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John Rees and Lindsey German on Farage and the Brexit Party – Don’t mention George Galloway!

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Image result for john rees and lindsey german glaooway

Rees and German in Happier Days.

John Rees and Lindsey German have been key people in the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

As effective leader of the People’s Assembly and  Convener of the StWC they have played a significant role in the most important left mobilisations of the new millennium.

Rees and German, who are also leaders of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire (a split from the Socialist Workers Party in 2010), campaigned for Brexit.

Their call for a “People’s Brexit” has got absolutely no echo in the labour movement and the wider public.

The demand for a General Election is a to will for something not in the gift of the Labour opposition.

Now they are trying to come to terms with the rise of Nigel Farage’s Plc, the Brexit Party.

They do not mention Farage backer Galloway, with whom they have a long and close bond, once.

The growth of Nigel Farage’s party is remarkable, but not unstoppable, argues JOHN REES (Morning Star)

Rees explains the high scores for Farage in the opinion polls.

Leave voters have no effective, unequivocal, voice in establishment politics. After three long years of watching the political Establishment twist and turn, squirm and prevaricate, the political system is held in even lower esteem than it was before the referendum took place.

In other words, everything that produced the Leave vote in the first place has become worse in the last three years while the political representation of those who voted Leave is still non-existent.

The secret of the Brexit Party’s success is that it has fill this void.

The Counterfire leader avoids any in-depth discussion about the Brexit Party, part of a wider, a Europe-wide, rise in national populism, its class basis, and the way a “virtual” populism can capture a voting audience. Or how the ‘sovereigntist’ politics of this brand of “insurgency” mix patriotic national “taking back control” with Hard right policies.

He  misses out promoting his own hobby-horse, the defunct People’s Brexit, though loses no time in underlining that Labour has missed the boat for its “divisions”.

The Labour Party is divided and appears to many Leave voters as if it is permanently held hostage by the majority Remain Parliamentary Labour Party and constantly pressured into compromise by the second referendum campaign.

So Leave voters have no effective, unequivocal, voice in establishment politics.

Now what might an unequivocal voice be?

Obviously for Rees one that opposes, those who “dismiss Leave voters as knuckle-dragging racists who simply have to be exposed to the expertly informed opinions of Michael Heseltine, Tony Blair, Vince Cable, and Caroline Lucas until they except the revealed truth.”

No mention of Love Socialism, Hate Brexit.

No mention of the strong left opposition to Brexit, and for a People’s Vote.

The People’s assembly leader has some interest in what he claims is a “couple” (actually four, Claire Fox, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, James Heartfield and Stuart Waiton, ex-Revolutionary Communist Party members, now writing for Spiked), of left-wing Farage fanatics.

Farage has even managed to convince a couple of gullible and/or desperate former leftists to act as window-dressing for his own free-market, NHS privatising, xenophobia.

Honesty would compel him at this moment to register George Galloway’s support for Farage.

The far-right Express reported on April the 24th.

Galloway reveals why he has MUST support Brexit Party – ‘no other party I could vote for’

BREXITEER George Galloway has said it is “not a difficult choice” to support the Brexit Party in the event that Britain is made to stand in the European elections.

There is little doubt that years of close collaboration with the Man in the fedora explain this gap.

Rees stood as a candidate for Galloway’s Respect Party.

In 2012 Counterfire hailed this result, the ‘Bradford Spring’:

Galloway victory: a landslide against war and austerity

Years of dishonestly working with somebody widely known for what he is all too visibly today have left their mark.

Rees recommends,

Indeed, in order to avoid the appearance that Labour had colluded in a class collaborationist relationship which extracted the Tory government from the very deep pit into which it has dug itself, a more or less total surrender by the government would be necessary.

That isn’t going happen, so the negotiations need to end now because all they are doing is sending a message to disillusioned voters that the Labour Party is part of a political Establishment which has already lost their trust.

In short, it makes Farage look like the insurgent outsider and Labour look like pork-barreling insiders.

