became leader of the Labour Party in 1994. He was prime minister for ten years, second only in length of service to Margaret Thatcher (11 and a half).” Yet, as they note in the conclusion, “Much of the difference between Blair and Thatcher is explained by how much they are regarded by supporters of their own party, Where Blair is reviled by many Labour voters, Thatcher is revered by Conservatives.” (Page 300) By contrast, “The purpose of this book is to assess criticisms of him and his government in a dispassionate way…”(Page 2)

The first thing that strikes the considered reader is that The Blair Government is, far too much for the politically committed reader, focused on “government works” and “how Blair run his administration”. The charge that the Prime Minister accepted the ‘Thatcher consensus’ that privatised nationalised industries, utilities and transport, introduced anti-trade union laws, and the modelling of public services after private business practice. There is little on the role of the Labour Party itself. There is nothing on the international difficulties and evolution of social democracy, which some began to compare with New Labour at tis zenith The book focuses on the “conduct of government”, issues such as Prime Ministerial versus Cabinet government, “sofa government”, the Civil Service faced with an increased role of Special Advisers (‘Spads’), that occupy this account of the nuts and bolts of Blair’s time in office. (1)

The relationship between Blair and Gordon Brown is of interest to any biographer. The independence of the Bank of England and its relationship with the Treasury gets in-depth treatment, as does Brown’s partnership with Ed Balls. . The critics’ charge of economic orthodoxy rang and rings true. In this field, PPS, Public private Partnerships, rightly attacked for critics on cost grounds and as a “hallway house to privatisation” is considered in terms of “mobilising private funds for public purposes”. (Page 224). Brown’s project, Davis and Rentoul note, was in line “redistributive market liberalism. A significant role of government is to remedy market failure in areas such as healthcare, not to intervene in the foundations of the economy (Page 227).

 

The Third Way.

The Blair Government does not discuss the Third Way, the social-ism, adapted to the “new capitalism” that Tony Blair, or at least his supporters, spun during his years up to government and in power. There was the emphasis on “community” sometimes drawn from communitarian political philosophy, more often from homely speeches about balancing rights and obligations, “mutual responsibility”. One responsibility dominated. People needed to be equipped with skills to compete on the global market; there should be “equality of opportunity” for the aspirational to succeed. The welfare-to-work New Deal, outsourced to private providers, fell short of offering quality training and opportunities to the majority of its clients. If the minimum wage and tax credits helped the low-paid, this – undeniably important help – went with the idea of improving individuals’ market capacity within an “open economy”. (2)

The difficulty was not only that this strategy was bound to skirt around forces pushing rising inequality, a world wide trend left-wing writers link to finance driven ‘neo-liberal’ globalisation. Public services had been kept going, even expanded in some areas, although its higher reaches became subject to stiff fees. When the “dynamism of the economy” faltered, and “boom and bust” reappeared in the 2008-banking crisis, the period of Gordon Brown’s Premiership that followed this study’s focus, these measures teetered on the brink. Eric Hobsbawm’s warning proved right as orthodoxy, with the aid of a bit of bank saving, prevailed, austerity began. The bulk of policy initiatives, or tinkering, proved not to be structural, lasting, reforms. Whatever trace of equality they had sustained vanished quickly with the return of the Conservatives to power. Schemes for sanction-ruled and pared down welfare amidst the expansion of precarious employment have erased their memory. Brexit has set in train a new form of free-market rule, national neoliberalism, backed by Boris Johnson’s national populism. 

Davis and Rentoul are more forthcoming on the Iraq War. Regardless of the merits of the decision to play a full part in the invasion of Iraq, Blair acted out of “deep conviction”. He gave public support to President Bush. The issue of ‘humanitarian intervention’, one that preoccupied many people on the left at the time, is ignored. What counted is that it could be seen as poor policy, “on planning for the aftermath, he failed to consider how badly it could turn and…If a fraction of the intelligence effort devoted to weapons of mass destruction had been devoted to war-gaming the results of toppling Saddam, a better decision might have been reached.” (Page 280) Or it might not…..

