Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘LAW

Left begins debate at Labour Conference as ‘Resist’ fringe pushed aside.

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The Resist! Event

Entertainment for the Last of the Headbanger Left.

There are real debates taking place at the Labour Conference in Brighton. Aside from the row over voting rule, which we could have well done without, there are different political visions being advanced. Groups like Labour First, the ‘moderates’ have a strategy they say could win. Their recently discovered eternal loyalty to Keir Starmer, without much more to back it up, although with a genuine wish to get Labour elected, can be contrasted with left wing criticisms of Keir Starmer put forward by former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

It is good to see the left of the party engaged again in real pollical and strategic thinking. It is perhaps sad, but inevitable, that the people at the Rialto, from the CPGB (PCC) Labour Party Marxist, Tina Werkmann’s fronts Labour in Exile/Labour in Exile , Greensteinism/Walkerism and Stan Keable in Labour Against the Witch-hunt, the Labour Campaign for Free Speech (“Reject the IHRA so-called definition of antisemitism”), and Chris Williamson’s merry band (which is pro George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, the ‘Resist’ Movement have pushed themselves to the margins. One hopes at least that the music is good this afternoon. They can then bang their heads till evening comes.

By contrast many of us on the different wings of the democratic socialist left, will find much to think about in the judgements in McDonnell’s most recent article:

Dump the New Labour playbook, Keir Starmer, and set out your programme for radical change

John McDonnell

The party conference has been planned as the major relaunch of Starmer. It’s blindingly obvious that he has to change course if Labour is to stand any chance of winning the next election but rehashing New Labour just won’t work. That model crashed to defeat in 2010, with Mandelson running the campaign, in which the party slumped to 29% of the vote. The truth is no faction of Labour has found a winning formula post-bank crash – and we need to unite with some humility to find that. Starmer became leader on that basis, but is squandering goodwill internally and looking increasingly out of touch to the electorate.

There were people on different sections of the left who did not closely identity with Jeremy Corbyn’s views on international issues, and felt that Corbynism’s ‘left populism’ lacked depth on social and economic strategy. The influence of the Four Ms on the Labour leader, who pressed for a revamped version of the 197s Alterative Economic Strategy (AES) and backed Brexit, was a drag on Labour.

McDonnell, by contrast, brought together a talented team seriously worked on policies such as the reforming the unjust personal and business taxation system ,ideas about developing workers’ rights and new forms of socialisation. They advanced more internationalist ideas on the European Union. Both, nevertheless, as the McDonnell says, joined a long list of those unable to find “a winning formula post-ban crash”. This remains an issue open to many different responses.

Is he right to call for bolder policies, that, against this hope, “In prospect is a policy review that subjugates a meagre policy programme to the lowest common denominator demands of the rightwing media, big business and the City” ? The signs are not good, “Labour refocuses on concerns of working families ahead of the next election”. That,

Starmer will use his keynote speech this week to vow to give all pupils an “education fit for the future”.

It is set to include digital, work and “life skills”, as well as greater access to professional careers advisers. The plan would see the compulsory citizenship programme taught in schools widened to include practical issues such as applying for a mortgage and understanding employment and rental contracts.

What will be the content of Miliband’s Green New Deal? Every left and ecological party in Europe has one, so we can expect at least something in this direction.

But what of the rest of the package? Starmer’s pre-rbiefed announcement does not look that promising. .is training in how to apply for a mortgage and “life skills”, “someone sticking up for them and offering the hope of something better”? School students are taught in a system full of the inequalities and problems created by Academies. The idea does not look like from a break from the stultifying drive to make education at all levels an arm of business studies Does ‘work experience’ help deal with the problems of young people entering an employment system that keeps many in precarious causalised jobs? What of those continuing studying? Are there plans to tackle the reshaping of a higher education system with the crippling student loans system, and profiteering senior managers and chiefs?

Starmer, as this Blog has argued, seems short of social democratic reformist ambition.