Fair enough many would say.

But this?

A return to mass rallies would be one vital step in restarting the popular dynamic of support for Corbyn.

But more is required. The essential element now missing — it’s a direct relationship with the mass movements from which Corbyn has historically drawn his strength.

Efforts to conjure up this mass movement by the People’s Assembly have come to little more than a few thousand strong demonstration in London earlier this year.

He commends “the protest outside the Tory Party conference in Manchester in the autumn called by the People’s Assembly and the trade unions.

What has changed since January? 

Lindsey German argues, as one would expect, in the same vein.

An insurgent right can only be fought by an insurgent left – weekly briefing

She notes of the Brexit Party,

Headed by the far-right politician Nigel Farage, the party is projecting itself as an honest, democratic outfit, fielding non-white candidates and some from the erstwhile left in order to appeal to voters across the board who voted leave.

Again no mention of Galloway.

German also has a history of work with the man in the jaunty head-gear.

Famously she defended this decision about the Respect Manifesto in 2005,

George Galloway did not like what he saw. In particular, he objected to the twin questions of gay rights and abortion, which, he insisted, would jeopardise hundreds, if not thousands, of votes in the East End. It was not so much the ordinary muslim voter who would be alienated, but the leaders of the mosque and groups like the Muslim Association of Britain, who might withdraw their backing and influence their followers to do the same.

..

As for the non-appearance of LGBT rights in the manifesto, comrade German made no direct reference to it, but she said: “The idea that this was not an issue is not true – we always took it up.” The other parties were always bringing it up, according to comrade German, claiming that Respect was pro-gay – and despite the fact that they had dropped it from the manifesto too!

Comrade German concluded, totally disingenuously, that the motion had been moved “in bad faith”. No, comrade, you voted for it in bad faith, seeing as you have no intention, if your behaviour at conference is anything to go by, of actually abiding by it.

Notoriously she had said: “I’m in favour of defending gay rights, but I am not prepared to have it as a shibboleth” (see Weekly Worker July 10 2003).

Gay rights ‘shibboleth’

German cannot resist her own version of Rees’ snide attack on opponents of Brexit – including again, if not mentioned, the internationalist left.

Those who have been pushing for a second referendum seem particularly perplexed by this but it has always been obvious that treating the 2016 result as if it simply hadn’t happened, or treating the result as the work of ignorant and stupid people, would help to strengthen the likes of Farage.

No text is cited for the “ignorant and stupid” remark.

And,

The problem is that Labour has been looking less and less like an insurgency. That’s bad enough, but now Farage is claiming the insurgency mantle. Labour needs to get back out on the streets, arguing and campaigning across the country.

Slogans about insurgency – as it can be conjured up by an act of will – cannot hide the fact that those  backing Brexit have contributed to the left’s difficulties.

This is the way forward.

 

 

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“Confusion in politics internationally is great.” Lindsey German, Counterfire.

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Image result for lindsey german press tv

“Great disorder under the Heavens and the situation is excellent.”

The Convener of the Stop the War Coalition and leading member of the groupusucle Counterfire, writes a Weekly Briefing.

It always  brings a kind smile weary activist’s’ lips.

Today her latest has a click-bait title:  The Brexit blizzard is there to blind us; it’s time to take out the Tories and that means a general election, argues Lindsey German

She begins by talking about the  ‘Britain is Broken, We can’t afford the Tories’ campaign which the People’s Assembly (largely Counterfire’s enterprises these days) organised.

After this stirring moment the she shifts to an emollient  mood.

The partner of John, ‘actuality of the revolution’ Rees, brought back some happy memories to this reader,

When I first became politically active nearly 50 years ago, there was a sense of working class power in Britain.”

Followed by a swift turn back to the stony realism for which those who who only during the last election were calling for mass action in the streets against the threat of a Tory “coup” can bring to a debate.

Today, while the majority of people still see themselves as working class, there is not that sense of working class power.