The Blair Government Reconsidered  is a fluent, accessible study. That said, if there’s anything that all the candidates for the Labour leadership have noted is this, the Blair years claim that “What matters is what works”. New Labour’s package of policies, though not without electoral victories that should make us pause, did not, as a whole, work.

 

***********

(1) The Retreat of Social Democracy. John Callaghan. Manchester University Press.  2001

(2) Alex Callinicos. Against the Third Way. Polity 2001.

Britain to Drop European Human Rights Laws, a Victory for Brexit Sovereignty?

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End to the “poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights”? Andrew Murray.

This the news today:

Britain is preparing to reject EU demands to guarantee that the country will continue to be bound by European human rights laws once the UK becomes fully independent, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

British negotiators will refuse to accept proposed clauses in a post-Brexit trade agreement that would require Britain remain signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights, leaving the door open to break away from the treaty as soon as next year, the Sunday Telegraph said.

Andrew Murray, until recently a key Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser  expressed these views in The Rise and Fall of the British Left (2019).

The “imperialist left” of the 2006 Euston Manifesto, which championed the right of humanitarian intervention, claimed to base the argument on human rights.  Such rights trump the “rights of nations” and justify Western, external, use of force to impose claims of human rights.

He attacked the standpoint that “articulated the preference for individual rights over the collective, which has come to preponderate on much of the Western left, a flowering of the more poisonous seeds of the politics of personal identity and human rights.”(Page 97) 

The thrust of anti-human rights ideology can be seen on the national populist Spiked site run by the ex-Revolutionary Communist Party network.

Human rights: a reactionary cause. Luke Gittos.

The movement for human rights was born of a fear of democracy.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, many Remainers were keen to emphasise that leaving the European Union (EU) did not mean leaving the remit of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As they saw it, retaining the human-rights regime was a means to retain some vestige of what they perceived to be the progressive European project. It was as though they felt, in the aftermath of Brexit, that all was not lost as long as they could hold on to human-rights laws. Hence, human-rights proponents were keen to highlight the fact that the Human Rights Act was passed into English law by the UK parliament and did not represent a law ‘imposed by Brussels’ – a retort they find useful when the human-rights regime is called ‘undemocratic’.

The conclusion is simple, “The existence of a human-rights framework owes everything to postwar elites’ attempt to exert economic and political control over the heads of European peoples.”

This is a complete fabrication.

The human rights demands of social movements, theorised by writers such as Claude Lefort and Étienne Balibar, are written off as they are part the culture of narcissistic complaint. Leftort , in Essais sur le politique : XIXe et XXe siècles, 1986, argue that the political dynamics attached to the affirmation of human rights could not be dismissed as part of the “formal” democracy, but reached into the development of the social basis of democracy. IT is possible to see the limits of legal rights, as the early 19th century writings of Marx on the issue indicated, but also to consider that the fight for rights is, as Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère put it, “a source of disorder and egalitarian reordering” (Was Karl Marx truly against human rights? 2012.)

In a similar vein Balibar has written of the “operation of inventing rights, or of continually setting their history back into motion..” Masses, Classes and Ideas,1994. During the last decade Balibar has written of the convergence of citizenry and humanity, both in human rights documents and in the political imaginary (La proposition de l’égaliberté. 2010)

More radically the cultural critic of political theorist Jacques  Rancière’s account sees human rights emerge through political action and speech. They are products of excluded voices that  seek to enact equality as speaking subjects and demonstrate inequality within the social order: ‘the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the rights that they have not’ (Who Is the Subject of the Rights of Man? 2004).

Many argue that, to illustrate the point, that the trade union movement, which came from “outside” the political system,  is the biggest movement for human rights in history.

From the radical internationalists to figures like Keir Starmer human rights have become an important part of the politics of the left.

But what are these fights without legal recourse?

Agreements like the European Convention on Human Rights exist to  give at least some reality to these the demands of the powerless.

