Tendance Coatesy

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Labour Election Review 2019: Leadership and Brexit, initial Left Internationalist thoughts.

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Election Review 2019

“Concerns over the leadership, Brexit position and deliverability of the manifesto damaged Labour’s chances.”

It will take a while to digest the full report but these are some initial responses, from a left internationalist, that is, from an activist in the anti-Brexit left.

One of the reasons to speak as the impact is being felt is that there are already efforts to use the report to blame those opposed to the hard right Brexit project for our Party’s defeat.

Here was a view, expressed by somebody believed, not least by himself, to be one of Corbyn’s close friends(1st of June 2019),

 Vilayat Khan: So, let’s start with Corbyn and the Labour Party.  How would you assess Corbyn on Brexit?

Tariq Ali: I think Corbyn’s position is correct. I think to make Brexit into the major divide of the British politics is crazy. Given that whatever finally happens, whether it’s Brexit or Remain, the problems of ordinary people, working people are not going to be solved. Brexit is very much a debate, I think, within the elite, and I think people voted, large numbers of people voted for Brexit to kick the establishment and to say you can’t get away with everything.

..

And ever since it happened a large chunk of the English establishment has been trying to reverse the referendum. So that’s what is going on, and for Corbyn it’s a serious problem because half of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, especially in the north. So he can’t ignore them. The choice, which the right of the Labour party is offering him is to agree to a second referendum now, campaign around it and Remain, and basically ignore the Labour supporters in the north, in other words, send some working class supporters in the arms of the Brexit party. That’s unacceptable.

Tariq Ali on Corbyn and the British Media, Palestine, Kurdistan, Pashtun movements and how to revive Internationalism.

In the coming days we can expect a lot in this vein. There will be claims that the metropolitan liberal Labour “elite”,by pushing for a Second Referendum, ignored the Brexit proletariat and drove the working class into the hands of Johnson. They will be strongly made by those who themselves campaigned, like Ali, for a Leave vote. Given the track-record of the national sovereignty left it would not be surprising if they try to apportion blame to groups like Another Europe is Possible, which mobilised the internationalist left, and had a strong presence at the hundreds of thousand strong protests against Brexit, for the catastrophic election.

In a fact-denying exercise some are already trying to make the claim,

Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery, the two most outspoken proponents of Brexit in Corbyn’s deeply divided top team, said: “Let’s be clear, people lost trust in Labour after failing to deliver change after 13 years in government. This was brought to a head when the party ignored the democratic vote for Brexit; it was the excuse that allowed loyal Labour voters to finally break with a party they felt had been ignoring them for far too long. (Guardian)

This is not going to wash.

More broadly, as one of the authors of the Review, James Meadway, point out (below), the report avoids “superficial explanations”.

This the Election Review 2019.

Labour List notes that,

The project commissioners included MPs Ed Miliband, Shabana Mahmood, Lucy Powell, plus journalist Ellie Mae O’Hagan, TSSA’s Manuel Cortes and former John McDonnell aide James Meadway.

These are key findings,

The report notes that Labour “lost support on all sides” in 2019 – around 1.7 million Leave voters and around one million Remain voters in net terms, compared to 2017 – and failed to attract swing voters.

Labour lost roughly equal numbers of Remain (1.9 million) and Leave (1.8 million) voters between 2017 and 2019. But it also gained around 900,000 Remain voters, while only winning over around 100,000 Leave voters.

Although one of Labour’s aims under Jeremy Corbyn was to attract non-voters, it was also identified that the Conservatives were more successful than Labour in turning out non-voters in 2019.

In summary,

It says the “broad consensus” across the party, reflected in the survey results, is that concerns over the leadership, Brexit position and deliverability of the manifesto damaged Labour’s chances.