Being a kindly gent myself I can only agree with this comment,

The danger is the combination of Labour adopting a second referendum position, while at the same time doing far too little to support and spread the resistance to Tory austerity policies. That would be an unpopular retreat on the one hand, but also a failure to mobilise working class organisation over issues affecting everyone’s lives. In places like Doncaster or Sunderland, where Labour councils are implementing the austerity policies, that could be a very serious failure indeed.

There is much to learn about “neo-liberals” assembled at the G20 summit. One can only applaud that German keeps us on our toes with this bold  analysis:

It is hard for anyone to see anything but further crises and conflict coming out of the summit.

After, wisely, avoiding details about the Gilets Jaunes the august leader observes,

The confusion in politics internationally is great – there is bitter resentment of governments but no clear path forward. It’s a big task for the left, but one we have to take on.

How true, how very true.

German claims that,

We can make a start by demonstrating against the fascist Tommy Robinson next Sunday 9 December who is using the Brexit issue to spread his hate. I’m very glad that this looks like being one united demo now – well done to those making that happen.

In a spirit of unity I hope to present her with this seasonal gift:

 

Related image

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 3, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Opposing the Air Strikes on Syria; Solidarity with Democratic and Progressive forces against Assad.

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Against Air-Strikes; Against Assad.

It is far from clear what is the best position to take faced with the hecatomb of the Syrian civil war.

Few can reasonably argue that a few military strikes are going to end the horrors, or that a full-scale invasion is either about to take place, or would help anybody.

If a sentence could sum up the stand of many of us on the left it’s the one put forward by the group Socialist Resistance. 

Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad.

As  Joseph Daher points out: The butcher Assad’s regime is “a despotic, capitalist and patrimonial state ruling through violent repression and using various policies such as sectarianism, tribalism, conservatism, and racism to dominate society”. No socialist can support it.

But neither can socialists support imperialist intervention against it. A US led coalition could only bring the regime down by sending in large numbers of troops, a move that would condemn the country to a worse hell than that inflicted on Iraq, in a regional and political situation which is even more volatile. The regrettable fact is that the secular and democratic forces which tried to bring down Assad have been seriously weakened, benefiting the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces on the ground. A settlement based on aggression by the French, Americans, British and their regional supporters will do nothing but create a worse sectarian and ethnic bloodbath.

In more detail the Fourth International publication International Viewpoint explains (“Our Destinies are Linked”: Joseph Daher on the Syrian Revolution.)

How should the internationalist left respond to calls from some Syrians and Kurds for assistance from the United States military?

There is definitely no easy answer, especially when people are getting massacred on one side and, on the other, the USA has no willingness of any regime change in Syria, as has been the case since the beginning of the uprising, or, as we saw, to stop the Turkish intervention against the Kurds in Afrin.

Today the main issue is really demanding the end of the war, an end to all military interventions and guaranteeing rights for the civilians. I expanded on this issue in the last question.

However, while disagreeing with groups demanding military interventions, we should still maintain our solidarity with all the democratic and progressive forces in Syria as well as the Kurdish socialist and democratic forces that resist against the two actors of the counter revolution: the Assad regime on one side and the jihadist and Islamic reactionary forces on the other side.

From this perspective, what we can argue is that it is necessary to defend a local dynamic of self-defense rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism, and therefore we should also support the provision of weapons and arms to these democratic forces in the region to combat both counter-revolutionary forces. These are important element that could empower the democratic and progressive forces on the ground and give them the tools to defend themselves.

For the people who don’t feel at ease with the fact of demanding arms and weapons with no political conditions and strings attached from the West, I would like to invite them to read Trotsky’s “Learn to Think.” [2]

This does not mean of course that we are uncritical of the leadership of these groups that have such demands, and we should maintain our independence and critical opinions, even when dealing with them.