That said the following will find people agreeing from many side of the party.

..As it is, we’ve wasted five days now that have completely overshadowed important policy announcements by Lucy Powell on housing and by Angela Rayner and Andy McDonald on workers’ rights. All the while, the government has been floundering as petrol stations run dry and energy companies collapse. Before any attempt at a New Labour rerun, it might be best to consider the words of an old German philosopher: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.”

There are other issues facing Labour.

Today there is,

Keir Starmer faces a crucial test on Sunday in his attempt to rid the party of antisemitism as delegates vote on plans for a new independent complaints process to tackle the scourge of racism.

I will not look good if this turns out to be true:

That minority will not achieve anything and only give hope to the ‘Resist‘ crew.

As indicated above these debates and issues have pushed aside those beyond the fringe. They are now on a trip to somewhere one of their supporters Alexei Sayle calls a place where people from Cloud Cuckoo Land holiday in when they get tried of its mundane reality.

Do the organisers of the Rialto event seriously think there are people out there willing to be hoodwinked by somebody like Williamson?

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2021 at 8:36 am

Ken Loach Expelled from the Labour Party.

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May be a Twitter screenshot of text

It appears that Loach has been expelled from the Labour Party for membership of Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW). This Blog opposes the blanket expulsions, even of those who are membres of LAW – a group run by people who are no friends of the democratic socialist left and who do not recognise that anti-semitism is a problem. There have been individual expulsions of LAW members, notably the justified removal of Tony Greenstein, and (in a less clear cut case) Jackie Walker. Each accusation has to be argued on its merits.

What we cannot accept is this description,

On Twitter, 85-year-old Loach, a winner of the Palme d’Or for I, Daniel Blake, said: “Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled. Well … I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch-hunt … Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity.”

This is what his “good friends and comrades” of LAW have been up to- a speech last year by Norman Finkelstein at one of the meetings run by one of their fronts, “The Labour Campaign for Free Speech.”

Finkelstein questioned whether it is antisemitic to describe Jews as killers of Christ, even though this has been an accusation favoured by antisemites for centuries, having inspired pogroms back in the Middle Ages. The issue of the number of victims who died in the Holocaust should be open to “statistical, scholarly questions”, he opined, despite this being the specious argument used by every Holocaust revisionist.

Worst of all, Finkelstein saw fit to mount a defence of David Irving — the Hitler-admiring, Nazi-sympathising writer who achieved international prominence twenty years ago over his libel case against US historian Deborah Lipstadt. “David Irving was a very good historian”, Finkelstein declared. “I don’t care what Richard Evans says, he was a very good historian. He produced works which are substantive…. He knew a thing or two. Actually he knew a thing or two or three.” The Failings of Norman Finkelstein. Bob Pitt.

The fact that Loach is something of a hypocrite is besides the point:

‘Kick them out’: Ken Loach demands removal of Labour MPs who attended rally against antisemitism

Film-maker Ken Loach has demanded that the Labour MPs who demonstrated against antisemitism in Parliament Square be kicked out of the party.

Referring to the group of more than 30 MPs from Jeremy Corbyn’s party who joined the Enough is Enough protest organised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Loach said: “These are the ones we need to kick out.”

This Blog is opposed to expelling Loach, somebody whose politics have often been abhorrent, from his days as a fellow traveller of the Workers Revolutionary Party and his involvement with the play Perdition, (`1) It is better to argue them out than to get rid of people who hold wrong opinions.

Tendance Coatesy is not an admirer of most of his films, except the magnificent early ones, like Kes. They are miserabilist and often trite (Ae Fond Kiss springs to mind).

This expulsion is not a good move and like many others the Tendance opposes it.


(1) The “Perdition” affair

There are at least two issues involved in the ‘Perdition’ affair: artistic freedom and its limits; and whether or not ‘Perdition’ is anti-Jewish.