The report, Election Review 2019, says,

  • There is a broad consensus across our Party – mirrored in the results from our survey of Labour members – that a combination of concerns about the leadership, Labour’s position on Brexit and our policy programme damaged Labour’s chances in this election. Our weaknesses going into this election were interlinked, and indivisible. They catalysed long term trends between Labour and our voter coalition.
  • This was an election where people were more often voting against the scenario they feared most, rather than for the party they liked best. We failed to provide a believable narrative for change, that enough of the electorate could vote for.
  • Concerns about Labour’s leadership were a significant factor in our election loss in 2019. ‘Stop Jeremy Corbyn’ was a major driver of the Conservatives’ success across all their key groups including previous non-voters, and among all the swing voters Labour lost to the Tories.
  • In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s personal poll ratings dramatically improved over the campaign.  Had these levels been maintained, Labour’s vote share in 2019 would have been 6 points higher. The very low poll ratings on leadership going into the 2019 election cannot easily be disentangled from the handling of issues like Brexit, party disunity and anti-Semitism.
  • The Tories won the 2019 election primarily by consolidating the Leave vote. In contrast, Labour lost support on all sides. Compared with 2017, in net terms, Labour lost around 1.7 million Leave voters; and around 1 million Remain voters. We also failed to attract swing voters, winning over far fewer swing voters than at any other recent election, and turning out fewer new non-voters than in 2017.
  • Non-voters (both those who did not vote in 2017 but turned out in 2019, and those who voted in 2017 but not in 2019) played a critical role in the Conservative success. According to analysis conducted by Datapraxis, well over 4 million voters turned out in 2019 who had not voted in 2017. In 2017 Labour benefited much more from 2015 and 2016 non-voters but in 2019 the Tories overtook Labour among 2017 non-voters, by turning out many older and Leave voters as well as some younger voters.
  • Whilst individual policies polled as popular, resistance to Labour’s reform programme came as people evaluated the overall package in our manifesto. Affordability, and the negative impact on the economy or their own personal finances were raised as concerns by voters. Unlike in 2017 many thought our manifesto was considered as unrealistic, risky and unlikely to be delivered.
  • Labour suffered a meltdown in Scotland, polling well below even the Tories, with the SNP making significant gains. The SNP gained at Labour’s expense among key swing voter tribes. Brexit, the UK leadership and our position on a second Independence referendum were key factors in our loss.

 

The Guardian puts two issues at the heart of the defeat,

 Jeremy Corbyn was deeply unpopular

The report is unflinching in its analysis of how the leader’s appeal to voters plummeted between 2017 and 2019. Had his popularity stayed at its peak level, it says, Labour’s vote share in 2019 would have been 6 percentage points higher.

By September 2019, it finds, 67% of voters disliked Corbyn, most strongly, and only 12% liked him. It links this to issues including Corbyn’s handling of complaints of antisemitism in the party, Labour’s Brexit position, and a perception of disunity due to events such as the defection of MPs to the short-lived Independent Group.

The report says research suggests an “intense” dislike of Corbyn was a key factor among voters who switched from Labour to the Tories; they raised issues such as antisemitism, perceived support for terrorism, and unaffordable policies.

The views of one 52-year-old woman who voted Labour in 2017 are summarised in the report as: “Frightened at the possibility of a Marxist government. Disgusted at Corbyn being a terrorist sympathiser. Most disturbed about plan to nationalise BT as I fear it would allow a Labour government to spy on internet users.”

4. A confused Brexit policy

In a poll of Labour members carried out for the report, 57% named the Brexit policy of promising a second referendum on any departure deal as the single most unpopular and challenging idea to sell to voters, citing views such as “dithering”, “dire”, and “reflecting division”.

This, the report finds, repelled both leave and remain voters. Of those who voted Labour in 2017, the party lost 1.9 million remain voters and 1.8 million leave voters in 2019. Given the generally pro-remain views of Labour voters, this represented a much higher proportion of leavers.

For many of those who changed their choice between 2017 and 2019, voting for another party in the European elections in May provided “a conveyor belt” away from Labour, the authors say.

Even those who stayed with Labour seemed to do so despite the party’s Brexit policy rather than because of it, with majorities of remain and leave backers saying they preferred to either stop Brexit entirely, or “get Brexit done”, respectively.

Comments.

Corbyn’s Popularity.