We have to be clear that imperialist actors and regional powers all act according to an imperialist logic that maintains authoritarian and unjust systems. They all oppose the self-determination of the peoples of the region and their struggles for emancipation. Hence, anti-war activists whether in the Middle East or the West need to address all forms of repression and authoritarianism, and condemn all forms of foreign intervention against the interests of the people of the region.

Joseph Daher continues,

What are some direct actions that anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians can take in solidarity with the Syrian people, including those being massacred in Ghouta, Idlib, and Afrin?

Multiple things should be done. I think anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians should call for an end to the war, which has created terrible suffering. It has led to massive displacement of people within the country and driven millions out of it as refugees. The war only benefits the counterrevolutionary forces on all sides. From both a political and humanitarian perspective, the end of the war in Syria is an absolute necessity.

Likewise, we must reject all the attempts to legitimize Assad’s regime, and we must oppose all agreements that enable it to play any role in the country’s future. A blank check given to Assad today will encourage future attempts by other despotic and authoritarian states to crush their populations if they come to revolt.

We have to guarantee as well the rights of civilians within Syria, particularly preventing more forced displacements and securing the rights of refugees (right of return, right for financial compensations in case of destruction of their houses, justice for the losses of their relatives, etc.).

Assad and his various partners in the regime must be held accountable for their crimes. The same goes for the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces and other armed groups.

We need to support the democratic and progressive actors and movements against both sides of the counterrevolution: the regime and its Islamic fundamentalist opponents. We have to build a united front based on the initial objectives of the revolution: democracy, social justice, and equality, saying no to sectarianism and no to racism.

We of course need to oppose all imperialist and authoritarian actors intervening in Syria.

Effectively the same position is taken by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and others:

One theme that has caused great concern on the left is the absence of any clear condemnation of Assad from the main anti-war groups.

Supporters of Counterfire, a split from the Socialist Workers Party, which has paddled in the ocean of revolution but found its home in the safer pond of British pressure group politics, occupies leading positions in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

Lindsey German is a member of Counterfire and the national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition.

The StWC claims to oppose Assad. But her most recent article on the anti-war movement does not find the time to mention “the butchery” of the Assad regime” once.

A primed anti-war movement finds the new warmongers much the same as the old warmongers, writes Lindsey German.

April the 16th.

The strikes carried out by the US Britain and France this weekend have achieved nothing in terms of stopping the suffering of the Syrian people or of making the world a safer place. They are purely a gesture to show that western imperialism can ‘punish’ Russia and Syria, and to help determine the outcome of the war in Syria.

…….

Western imperialism has no clear strategy except more lashing out with little purpose – which is the net effect of this latest attack. The unintended consequence of the war in Iraq has been the strengthening of Iran. The failed strategy of regime change in Syria has also strengthened Iran. So now Iran will move to centre stage.

Donald Trump has appointed advisers, especially Secretary of State John Bolton, who are neocon hawks determined to overthrow the Iranian government. Next month Trump wants to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and to tear up the Iran nuclear deal – both likely to prove major flash points in the Middle East.

And Russia? Politicians and commentators are sighing with relief that they have managed to pull off a strike that was weak enough to avoid direct conflict with Russia. But the tensions between the powers are worse than at any time since the Cold War, and we have nuclear powers involved in clashes in a cockpit of war.

We live in dangerous times and this strike just made them more dangerous.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2018 at 12:43 pm

John Rees and Counterfire: Ministry of Truth Rectifies.

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Diamond Geezer.

Ministry of Truth Communication,

“Tendance Coatesy: unbad Counterfire, John Rees and Lindsey German. Misprints rectify. Immediate upsub to Ministry, vaporise duckspeak or Coatesy joycamp.”

Coatesy writes,

“It has come to our attention that Tendance Blog has published material that may give an impression that John Rees, Lindsey German and Counterfire can be criticised.

Our multi-volume series, “The Struggle against Reesite Liquidationism” and our pamphlet, “What Counterfire is and how to Smash it” are  in the process of being re-edited.