Bexiteers assert that only national, sovereign, states, can guarantee rights – an argument that goes back to Edmund Burke, and taken, as a counsel of despair, by Hannah Arendt in the wake of the Second World War and the Shoah.

These positions, taken up and simplified by sovereigntist ideologues many Brexiters, of right and left, have wished to detach themselves from any such international obligations. based on humanity, not nation states.

It is no accident that Boris Johnson and his adviser Cummings attack the European Convention, and assert national sovereignty over human rights. National neoliberalism, national populism, and national rights….

Those who argued in favour of such unlimited national sovereign rights, and wished that Labour had a made a deal collaborating with the Tories in Brexit, can now see where their stand can lead.

What a People’s Brexit they have helped bring into being…

 

 

 

 

Boosts for Rebecca Long-Bailey from Corbyn and Weekly Worker.

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Image result for long bailey corbyn video

Breaking, if offered a frontbench job under the new leader Corbyn would graciously accept the shadow foreign secretary role.

Rebecca Long-Bailey received two major boosts for her campaign this weekend.

The senior commentators of the Weekly Worker publish this statement.

Use the ballot

“David Shearer of Labour Party Marxists urges a tactical vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey – despite her monarchism, vague politics and accommodation with the right.”

We in Labour Party Marxists are clear that, despite the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn and the clear move to the right in the party, the space for the left to operate and argue in can be defended. This means voting for Rebecca Long-Bailey for leader and Richard Burgon for deputy – but vote with your eyes open. Expect nothing from an RBL leadership – except betrayal and further moves to appease.

There follows stuff about ‘Zionism’.

You;d have already guessed it.

 Long-Bailey said she supported separate Palestinian and Israeli states, “so I suppose that makes me a Zionist, because I agree with Israel’s right to exist”. Would she have argued in support of apartheid South Africa’s right to exist?

The arm of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) then tackled an issue which many may have missed, although the Newshounds of this Blog noticed the new People’s Princess showing off her touching Diana picture.

Then there was the February 17 Channel 4 TV hustings, when candidates were asked how they would vote in a referendum on keeping the monarchy. Lisa Nandy replied: “I’m a democrat, so I would vote to scrap it”, although she did not think it was “the priority as a country” to do so. And even the expected leadership victor, Keir Starmer, said he would “downsize” the monarchy. But on this Long-Bailey was more reactionary than the two candidates to her right. She stated categorically: “I wouldn’t vote to abolish the monarchy” – after all, there were “more important things” to be done.

 

As if to accentuate this position, on February 23 the Sunday Mirror ran a story (accompanied by a touching photograph) about how in 1988 Long-Bailey, when she was just nine, had presented a bouquet on behalf of her school to the late princess, Diana Windsor.2 The tone of the article was entirely sympathetic, and it read as though the Mirror had dug up this information completely independently. But the Daily Mail’s subsequent online headline began: “Labour hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey reveals photo of her meeting Diana” (my emphasis).3

I suspect that is accurate. Long-Bailey is trying to appeal to the Labour right and wants to show just how ‘respectable’ she is.

Steel hardened cadre Sherar has a go at the vagueness of the programme Long-Bailey offers,

So “socialism” merely means a “better life” – to be achieved by people working “together”.

Her “green industrial revolution” is equally vague: it will be “the aspirational socialist project, around which we build a winning majority for change”. It will bring “social justice” and “good, green jobs to every community”. As for concrete proposals, forget it.

Eagle-eyed Cds, they finish by noting this,

Another witch-hunt?

Of course, RLB adheres absolutely to political correctness and so will quickly sign up to each and every call to end discrimination against minorities – without, it seems, bothering too much about the detail of what some are proposing.

So, along with Emily Thornberry and Lisa Nandy, Long-Bailey has signed up to a statement drawn up by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights, which labels organisations like Woman’s Place UK “trans-exclusionist hate groups” for their insistence that there are only two biological sexes. According to the LCTR, such an insistence is “transphobic” and Labour members who support it should be expelled.

…..

It is essential that those claiming to be on the left – not least Rebecca Long-Bailey herself – should renounce this witch-hunt (along with any new one relating to ‘transphobia’). However, even in the absence of such a renunciation, it is essential , as I have stated, to remain focused on the central battle over the nature of the Labour Party itself: the aim must be to transform it into a united front of the entire working class, free of all pro-capitalist elements.

Breaking update:

The rumour from our ace-reporters is that, the UK’s number one sectarian and (relatively newly) entryist group is splitting, with a prominent member expelled. What next for the Weekly Worker Group?

In a lesser boost this has happened: Jeremy Corbyn comes off fence to back Rebecca Long-Bailey in race for Labour leader

The Standard reports,

Jeremy Corbyn abandoned his pledge to stay neutral during the Labour leadership race as his protégé fights for second place.

The current Labour leader said Rebecca Long-Bailey would have his “absolute support” in a video released on her social media today.

In the clip, showing Ms Long-Bailey being interviewed by Mr Corbyn in Westminster, she tells him: “And obviously, when I’m leader of the party, you’ll be there supporting me as a green revolutionary.”

He replies: “Absolute support.”

This the latest in Corbyn’s efforts to support Long Bailey,

Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn urges frontrunner Keir Starmer to publish major donations to his campaign

Independent. 

On the donation issue,

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, a source in Sir Keir’s campaign team told The Independent: “The campaign publishes its donations in line with the law and rules set out by the Labour Party for this contest. The first tranche were published last month.

“We’ve submitted our next tranche to the parliamentary authorities and expect it to be published next week.”

But all eyes will be on this demand.

Labour leader also says he would prefer shadow foreign secretary job if offered role on successor’s frontbench​.

In a surprise intervention, the Labour leader also insisted he will not be “disappearing” when his successor is unveiled, and said if he is offered a frontbench job under the new leader he would prefer the shadow foreign secretary role.

All’s fair when you need to give advice to Labour on selecting another winning leader!

Written by Andrew Coates

February 29, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Pro-Brexit Left accuses “dumb centrist” anti-Brexit Keir Starmer of Responsibility for Labour Defeat.

with 5 comments

Image result for keir starmer People'sVote

Dolchstoßlegende: Labour stabbed in the back by its anti-Brexit membership.

A couple of weeks ago the Morning Star published this assertion,

…in my view Starmer doesn’t seem electable at all — with his anti-Brexit views I don’t think he has a hope in hell of winning back our heartlands.

It was Starmer who was at the heart of our Brexit volte-face between 2017 and 2019, the biggest reason we lost 2.5 million votes. He has done nothing to own this calamity of the highest order and doesn’t seem to be able to accept his huge role in it. If he can’t see the problem how on earth can he try to put it right?

The answer is not Sir Keir Starmer

The author, Rick Evans, is apparently a Labour Party activist linked the ‘Red Labour’.

These are his politics:

But the claim that Labour lost the election because of Starmer is not an isolated one.

The pro-Brexit Counterfire makes the same charge,

Labour lost Leave constituencies because it became a Remain party, with Starmer and others mounting pressure on the party leadership to support a second referendum, and stating that they would campaign for Remain regardless of what was in any prospective Labour deal.

Starmer argued that this was the path to victory for Labour. In reality, it was a disastrous approach that alienated traditional Labour voters and drove them to the Tories. It’s difficult to defend Starmer’s leadership credentials when he was behind such a great miscalculation.

No socialist should vote for Keir Starmer

It looks as if the former supporters of George Galloway’s Respect Party are preparing for possible defeat and a return to their political isolation.

This is their more recent description of Starmer’s politics:

Starmer sides with Trump against Assange: expect more of the same if he’s leader

….unquestioning loyalty to the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic. But they can also expect Sir Keir to be a dumb centrist who will be out manoeuvred by the Tories…

Apart from Counterfire mocking the mute,  this is the kind of catch-all rhetoric we can expect from their side in weeks to come.

At is core is a new  Dolchstoßlegende, that Starmer stabbed Labour in the back by supporting the massive protests against Brexit.

It has equally expressed in an intellectual version.

New Left Review Editor and Brexiteer, Susan Watkins imagines, with the blessing of hindsight, that Labour could have let Brexit pass under Boris Johnson,

Placing the Labour leadership candidate within the “Remainer elite” who “betrayed” the working class she suggests that a better way would have been to follow the wiles of Harold Wilson and allow Labour MP’s to back the Tories and ignore the decisions of their Party Conferences.

The Parliamentary Party, acting alone (without reference to democratically agreed policy on the ‘tests’ on an acceptable Brexit deal, and favouring the option a Second Referendum), could, by

…giving Labour mps a free vote on Brexit legislation in 2019, ‘according to their conscience’, as Harold Wilson had done on the divisive 1975 referendum on the uk’s entry into the Common Market. With the ‘northern group’ voting for the bill and two dozen Labour abstentions, Johnson would have been denied the chance to make electoral hay out of the obstruction of Brexit, and the prospect of combating a much weaker Tory administration would have lain ahead at the next election. A Labour government could then have fought for an open immigration policy, or its own recalibration of the eu’s ‘four freedoms’.

Britian’s Decade  of Crisis Editorial Susan Watkins.

Lexit Left’s Responsibility for Defeat.

In reality the Lexit left share in the responsibility for Labour’s defeat: they sided with the hard right in voting for Leave, and encouraged the illusion that there was a “People’s Brexit’ waiting to emerge from the break with the EU. That is, they encouraged the very pro-Brexit feeling that Remainers like Starmer are alleged to have ignored, and let the red to blue switch-overs with a ready-made justification for their vote.

Not only did an alternative socialist Brexit not happen, it could not happen.

The Brexit project was part of the very hard-right, national neoliberalism, aligned with the “‘outward-orientation’ ” of sections of capital, “in the era of bubblenomics”, which was, and is “above all Atlanticist. ”

With this as the backdrop, Watkin’s strategy had been ruled out by the domestic political landscape as condensed in the House of Commons.

The idea that Labour could have left pro-Brexit MP’s vote, en masse, for the Leave legislation, was dead in the early years of the 2017 May government.

The option that The NLR Editor and friends have dreamt up was, it’s becoming clear, was already not on the cards.

Mike Phipps, in a review of this book,  May at 10, by Anthony Seldon,  indicates why.

These are the relevant sections of the article:

Some Party activists have suggested that Labour should have voted for Brexit to get it out of the way so that the 2019 general election could have been about issues less divisive for Labour voters and members.

There are several problems with this analysis. First, to have called for a vote for May’s particular form of Brexit would have collaborated in creating the bonfire of workplace rights and environmental safeguards that would follow leaving the EU. Secondly, it would have split the party down the middle, with most members and MPs opposed to Brexit. Thirdly, with some Labour MPs already breaking the whip, any attempt to impose a hard Brexit on the parliamentary party would have provoked not just more defiance but possibly a challenge to the leadership, Fourthly, it was only in April 2019 that the May government indicated a preparedness to negotiate with Labour – but there was no real willingness to move towards Labour‘s proposal for a permanent customs union.

Worse, the government was by now falling to pieces. Seldon suggests that Labour’s front bench was in intransigent pre-election mode, but the reality was that the talks ground to a halt when May’s own departure was being briefed to the media, with no commitment that any agreement reached would be honoured by her successor.

Mike continues,

Should Labour have adopted a different position to the compromise it made with itself over Brexit?

Leavers say it should never have floated the idea of a second referendum, which indicated contempt for the 2016 verdict of the voters. Remainers say Labour should have come out for a People’s Vote earlier, pointing to the slump in the Labour vote in the 2019 EU parliamentary elections and the rise in support for Remain parties such as the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The debate will rumble on in relation to the 2019 general election, but two things should be borne in mind.

Firstly, Labour’s position on Brexit was not seen by voters as the principal reason for rejecting the party in 2019.

Secondly, whatever position Labour might have adopted, it would probably not have changed the course of events prior to the election, which were not controlled by the party’s leadership.

This are the standout points,

The assumption that if Labour had somehow got Brexit out of the way, it could have fought the general election on different terrain overlooks the obvious point that, with Brexit done, there may not have been an election in 2019 at all, or 2020 or 2021. Johnson gambled in 2019, but he would have preferred to call a general election when the polls could give the Tories a clearer lead.

True, it would not have been the ‘Brexit election’, but the mobilisation of nationalist sentiment and the weaponisation of the Labour leader’s patriotism are themes that the Tories have used repeatedly in the past and are still exploiting now post-election. We shouldn’t be surprised: the rise of authoritarian nationalist conservatism is a global phenomenon challenging social democratic parties across the world.

He concludes,

With hindsight, we can see we were a long way from that and much more political and practical preparation was necessary after 2017 to make it possible. Furthermore, the absence of industrial struggle or a more generalised upsurge against government policy over the last nine years should have told us that there was something fundamental missing in the combination of ingredients that might bring a socialist government to power. Instead, we suffered a colossal defeat – and one from which we have to learn lessons.

While the Lexiteers may have helped soften up opinion for the Tories their influence was far from decisive. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that, while it did have some effect (above all in letting convinced Labour turncoats with a ready excuse for their ballot), that, “Labour’s position on Brexit was not seen by voters as the principal reason for rejecting the party in 2019” Leadership is the most cited reason for not backing the Party.

Mike is also right to underline that Labour politicians of any side  were, a minority in parliament, able to determine the way the issue played out as the election agenda was set, “whatever position Labour might have adopted, it would probably not have changed the course of events prior to the election, which were not controlled by the party’s leadership.”

Brexit has not gone away, at least in Labour debate.

Starmer comes under fire from Long-Bailey and Nandy over Brexit

Guardian.

Labour leadership hustings saw frontrunner criticised for party’s ‘tone-deaf’ approach

Long-Bailey implicitly condemned Starmer’s Commons-based tactics against Theresa May’s minority government, saying: “Unfortunately, we focused a lot on what was happening within Westminster, and didn’t convey what we were trying to do to our community. And that led to a lack of trust.

“It took so many other things down with it. So in the election, when we should have been talking about jobs, aspiration, industry, what the future will look like, we were talking about Brexit and trying to justify our position, which was confusing.”

Speaking later in the event, Nandy said Labour’s problem with Brexit was that it “took all the wrong lessons from what the public were trying to tell us”.

She said: “Brexit was a real problem for us, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And the reason it was a problem was because our response was so utterly tone-deaf.”

The “public” were not one group. Labour, as a party of over 500,000 members is part of the public, so are those who filled the streets protesting against Brexit, mass currents of opinion and street activity, the latter the”movementists” of Counterfire ignore, or denigrate.

This drew a measured response,

…Starmer vehemently rejected this analysis, saying that “fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly”, Corbyn’s leadership was the number one issue on the doorstep, as well as what he called “manifesto overload”.

Starmer said: “Whether what was in the manifesto was right or wrong, there was too much. There was a tipping point, and it didn’t matter whether it was good or bad, because people didn’t believe we could deliver it.”

“And every team was talking about what was coming up on the doorstep, the big issues. And there was complete uniformity across the country; it was number one, the leadership. Fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, anybody who was in that campaign knows that was the number one thing that came up. I’m not saying it’s right; I’m just saying let’s be honest about it.

The second thing was Brexit, of course. But that came up differently. If you were campaigning in the Midlands, it came up in a particular way. If you were campaigning in Scotland, it came up in a completely different way. But it did come up, I accept that.

The third thing that came up – this is not me, this is the teams reporting to me – was the manifesto overload. Now, whether what was in the manifesto was right or wrong, there was too much. There was a tipping point, and it did not matter whether it was good or bad, because people did not believe we could deliver it. And once you got past that point, there was no coming back.

And I’m really sad to say, but in all honesty antisemitism came up … It came up as a values issue and as a competency issue.”

Exactly.