It would take a fully hyped up fan of the 2018 Jez-fest to ignore that Jeremy Corbyn was not liked by the electorate.

It is hard to criticise the former Labour leader about this, above all because it was made clear (at least to those who cared to know) that he had initially not wished to stand for that position.

But doubts were always there.

One aspect that was visible was an approach to the issues on which he made a mark, within the Labour and wider left.

Corbyn’s political history is tied to a particular vision of internationalism.

For some activists on the left his campaigning had an edge of the ‘anti-imperialism’ which always measured international issues through the lens of supporting, however ‘critically’ states and movements opposed to the USA, from Venezuela to Cuba, the Palestinians en bloc, even Iran, when they were standing up to Washington. Issues such as human rights, evoked in abstract, tend to melt when conflicts with America arise.

More to the point electorally what kind of appeal does this campaigning have for either activists or for the wider public?

Chatting to Tariq Ali and Roy, Corbyn recently referred to his work with the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) which has done precisely nothing to defend the Kurds, the Yazidis  and Syrian democrats against Islamist genociders, and the Assad regime,

 Like you, I wish that Stop the War didn’t have to exist, but it does, and here we are all these years later. And the derivation of those wars has been the refugee flows of the Middle East, has been the wars all across the Middle East, has been the refugee camps in Libya and Lebanon and so on.

This is his lament and call,

….the arms still flow to Saudi Arabia that have been used to bomb the people of Yemen, the war carries on in Yemen. The refugee crisis of the Rohingya people moving into camp (inaudible) continues. The refugee crisis in Libya, and Lebanon continues and others do. And so we do need a global movement that recognises the real threat to world security is health and poverty inequality. The real threat to global security are wars based on the abuse of human rights and the thirst for grabbing somebody else’s resources. The real threat to our security is actually the environmental crisis. That we should be facing in the future.

7th of June: Coronavirus, War & Empire: Arundhati Roy & Jeremy Corbyn in Conversation w/ Tariq Ali

Charitably this illustrates a wide-ranging concern with global issues.

Another, less favourable judgement is that Corbyn come across, even in a friendly environment, as a bit of talker, a high-pitched waffler, not a doer.

Even less kindly, most electors would have given up listening early on.

Brexit.

Was Labour’s confused position the result of pressure from ‘liberal metropolitan elites’?

Was it an honest effort to reconcile largely pro-Brexit working class voters with the views of the majority of Party members?

Many people in a position to know doubt this.

There is old mucker again: Jeremy Corbyn ‘would be campaigning for Brexit if he was not Labour leader’, says long-time ally Tariq Ali (Independent May 2016.)

“The Labour leader was forced to refute comments by his brother Piers that his pro-EU stance is a ‘party management’ issue.”

These claims did not disappear after the Referendum.

When Jeremy Corbyn announced on Tuesday that he would back a second EU referendum in all circumstances and campaign for Remain against a Tory Brexit, it marked a victory for the pro-EU movement inside the Labour party. The Labour leader resisted pressure to make the shift for months, worried about the potential loss of voters in Leave-supporting areas. He was persuaded to make the move by an alliance of MPs, grassroots members and union leaders.

But he has still refused to clarify whether Labour would campaign for Remain or Leave in a general election, a sign of the considerable influence of his four key allies, dubbed “The Four Ms”. The group — Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and Len McCluskey — have been the strongest advocates for Labour to back Brexit.

Reported the Financial Times in July 2019.

The “compromise” that resulted was not just for a Second Referendum.

It was for a renegotiated deal for Brexit which would then be put to a popular vote.

If it wins the election, Labour wants to renegotiate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and put it to another public vote.

Rather than backing either Leave or Remain during the election campaign, the party will remain neutral until a later date.

Should a referendum under a Labour government be held, voters would be able to choose between a “credible Leave option” and Remain.

The party would organise the referendum within six months and decide which position to back at a special conference in the build up.

BBC.

In other words, you could back Labour to get a better Brexit, or because you wanted a ballot on whether Leave should take place.

It was this which looked, for the obvious reason that it was ” “dithering”, “dire”, and “reflecting division”.

Few bothered to go into this for the obvious reason that if you wanted Brexit there were other alternatives on offer.

Others may suggest that the Four Ms, with Corbyn behind them, equally played a major part in what the Guardian calls, the “dysfunctional ‘toxic culture’ (that) led to defeat…”

More to follow…

Written by Andrew Coates

June 19, 2020 at 11:09 am

Far-Right Fringe Protests: Will the Culture War Still Take Place?

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Image

 

Evan Smith (see, Toppled statues and the free speech culture war) asks:

 

Yesterday’s clashes in London centred on the antics of a few thousand far-right piss-heads.

London protests: More than 100 arrests after violent clashes with police

They behaved true to type.

For those reading this Blog who are not familiar with the name Keith Palmer, the man was a true hero in every sense of the word.

Keith PalmerGM (1968 or 1969 – 22 March 2017) was a British police officer who was posthumously awarded the George Medal, the second highest award for gallantry “not in the face of the enemy“. Though unarmed, he stopped a knife-wielding terrorist from entering the Palace of Westminster during the 2017 Westminster attack; he died from wounds he received in this attack

The BBC states,

MP Tobias Ellwood, who gave first aid to PC Palmer as he lay dying after being stabbed in the grounds of Parliament by Khalid Masood in 2017, said the image of the man urinating next to the memorial was “abhorrent”.

He told the BBC: “He was fully aware of what he was doing, he should step forward and apologise.”

For many people, beginning with leading figures involved in the Black Lives protests, and extending to the left and  independent anti-fascists, it was not a good idea to engage in confrontations with the far right rabble.

PM Boris Johnson had been inciting opinion against BLM protests and the left.

It seems as if the Tories are more than willing to engage in a US style “culture war” – at a time when a massive recession looms .

The Guardian headlined on its front page yesterday, “Boris Johnson ‘stoking fear and division’ ahead of BLM protests

Critics say PM’s claim that George Floyd protests ‘hijacked by extremists’ is dangerous”.

In the same daily, Johnathan Freedland offered an account of how these cultural clashes work in the very different political culture of the US, and how they might develop in the UK,

The right loves a culture war, because such a battle changes the subject – almost always shifting from ground on which they would lose to ground on which they can win.

Let’s imagine the initial focus had remained instead on a demand to tackle discrimination in policing and criminal justice, expanding to include the higher death rates from Covid-19 among black Britons. Johnson and others in power would now be on the defensive, forced to promise action.

But once the focus shifted, they could exhale with relief. Not only is a debate about statues or faulty TV shows a handy distraction from the specific injustices at the heart of all this, it also splits the coalition, even the consensus, that had, remarkably, formed in revulsion at Floyd’s killing. Once statues of Gandhi and Mandela are also boarded up for their own protection, as they now are, it means precious unity has been lost.

Boris Johnson’s polarising statue tweets are pure Trump

In France the Comité Adama has taken up issues of discrimination in policing and the legal system, focusing on justice against the police (Death of Adama Traoré) See also, yesterday: Comment le comité Adama est devenu le fer de lance de la lutte contre les violences policières. BFMTV.

ITN carries the story:

Assa Traoré wears a t-shirt which says “Justice for Adama, without justice you will never have peace.”

She knows the price of peace – Adama is her brother.

He died four years ago detained by French police after running away from them because he wasn’t carrying his identity documents.

She has been campaigning ever since.

All these years on, the officers involved in his detention have just been cleared of any involvement in Adama’s death.

That decision has triggered protests across France and led to her brother being dubbed the ‘French George Floyd’.

Yesterday they also demonstrated.

Not without difficulties, as this self-policing against would-be ‘casseurs’ (those who attack and smash after marches)  illustrates.

Far right ‘identitaries’ tried to disrupt the protest.

 

David Lammy has taken up one of the issues  Feedland highlights:

Lammy takes an approach to the statue issues which many will agree with:

After the scuffling and fighting it is unlikely that anybody is going to want to side with yesterday’s would-be defenders of Churchill.

Yet there are those who not only wish to fight the culture wars but to oppose the far-right (on this issue) in the streets,

Weyman Bennett, co convenor Stand Up To Racism said

“It is right to take a presence on the streets – we should not let the fascists go unopposed. For the past two decades we have been told when Nazis march ‘ignore them and they will go away’. This simply is not true.

“Without the encouragement of Boris Johnson pretending that the issue of Bkack Lives Matter is reduced down to statues. He has not engaged on the key point about racism and its systemic nature in this society.

“Johnson’s callous disregard for black people’s lives in the current Coronavirus crisis and also for the mistreatment by the police and the court system, is an other attempt to reinforce racism and we must reject reject this and demand justice. No justice no peace”.

Weymann Beynett is a leading member of the SWP.

Here is his plea during the EU referendum, when the SWP and the ‘Lexit’ left stood on the side of the hard-right and backed the Johnson, Cummings and Farage Brexit project and opposed internationalists.

SocialistWorker

Stand up to Racism: Keep racism out of the EU Referendum – Weyman Bennett

His party paper reports today:

 

Around 5,000 Nazis and racists gathered in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday. Hundreds of the thugs tried to carry out a violent attack on Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.

It’s a warning of how the British far right is hoping to initiate a right wing backlash against the BLM movement.

But they can be humbled. That was underlined late in the day on Saturday when several thousand people who had seen the pictures of the far right answered calls from musician Megaman and others to come to central London to oppose them.

Up to 300 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) joined a counter-protest in Hyde Park where they faced abuse and intimidation from the far right.

..

The fascists’ 5,000 was small compared to the 50,000 that came out last Saturday and the monster march last Sunday.

BLM organisers had planned another central London demonstration for this Saturday. But called it off out of fears of clashes with the far right and coronavirus concerns.

The far right may feel confident after their protest. But seeing tens of thousands of people—black, white, overwhelmingly young, and militant—on the streets is the best way to demoralise them and make sure they cannot regroup.

There are others who take an even more forthright position.

These responses do not look like calls for unity:

And there is this:

The Malcolm X Movement has a web site.

Its last pubic event was in 2017.

Here is one in 2016,

The Malcolm X Movement proudly hosts the premier of a hard-hitting, informative and inspiring look at African and Libyan popular anti-imperialist resistance entitled Nato War on Libya (53mins). We are also hosting at the same event a book launch of a collection of writings about the martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi entitled On the Martyrdom of Muammar Gaddafi: 21st Century Fascism and Resistance. One of our MXM coordinators – Sukant Chandan is the editor of the book and the filmmaker of the doc.
The event takes place this Sat 29th Oct at 6pm at Marx Memorial Library,  EC1R 0DU (£5 suggested entry). The Libyan community are kindly and generously providing free Libyan snacks and refreshments at this event.

Culture Wars, Black Lives Matter, and Labour’s Future.

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America Protests Minnesota

Culture Wars: Protesters have pulled down a statute of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol.

“Parts of the left have spent the months since Keir Starmer was elected leader attacking him for “losing the working-class base” through his social liberalism. Now he’s faced with attacks from the same corner for failing to support the destruction of the Colston statue.”

Paul Mason. To defeat the far right, Labour must lead the anti-racist movement

In his analysis of the Black Lives movement Paul Mason makes the cutting point that  recently a certain left press, from the Morning Star downwards, was full of attacks on the “metropolitan liberal” Keir Starmer and the internationalist pro-EU left. The Bluff Workers of the Red Wall would not put up with this North London elitism.

Things have changed.

This week the Morning Star took it upon itself to comment Editorially,

Colston’s toppled statue links the anti-racist and anti-imperialist causes

KEIR STARMER’S description of the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol as “completely wrong,” like Priti Patel’s claim that it was “utterly disgraceful,” show their distance from what has become an international movement against racism.

They recommend creating  “building the broadest possible anti-racist alliance – one which connects racial oppression to capitalism. A movement that targets a system of which the whole working class are the victims and an imperialist global order based on exploitation and war.” – an alliance, one assumes, which keeps Keir Starmer at a distance.

Such a movement would develop a consistency the Labour leadership lacks, as it tries to square sympathy with anti-Trump protesters in the US with support for Washington’s aggression abroad.

While pondering on just what US “aggression” the Labour Leader supports we should not that other spokespeople for the Red Wall  have stood their ground.

Anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery (promoted by the Socialist Party as head of Trade Unionists Against the EU during the referendum), (1) says,

Now, in stark contrast,  his old anti-EU muckers in the Socialist Party are ready to advise Black Lives protesters,

Black Lives Matter protests sweep country: How can the movement win?

Sir Keir Starmer told LBC radio: “It shouldn’t have been done in that way, [it was] completely wrong to pull a statue down like that.” With this comment, and also in his approach to Covid, he has shown that he is not prepared to stand up for working-class people and defy the Tories – in bronze or in parliament.

The movement will have to build its own leadership through a testing of ideas and organisation as it develops.

And what would that involve?

To be on the side of this movement means drawing on the conclusion of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers: “You can’t have capitalism without racism”.

What does that mean for building the Black Lives Matter movement? It means building a mass united movement of working-class people with anti-racism at its heart; that fights for workplace safety and PPE for all who need it; for fighting trade unions; for free education; for democratic working class control of the police, and for a future for all young people. It means building a new mass party of workers and young people because we can’t trust the capitalist politicians with our lives and our future.

And it means fighting for the alternative to capitalism – socialism. Capitalism is outmoded. It can’t offer us a future. Join the Socialist Party to help us raise these ideas in the new movement.

The militantly pro-Brexit George Galloway’s new party has its own take.

Socialist Worker publishes this appeal, from the USA, by Michael Brown.

 we need to take these rebellions and uprisings to their most radical conclusions.

Already we have certain sections of the state—particularly the Democratic Party—that are offering concessions.

At this point, we need to be demanding and raising reforms but keep in mind that the system is rotten.

It needs to be uprooted, branch and root entirely. We’ve exhausted all other social means.

The power is in the streets. It’s not enough to write to your congressman or circulate a petition anymore.

And first and foremost the ruling class is scared because people are looting and burning, and defying curfews. That type of militant power in the streets is what we need.

The revolt runs deep—take it to its most radical conclusions

Others from the pro-Brexit camp remain reserved.

Pontificating Prelate Giles Fraser, once the darling of protesters against neo-liberal globalisation, now a Tory voter retweets,

Are there different approaches, ones that avoid the naked opportunism of sections of the left, and the reactionary response of the Blue Labour and Red-Brown Spiked?

As with all his writing Paul Mason’s important article should be read in full.

Key points include that the movement shows two striking aspects:

The first is an expression of power and solidarity by black Britons. Though the London demos have been multi-ethnic, when seen as black community events they are unparalleled in size. The university students, the taxi drivers, the cleaners, the church congregations, the football teams, the DJs and the civil servants of black London were drawn together in one place. These were not “activists” – they were families and friends mobilised together.

The second aspect of these events is they are a political project. They reflect the desire of multi-ethnic urban communities to decisively roll back the racism they see pervading their everyday experience: they have had enough, and a response has been coming for years.

He continues,

And that leads to the third characteristic of this moment. It is a major challenge to the Labour Party.

 

….

The black community, like everyone interested in politics, understands that there will not be a progressive government in this country unless Labour can take back its former northern heartlands. But the implicit question posed by the recent demonstrations was: “OK, but on what basis?”

Neither the Socialist Party’s call for a “mass united movement” around their own party, nor the SWP’s belief that “militant power in the streets” is on the political agenda, look likely, or are designed to help this objective. Nor are they likely  to win many converts.

But taking back voters is a hard subject. Labour has to be convincing, not just story-telling It is far from sure that we can will into being an alliance of the ‘Red Wall’ and socially liberal internationalists with a counter-movement and narrative, around the themes Mason suggests, the “family, fairness, hard work and decency” agenda.

If we are talking about a political project  deft national populism Tory, far right, and Red-Brown , one that can relate to Keir Starmer’s team in the Labour Party, but with a much broader appeal and some solid policy behind it.

I’d start looking at some of the ideas coming from new alliances of the greens, centre left socialists and social democrats, and*significant figures of the radical left, that are emerging in France around l’initiative commune, on radical changes to create an open modern and decent welfare system, raising working standards and pay, better, public services, tax reform, ecological transition (the ‘Green New Deal’, for more details see Au cœur de la crise, construisons l’avenir (2)

These efforts to bring people together for a positive future are encouraging, and should expand to include the issues Black Lives Matter raise.

Without this kind of compass plunging directly into the ‘culture’ wars looks a risky  task.

To begin with the sheer size and breadth of the moment we undergoing looks fraught with difficulties.

As Joseph Harker says in the Guardian today,

Black Lives Matter’ risks becoming an empty slogan. It’s not enough to defeat racism

If I hear one more white person say “Black Lives Matter” I think my head will explode. The slogan, powerful when first popularised by black people after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 in the US, has now become so ubiquitous as to have lost almost all meaning. A way for people to endlessly repeat “I hate racism” while doing nothing to actually stop it.

When even Boris Johnson can say “Black Lives Matter” – the same Boris Johnson who talks of African piccaninnies, of “bank robber” burqa wearers, who leads a party riven by Islamophobia but refuses a proper investigation into it, and who was part of a government that deported black British citizens, and continues the injustice of the hostile environment to this day – well, you know the slogan’s cultural appropriation is complete.

This brilliant article reminds one of this comment today:

Some further points can be made.

My own ancestors in Ireland, Glasgow and the East End did not get much of the Imperial “surplus wealth” or, I could cite Ireland as an obvious case, benefited from racism……

This Blog suggests that while the culture wars around the issues of racism are important we should not end with statues from the legacy of the slave trade,  British imperialism, or wider European colonisation.

It is not just a reckoning with the past, or present day American or European black lives that matter.

Certainly this is not helped by pulling stuff from television.

Given the state of the world this looks pretty small.

As internationalists we should be fighting the prejudice and disdain which has led many, including on the left, to ignore the millions of Syrian lives at threat from the Assad regime  and the millions of African  lives at risk in present day horrific civil conflict.

In the first instance we await the Morning Star’s support for the victims of the Baathist regime.

 

*******

(1) Paul Embery speaks at the TUSC meeting in Cardiff photo Ross Saunders   (Click to enlarge)

Ross Saunders and Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

The ‘Socialist Case Against the EU’ tour held a lively and fraternal meeting in Cardiff on 9 June.

The tour is organised by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which supports a Leave vote, and includes transport union RMT and the Socialist Party.

(2) “Des figures intellectuelles et politiques de la gauche et de l’écologie appellent à une « initiative commune »

14th of May Le Monde.

The list of names indicates the breadth of the appeal.

On peut y trouver les ténors de la gauche et des écologistes : les députés socialistes Olivier Faure et Valérie Rabault, les députés européens Raphaël Glucksmann et Aurore Lalucq, la présidente de région Occitanie, Carole Delga, et les maires Johanna Rolland (Nantes) et Nathalie Appéré (Rennes) ; les écologistes Yannick Jadot, Sandra Regol, Eric Piolle et Eva Sas ; les amis de Benoît Hamon, Guillaume Balas et Claire Monod ; les communistes Ian Brossat et Pierre Laurent.

Ils ont été rejoints par un large panel associatif et syndical et de nombreux intellectuels progressistes. On peut remarquer ainsi les signatures personnelles des anciennes ministres passées au monde des ONG Cécile Duflot (Oxfam) et Najat Vallaud-Belkacem (One), de l’ex-président d’Emmaüs Thierry Kuhn, de l’urgentiste Rony Brauman, des anciens syndicalistes Bernard Thibault, Bernadette Groison ou Annick Coupé, des altermondialistes Gus Massiah et Christophe Aguiton. Des intellectuels de renom ont aussi paraphé l’appel, tels Thomas Piketty, Julia Cagé, Pierre Charbonnier, Dominique Méda et Sandra Laugier.