The Children’s book, “The Famous Five Unmask the Zinovievite-Rees Spy Centre” has been returned to the publishers.

We now accept that, following Georg Lukács  that 2 plus 2 can sometimes, in an “Aufhebung ”  be dialectically sublated into 5.”

Sitting at his usual table in the Chestnut Tree Café Coatesy sipped his clove-flavoured Victory Gin.

Watching the telly-screen he saw John Rees on Russia Today.

He felt a swelling of pride: he had always backed Counterfire!

Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

Lindsey German and the Trotskyist Tradition.

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Some Red Knight for the SWP.

On the resignation of prominent SWPer Lindsey German  there is an abudance of commentary. Personally I think she did it on a day that would make it too late to appear in the Weekly Worker. Phil has posted a good summary- more here.

What does this say about the ability of Trotskyist groups to tolerate differences?

In the New Course (1923 – here on-Line), protesting against the  Bolshevik Party ‘monolithicism’ Trotsky tried to get to grips with the problem of democracy.

He wrote,

“If factions are not wanted, there must not be any permanent groupings; if permanent groupings are not wanted, temporary grouping must be avoided; finally, in order that there be no temporary groupings, there must be no differences of opinion, for wherever there are two opinions, people inevitably group together.”

The fate of German’s Left Platform in the SWP – allowed (just) for a brief period before their national conference – is clearly a case of how this logic works. We await John Rees to express his own “different opinion'”.  A short way to becoming “not wanted”.

No doubt then we will learn more about what is really at stake. At present we have just snipes, and curt rudeness.

Trotsky was really only arguing for an element of discussion. John Molyneau of the SWP claims   (here)  that the “Leninist democratic centralist party is both necessary for the success of the revolution and the most democratic form of political organisation”.

Yet Trotsky never accepted the need for full inner-party freedom. In 1923 he buckled. Caught in a  contradiction between the need to agree on One ‘line’, and ‘implement’ it, and the day-to-day clashes of different views, he opted for the primacy of the former.

The Founder of the Fourth International remained hostile to ‘factionalism’ and the need for ‘unity’. Even if, in the 1930s, he came to accept an element of internal party democracy – and even socialist democracy (limited to socialists that is) in a future Workers’ State. This ambiguous  legacy has profoundly influenced the tradition that the SWP stems from.

Molyneau notes (rightly) the pressure of how mainstream party and business organisation influences left groups. He asserts however that, ” democratic pressure from below is all the stronger in a small far-left socialist party, even if it remains overtly passive, because (a) the leaders are plainly not motivated by desire for material privilege, there being none on offer (though sometimes the desire to maintain material security may be a factor); (b) the rank and file are motivated overwhelmingly by conviction; and(c) it is not difficult for them to vote with their feet and leave.”

Perhaps they are doing just that now. But what about posing the question of the freedom of tendencies? Molyneau – unlike German and her partner John Rees, sees some merit in the LCR/Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste’s practice of internal liberty for ‘actions’. It might be that this norm has something to teach the British left – the split of the Piquet tendency (Gauche Unitaire) had none of the Left Platform’s  drawn out drama. In some regions the NPA even co-operates with the GU in the Front de Gauche. Surely this is Rees’ famous ‘united front’ in practice.

More fundamentally we have to recognise that all politics involves potential stasis – upsetting, challenging, subverting, existing rulers, central committees, leaderships. Turbulence, in short. Or more simply, efforts at policy change. The SWP is tearing itself apart by not having a way of letting this happen in a democratic arena.

The leader of German’s Left Platform, JohnRees deserves no sympathy since his own conception of the Party – derived from the early György Lukács mixed with Trotksy’s most centralist writings  – is hostile to such a  democratic forum. For those who follow this line the Party is the bearer of proletarian consciousness, that pierce to the ‘actuality’ of the revolution through its ‘epistemological’ mechanisms. Disagreements simply get in the way.

As German clearly was and is.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Left, SWP, Trotskyism

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