Allen and the director, Ken Loach, immediately raised an outcry against ‘censorship’, alleging that they were victims of a coordinated Zionist conspiracy. ‘Perdition’ was being crushed under the ‘Zionist juggernaut’, as Jim Allen put it when he told his side of the story to the Irish Times.

They have received immense publicity for their assertions about the ‘Zionist’ campaign to kill ‘Perdition’. Predictably the anti-Zionist left, eager’ for evidence of Zionist conspiracy and Zionist power, rushed to defend ‘Perdition’ and echoed the charges.

Now, according to the Jewish Chronicle, the Board of Deputies of British Jews did decide to try where possible to prevent the play from being performed. There was an outcry, and no doubt private lobbying too.

But, given the subject of ‘Perdition` and the nature of Allen’s treatment of it, that is not surprising, nor necessarily very sinister. The charge of being anti-semitic is still one that inhibits, and Allen’s script does not (as we’ll see) offer the honest reader who is not wearing blinkers much ground on which to build a convincing case that it is not anti-Jewish.

Allen, in that vainglorious, boastful tone which also infects some of his work, told Time Out: “Without any undue humility I’m saying that this is the most lethal attack on Zionism ever written, because it touches at the heart of the most abiding myth of modern history, the Holocaust. Because it says quite plainly that privileged Jewish leaders collaborated in the extermination of their own kind in order to help bring about a Zionist state, Israel, a state which is itself racist. I know what I’m doing and I stand by my research and my analysis. I’ve had to get this right because I know how serious a subject it is”.

Now I think ‘Perdition’ should be produced. Those Jews who have campaigned against its being produced are wrong in principle and short-sighted in practice. Ultimately their campaign, which has already boosted ‘Perdition’, will prove self-defeating and even self- wounding.

Loach claimed that the Royal Court had given into pressure from members of the British Jewish community, including the publisher Lord Weidenfeld and the political adviser Lord Goodman.[5] Loach told a newspaper of the Workers Revolutionary Party that he “hadn’t tangled with the Zionist lobby before” and “what is amazing is the strength and organisation and power of their lobby.” The “Zionists”, he said “want to leave intact … the generalised sense of guilt everyone has about the Jews so that it remains an area that you can’t discuss”. He was also angry with the dramatist Caryl Churchill, who defended Stafford-Clark’s decision.[4] Jim Allen himself blamed “the Zionist machine”.[2] Cesarani in Jewish Socialist wrote in response to such comments that “the protagonists of the play are willing to manipulate anti-Jewish stereotypes outside of the theatre as well as within it.”[14] The Directors’ Guild of Great Britain protested at the cancellation.[15]

Written by Andrew Coates

August 14, 2021 at 1:19 pm

News from the ‘Chatham House Left’: Will they invite LAW and LIEN to their ‘Unite the Left’ Conference?

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From this letter,


The Morning Star editorial description of Labour’s reintroduction of a proscribed list of left organisations as using a sledgehammer to crush “a small bag of nuts” was quite right.

The membership of the four groups picked on by the party’s rightwing NEC majority – Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network, Socialist Appeal and Chris Williamson’s Resist – can probably be numbered in the hundreds, while what the right is concerned about is the hundreds of thousands who flooded into the party full of hope in Corbyn……


Who are these 25 (!) underground organisations? Some have previously said that some are believed to be linked to sections of the left involved in UNITE the union. If this report is true, such manouvres, do not inspire confidence about the democratic intentions of such a ‘Unite the Left’ conference. Socialist Appeal are a messianic sect as can be seen here: Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021 “The International Marxist Tendency is advancing, confident of the future and firmly dedicated to the struggle for socialist revolution”. And anybody who imagines that Walker, Greenstein in LAW, or Tina Werkmann in LIEN, are part of the future of the left should be treated with compassion if not pity.

Even this sad case, Skwawkbox, does not report on these doings. No mention of the Unite the Left event here: TWT fringe says it will act as ‘rallying point for a new left in Labour’ ‘Festival of ideas’ has support from ‘major institutions of the UK left’.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm