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The Wind is Changing to Internationalism: Labour Representation Committee (LRC) Backs “Remain and rebel”. stand.

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Image result for Tariq Ali Lexit meeting

Lexit is dead, but considering the state of the left, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which its shadow will be shown.

The prospect of a Boris Johnson government enforcing a No Deal Brexit by decree (through “proroguing” Parliament) is concentrating minds.

The LRC has come down on the right side, or as they put it on Brexit, there is “Only one principled side to come down on – remain. Socialists do not fudge the issues of racism and workers’ rights.”

Things have indeed changed.

The following document was adopted by the National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee on June 29th. It should be noted that this was before the Labour Party National Executive shifted the Party’s position, though we have been regrettably slow in publishing our change of attitude. It should also be noted, that, unlike the official Party view, we argue for the Party to support Remain and Rebel in all circumstances, including in the manifesto for the General Election, whenever it comes, and will be arguing for proposals to this effect at Party conference in September.

The LR is the biggest ‘hard left’ organisation in the Labour Party.

July 16th Remain and Rebel

This is a long statement which should be read in full.

Extracts:

It is increasingly clear that until the Brexit issue is resolved, there can be no return to “normal” politics”.

Hence, we should take up the call for “Remain and Rebel”, rather than simply Remain. That means developing a programme, together with the left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism, including the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and Fourth Railway Directive (intended to “liberalise” rail services across the EU). It means opposing `Fortress Europe’, which has led to the horrendous scenes of migrants dying and being held in dire circumstances at Europe’s borders. It means arguing for free movement. It means supporting those fighting neo-liberalism across Europe, something which failed to happen when the Greek working class was under sustained attack. In response to those who argue that employers use migrant workers to undercut wages and strikes, we argue for campaigns to unionise migrant workers and combat racism.

Not only does the current division mean that we can no longer fudge the issue, but the idea that we can instead talk about class politics is dangerous. Racism and attacks on workers’ rights ARE class issues. And we should also point out that if the Tories were to impose a no deal Brexit, the idea that discussion on Brexit would be over would be pie in the sky; we would be discussing as well as fighting against the disastrous impact of this for years – potentially generations – to come.

Key points:

  • As in the original (2016) referendum, if we are to come down off the fence and drop the fudge, there is only one principled side to come down on – remain. Socialists do not fudge the issues of racism and workers’ rights.
  • However, that does not mean we are uncritical EUphiles, like the Liberal Democrats and the likes of Watson in the PLP (who often appear to be more concerned with using this issue among others to attack Corbyn, rather than serious discussion of the questions involved). Despite the exaggeration by some (such as the claim that the drive for the privatisation came from the EU rather than Britain’s own neoliberals), we recognise that the EU is currently wedded to neoliberalism, and the need for socialists to fight it. The fact that the Leave campaign want to leave to allow even less regulation does not make us uncritical of the EU. On the contrary, we recognise the need to link up with socialists and trades unions across the EU and beyond to fight neoliberalism. That such a fight can succeed on national territory is the myth it always was. International capitalism will attempt to undermine any fight against neoliberalism whether we are in the EU or not.
  • Hence, we should take up the call for “Remain and Rebel”, rather than simply Remain. That means developing a programme, together with the left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism, including the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties and Fourth Railway Directive (intended to “liberalise” rail services across the EU). It means opposing `Fortress Europe’, which has led to the horrendous scenes of migrants dying and being held in dire circumstances at Europe’s borders. It means arguing for free movement. It means supporting those fighting neo-liberalism across Europe, something which failed to happen when the Greek working class was under sustained attack. In response to those who argue that employers use migrant workers to undercut wages and strikes, we argue for campaigns to unionise migrant workers and combat racism.
  • In response to claims that to argue for Remain is to ignore the referendum and fly in the face of that decision, we respond that, while this might have been a legitimate argument in the immediate aftermath, it cannot hold forever, particularly in the light of the way Brexit has become bogged down over the last 3 years. We also point out that there were many problems with the first referendum particularly the exclusion of EU nationals and 16-18-year olds – both of whom had a particular stake in its results. We would argue that both these groups must have a vote in any future referendum – or indeed in a general election. At the same time, sharpening our political and economic offer will allow us to reach out to communities where leave had a majority in the referendum. However, any reversal of the referendum decision will need democratic legitimacy, either by a further referendum or a General Election in which Labour makes support for remain and rebel a central aspect of our manifesto.
  • In response to those who say that a reversal of the referendum decision or a rerun would give more grist to the mill of the far right, we can only argue that they have already been strengthened by the first decision, and little Englander nationalism will be further strengthened if we actually leave the EU. We will not defeat the far right by pandering to their prejudices.
  • There are several routes by which the UK could remain in the EU – revocation of article 50 (probably followed by a general election); a general election in which it was clear where the winners stood; or a confirmatory vote. In the current situation, any of these is likely (or not) and there is no overwhelming preference for any one over the others. We would, however, point out that even if a referendum were to take place and the decision to leave be reversed, we would obviously still want to force a general election to get rid of the Tory government.
  • It is not enough for the Party to come out for a confirmatory vote “whatever the deal”. The Party has to commit itself to fighting for remain to be an option in such a referendum and to campaign for a vote for remain on the basis of `Remain and Rebel’. Similarly, `Remain and Rebel’ has to be in the manifesto for a general election. And any campaign for Remain and Rebel this time round must and can be driven by the left – not by people like Alan Johnson who were part of the reason remain did not win last time round. Winning is not a forgone conclusion – but if we do not grasp this nettle the slow car crash McDonnell has predicted may well be.

Exactly.

We will neither defeat national populism by “understanding” the racism that pits the “somewhere” people against the “nowhere” cosmopolitans, the North against the South, the “real” working class against the metropolitan workers and migrants, the genuine British poor against the good-for-nothings.

Socialism brings people together for democratic and social rights. It is internationalist, it is based on co-operation across the world. The EU is a structure within which we rebel, reform and change. That is to join with “left and trade unions across Europe to fight neo-liberalism” 

Outside the EU we stand alone against Trump and the rest of the WTO.

Long live solidarity! 

This Monday meeting is still sending out waves: Rick Parnet, the Clarion (read full article through link).

Love Socialism MPs’ rise shows we can turn the tide on Brexit

The ‘Love Socialism’ anti-Brexit meeting in Parliament last night, 15 July, was packed – maybe 120 people in a small committee room with many more who failed to get in – and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Unsurprisingly: among the 20-odd Labour MPs present were not only the original Love Socialism Hate Brexit people but new additions which included Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Diane Abbott and various other senior figures. All made strong – to one degree or another – anti-Brexit and pro-Remain speeches. John McDonnell, who was at an Stop Heathrow Expansion meeting in his constituency, sent a message which was also pro-Remain.

Love Socialism Hate Brexit has rebranded as Love Socialism, Rebuild Britain, Transform Europe. While the relationship of the shadow cabinet big hitters to the new group isn’t clear, they are clearly tilting towards it. There was talk from LSHB founder Clive Lewis of having held the foxhole and reinforcements arriving.

It is positive that Labour MPs feel the need to talk in a leftie way, and even talk about socialism; no doubt some of them have shifted left and no doubt some of them are giving their own, previously more suppressed, inclinations free rein. But we should not get carried away. While building a broad left movement against Brexit, we should try to draw out policy issues (including on free movement and migrants’ rights), promoting radical left policies and workers’ struggles, and encourage discussion about what socialism actually is.

Secondly, there will undoubtedly be differences in assessment of Labour’s new position and how much there is a need to push further. For all kinds of reasons, and whatever the tactical issues about encouraging rather demoralising the movement, I think we cannot be content. In what was generally an excellent speech Clive Lewis struck an off note for me when he concluded by saying – or sounding like he was saying – we need to get behind the policy and not criticise.

The work of the MPs has been important to shifting Labour as far as it has gone. But the work of grassroots left anti-Brexit groups and activists, in the push for Labour Party conference and on the streets, will be critical in turning the shift into victory. Whatever about his wider politics and what he meant by it, Keir Starmer was surely right when he called for activists to keep up the pressure on the leadership.

From the Red-Brown Front, the Full Brexit, the wails and groans continue from the caverns of darkness.

Long read | Labour’s Brexit capitulation is the end of Corbynism

Dr Lee Jones is Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and a co-founder of The Full Brexit network.

Corbyn might have delivered a different outcome if he was a better strategist and properly understood Brexit as a pivot for democratic transformation, rather than a distraction from his anti-austerity agenda. He might have supported grassroots deselection campaigns rather than cutting off Momentum at the knees. He could have developed a positive, socialist platform for Brexit, to win over metropolitan voters and prevent the hardening of Remain as a political identity. But he did not. Perhaps he and his advisers understood that they would always have been fighting an uphill battle against the interests of his base in the party, and so they ducked it.

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Labour Representation Committee (LRC) Heads For Oblivion as it Backs ‘Labour Against the Witch-Hunt’.

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Image result for labour against the witchhunt LRC

Top LRC Activists.

Labour Against the Witch-hunt, an alliance of Jackie Walker, The Weekly Worker (CPGB – Provisional Central Committee) and the Monster Raving Tony Greenstein Party is a at the fringes of the fringes.

This is from its recent (a few dozen strong) conference resolution,

Position agreed unanimously at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019.

The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn

The war of attrition against Corbyn as Labour leader, carried out by an alliance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Party bureaucracy, the Israeli state, the pro-Israel lobby and the mainstream media, began even before he was elected. Corbyn was portrayed as a terrorist sympathiser, a security risk and an all-round danger to society.

That somebody like Greenstein is involved, and that the campaign makes statements like this, means, simply, that nobody with an ounce of sense will have anything to do with the group.

Not so the Labour Representation Committee.

They welcome them as affiliates and give their policies support.

LAW stands alongside a long list, including Gerry Downing (as an individual), Labour Party Marxists (the Weekly Worker wearing another cap) the New Communist Party, Britain’s Posadist (in fact a rather pleasant woman), the Brent Soviet, the late Ted Grant’s followers in Socialist Appeal, and other political confetti.

LAW stands out for its relentless, “absolute Anti-Zionism’. It has managed to piss off a lengthy list of would-be supporters, from Marc Wadsworth to  Michael Mansfield QC – who no longer have anything to with the clique.

Greenstein himself is launching yet another ‘crowd funding’ for a legal action against his numerous enemies.

Perhaps he would do better spending his time on holiday, as he did last summer, in Italy.

Yesterday this came out,

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has written an open letter to John McDonnell, urging the Shadow Chancellor to “stop the double speak” or resign.

Stop the Double Speak John McDonnellTell the Labour Representation Committee conference this weekend that by referring to antisemitism as smears, they are the problem. Or resign from the LRC.

Dear John McDonnell,

We write to you as Jewish and non-Jewish members, supporters and former supporters of the Labour Party – but supported by the wider Jewish community. This weekend you will be addressing the conference of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), which you are President.

Just this week you were clear that allegations of anti-Jewish racism in our party are real and not smears. The LRC believe that they have the right, without any input from the Jewish community to define antisemitism. For the conference this weekend the LRC National Executive have published a 48 point statement for debate and discussion, several points are dedicated to antisemitism and Jews. The language used mocks Jews who raise antisemitism and consistently claim that we are acting in bad faith. The amendments published that have been proposed by ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ in the name of expelled Labour member Tony Greenstein are even worse. LRC exists within and nurtures a culture of antisemitism.

LRC are affiliated with both ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ and ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ (JVL). Both organisations ridicule and minimise the real lived experiences of victims of antisemitism. Just this week also on LBC Radio, Naomi Wimborne-Iddrisi of JVL openly mocked our Parliamentary Chair Luciana Berger who has been a victim of death threats. Neither bodies nor individuals associated with these organisations should be given a platform and you should not be indulging these conspiracists.

The LRC completely reject the IHRA definition of antisemitism or any definition that the victims of antisemitism, the Jewish community, feel reflect the prejudice they experience. This approach is in no way consistent with any established conventions within anti-racism movements.

Such a culture feeds an environment whereby Jewish MPs such as Luciana Berger receive death threats, abuse and threats of violence. It feeds a culture whereby Jews across the party are targeted for deselection, sanction or intimidation. It feeds a culture of not believing Jews when they are on the receiving end of hate. It feeds the cancer of antisemitism in our party.
It is not consistent to be honestly robust in an LBC interview without being equally robust to your own supporters at the LRC.

We hope and expect that you will be clear to the LRC that you will say that ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ and ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ are corrosive to our values and that the LRC should not work with them or indeed anyone suspended or expelled from the Labour Party.

LRC are feeding the problem and unless they change their position of condoning and nurturing this racism in our party then you cannot and should not have anything further to do with them and they also should have no place in the Labour Party.

We look forward to hearing your comments this weekend.

Now this is one of the issues in the controversy.

Labour’s NEC blocks parliamentary candidate over tweets about Hitler and Jewish MP

The NEC decided Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt brought the Labour Party into disrepute.

Labour’s ruling body has decided not to back a woman to be a parliamentary candidate over tweets about Hitler and the “Zionist sympathies” of a Jewish MP.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) decided not to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt to stand for Labour in South Thanet on the basis that she had brought the party into disrepute.

Ms Gordon-Nesbitt was selected in April, having joining Labour when Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

But, writing on Facebook on Tuesday, she said the NEC had decided not to back her over tweets posted from a think tank she set up which defended Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker over allegations of antisemitism.

One tweet posted from The Centre for Cultural Change Twitter account asked: “Has anyone looked into Hitler’s policy on Zionism? Might not be mutually exclusive with his later actions #Scapegoating #Corbyn.”

Another tweet called into question the “Zionist sympathies” of John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, who is Jewish.

 

 

This is the reply from the LRC Conference today:

Gerry Downing Expelled from Labour Representation Committee for Anti-Semitism.

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Gerry Downing Unanimously Booted out of LRC.

Gerry Downing was this afternoon expelled from the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), by unanimous decision of the national committee, on grounds of his antisemitism.

From D. O. Saturday 2nd April.

Now that Downing has been kicked out, not just from the Labour Party but from the left-wing LRC, where does his campaign stand?

His pretend Fourth International has called for a united campaign to defend him.

This is their latest statement.

Statement by the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International on the Expulsion of Comrade Gerry Downing from the British Labour party. 22-3-2016

Tony Greenstein partially defended Downing, on narrowly democratic grounds, while solidarising with the witch-hunters on the substantial allegation of ‘anti-semitism’ despite testifying that our comrades are not ‘personally’ racist. This inherently contradictory stance, which coincides with the capitulatory politics of the CPGB whose sympathiser he is, nevertheless did not save him from being witchhunted himself. We welcome his support as far as it goes but continue to demand a proper united front campaign with full freedom of propaganda for the left tendencies to argue their views.

We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that are of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences

We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that is of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences.

He is the latest victim of the renewed onslaught by the supporters of Tony Blair in the Parliamentary party and in the bureaucracy of the Labour party. Whatever our political differences with him for over thirty years he has been the foremost advocate and fighter for the cause of the oppressed Palestinians against their Zionist oppressors in the British labour movement.

This document usefully highlights the fact that now it’s the case of Cde Greenstein that is coming to the fore:

https://tendancecoatesy.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/01c5d-times2barticle2b2527anti-semitism25272b2-4-16.jpg

Telegraph 1st of April.

Activist who derides critics as ‘Zionist scum’ admitted to Labour in latest anti-Semitism scandal to hit Party

Labour admitted a previously barred activist who refers to his critics as  “Zio idiots” and “Zionist scum”, and claimed that Jews supported the Nuremberg laws, it has emerged.

Tony Greenstein, a prominent campaigner from Brighton, was barred from entry to the Party last summer when vetting of new applicant was stepped up during the leadership contest to prevent a surge of “entryism” from groups who did not share the “aims and values” of Labour.

However, following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, Mr Greenstein slipped back into the party unnoticed.

Evidence compiled by Labour’s compliance unit when Mr Greenstein attempted to join the party last summer, seen by The Telegraph, included his claims in online forums Margaret Thatcher was an “obviously legitimate” target for the IRA and that “Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”.

John Mann MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee into Anti-Semitism said that it was “hugely inappropriate” for Mr Greenstein to have been admitted to the Party.

For those on the left who have not been in a cave five hundred metres underground for the last ten years Tony Greenstein is a familiar figure.

He writes for the Weekly Worker, almost entirely on Zionism and Israel.

Although that paper has many articles worth reading – and I say this not just because many of the authors are friends – Greenstein’s obsessive works are not amongst them.

Greenstein’s activities, as an ‘anti-Zionist’, but more significantly within the labour movement and left have earned him an impressive number of enemies over the years. Those who cordially loathe him include not only union ‘bureaucrats’ (hard-working and respected employees of the TUC and Northern Unemployed Workers’ Centres), but also people from every section of the left right up to a  members of an array of anarchist and libertarian groups.

About his only admirers appears to be New Left Review. In 2013 published a strange article, denying that anti-Semitism was a problem in France, and giving a long list of people with Jewish names who are apparently the intellectual ‘gatekeepers’ of the country’s media. It  cited Greenstein’s blog (Tony Greenstein’s Blog) as an authority on something to do with Israel (Gabriel Piterberg Euro-Zionism and its Discontents.)

Greenstein, to his honour, does not deny that anti-Semitism is a problem and that some people can use the issue of Israel for a racist anti-Jewish agenda.

He has campaigned against the ‘anti-Zionist’   Gilad Atzmon precisely on this issue.

On the Downing case he has had this to say (last week).

I have no doubt that neither Downing nor Donovan are anti-Semitic in a personal sense and that is why I would not support their expulsion. But at a time when the anti-Zionist left is under attack in the Labour Party and I am under threat of expulsion personally, I would want to have nothing to do with any campaign Gerry might mount against his expulsion. His behaviour and his politics are insupportable and have weakened the position of anti-Zionists in the party, myself included.

Weekly Worker.

The Times and the Telegraph are therefore completely off the ball.

Recently Cde Greenstein joined the Labour Party.

Because of his past -standing as a candidate in Brighton local elections against Labour,  and ‘difficult’ (to say the least) relations with Brighton Labour Party, not to mention the kind of antagonism outlined above, it is hard, even with the best will in the world, which I do not have,  not to see this as a self-serving stunt.

We intend to treat it as such, and could not care less about the outcome of the Labour Party’s internal review of his membership.

To get involved is to to get entwined.

More importantly it is to divert attention from the cases of serious left-wing activists caught up in attempts to remove them from the Labour Party.

Compare and recall:

Tony Greenstein on Andrew Coates:

However none of that is to justify Andrew Coates chauvinism and racism either. Coates has repeatedly given support to the Israeli state and its claims there on the basis of some Biblical ‘return’. In other words he justifies the colonisation of the West Bank in much the same way as he justifies Israel’s colonisation of Israel behind the Green Line (which has long since been eradicated).”

The Left https://www.facebook.com/groups/869685873109930/? 25th of March 2016.

Let me be clear, I do not support the ‘Zionist state’: I support the right of the Jewish people to exist in the Middle East.

The problem with anti-Zionism in its present form is that many of its supporters are aligned with people who deny that right.

Further discussion on the issue of Israel – its past and present wrongs – has to begin from this observation.

How to be Topp of the Left.

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Curse of St Cricklewood's

The Curse of St Cricklewood’s: ‘GD’.

Russell Brand is said to be about to join Left Unity, the party that’s set to be the new Podemos. The New Year’s Day merger of Socialist Worker with the Big Issue will establish a serious rival to the right-wing press. The success of Marxist World Faction, fighting the CWI’s backsliding on the falling rate of profit, shows that Marxist politics remain at the heart of the mass workers’ movement.

Britain’s left is on the threshold of enjoying a golden age.

But it is inside the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that radical socialism has taking spectacular step forward after spectacular step forward.

What they’re calling the ‘Cricklewood miracle’, the daily meetings of the Brent and Harrow Revolutionary Proletariat, has inspired millions, from High Barnet, to Neasden. 2015 promises to be a bumper year for these class warriors.

In exclusive extracts from the forthcoming ‘How to be Topp: Down with Everythink!” to be published in the Weekly Worker we show some of the remarkable story of the man they couldn’t silence. Born in a tin bath on the mean streets of the Mill Hill banlieue, then leader of the Donbas Soviet and the Residents’ Association of Bishop’s Avenue, it’s a remarkable tale of political courage and foresight. GD, as his cadres call him, has a unique message for the left.

As cde Keable says, “Some leading comrades still behave as if socialist politics are about secret, behind-closed-doors decisions by those who know best, but we will publish GD and let the heavens fall!”

From How to be Topp.

“You kno who this is, e.g. Me, GD, the Curse of St Cicklewood’s. I kan only giv a sec becos they hav got me on the run – the LRC in Britain are after me with their Coshes etc. I know what it means when they catch up, aktually they seldom do, as they cannot run for tooffe.

There is just time to give my felow suferers the fruits of my xperience. You could become Topp of the Left if you want but most activists do not. They let the rite-wing run things. They let the Labor loot-tenants of Kapital kep the Workrs down.”

A few snaps from my Album.

Chair of Right-Wing LRC.

Meeting of Brent and Harrow LRC.

Recent Strike at Friern Barnet Docks.

Historikal Materialism.

“History started badly and hav been getting steadily worse.”

“It began with a lot of capitalists who oppressed and killed everbode. Then they became respactable and took over the Labor Party, the LRC and Labor Breefing – chiz.”

“The Workrs, who are noble, brave, fearless, Jerry Hicks, etc, although you hav various trators, toadys, krawlers, greedy guts, chavs and oiks, stodges of Ukrainian imperialism, John McDonnell, labor misleadrs, Len McCluskey, and the rite-wing of the LRC and the TUC, and.” (Continues: Pages 97 to 343).

The Programm.

“The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterised by a historical krisis of the leadership of the prolytariat.

“The objective konditions for the revolution are so ripe the leaders of the LRC are somewhat rotten.”

“The historical krisis of mankind is reduced to the krisis of the revolutionary leadership, can be resolved only by the Brent and Harrow Proletariat.”

Labour Representation Committee Backs Kurdish Struggle.

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Kurdish Fighters: Our Kith and Kin. 

Yesterday the Labour Representation Committee AGM voted to back the Kurdish struggle.

Cagdas Canbolat from the Daymer Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre made a moving speech describing the current situation of the Kurds in Northern Syria. He talked of the importance of the heroic struggle of the people of Kobane against Isis (Da’esh). Warning against the manoeuvres of the Turkish state and the support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia (all (implicated in allowing the jihadists to flourish),for he stressed the need to be wary of the actions of the Western powers. But, with the common socialist objectives of his organisation and the British left, our priority must be support the Kurdish people’s fight.

In the afternoon the LRC’s views on international affairs were debated.

There was no full resolution on the Kurdish issue, although comrade John McDonnell (MP) has held a welcome meeting in the House of Commons on the topic.

There as however a general declaration in support of the Kurds’ fight, and for their right to self-determination.

During the discussion the Tendance regretted that the LRC had not had time to adopt the very recent Fire Brigades’ Union resolution ,

The FBU Executive Council is appalled by the ongoing siege of the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria by ISIS forces.

The Executive Council notes:

  • The ISIS attack on Kobane and resistance of Kurdish and other local forces.
  • The role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE (all UK/US allies) in building, assisting and encouraging the growth of ISIS.
  • The particular role of the Turkish government in allowing money, arms and fighters across the border to build support for ISIS.
  • The role of Turkey at various times in obstructing the flight of Kurdish and other refugees and in blocking any support for predominantly Kurdish defenders of Kobane, thereby increasing the power and influence of ISIS and likelihood of collapse of opposition to it.

As the union of firefighting humanitarian professionals, we believe it is right to warn of the prospects of a massacre and to demand that governments (including the UK government) act to prevent atrocities. As professionals who have to deal with international humanitarian disasters as well as the effects of terrorism on our own doorstep, we cannot passively fold our arms and do nothing in the face of a likely massacre.

We send our message of solidarity to the workers’ organisations in Turkey, Iran and Iraq, including the Kurdish workers’ organisations. We believe these are the progressive forces that can oppose oppressive governments and reactionary and sectarian forces of all types, and can best guarantee workers’ rights and ensure democratic relations between the peoples of the region.

We support the right of Kurdish people across the Middle East to self-determination, including their right to defend themselves against attack from ISIS.

We oppose the horrific brutality of ISIS and its sectarian and murderous behaviour towards peoples of the region.

We condemn the Turkish government’s comments equating Kurdish fighters (including the defenders of Kobane) with ISIS.

We have no confidence in a US/UK/French bombing campaign against ISIS, based on the bitter experience of such efforts in the last decade and on the appalling role played by the Turkish government and other key western allies in the region.

We demand that:

  • The Turkish government lifts border obstructions to refugees.
  • The Turkish government allows relief efforts, including by opening a relief corridor to the Kurds and other forces defending Kobane.

We call for the TUC to raise these matters urgently, including with the Turkish embassy, the UK government and with trade unions in Europe and elsewhere. We call for international trade union solidarity and support for the defenders of Kobane.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally

Matt Wrack
General Secretary

FBU

Afterwards I interviewed comrade Cagdas Canbolat.

He reiterated the importance of Kobane, the Kurdish defence of diversity in a region where this is threatened, and the role of women in leading their struggle against the genocidal Islamists.

Back in Ipswich that evening – at nearly ten o’clock – I went into a Kurdish run Newsagents/Off Licence on my way home.

Having already in the recent past already discussed the Kurdish fight with the people there I mentioned the debates at the LRC Conference.

Immediately the proprietor grasped his mobile and showed me pictures of him and his wife at last Saturday’s London day of Solidarity with Kobane.

He began talking about the bravery of the women fighters of the YPG – People’s Protection Units.

I asked if he had seen the video of the Kurdish comrades with the Italian Partisan Song, Bella Ciao.

He sang the first words!

I said that what I liked about the Kurds was that they are “normal people”.

By this I meant – and was understood to mean – that they are simply ordinary decent people.

He liked that expression and repeated it.

A phrase I used in the LRC debate was that these are our “kith and kin“.

That is, people who know, people we feel at ease with, not a special ‘heroic’ ‘victim’ group.

They are friends, neighbours – in my case a number of allotment holders, those who come to the Ipswich Trades Council May Day events, and those I have taught English to.

Nothing special – just plain decent people.

We in the labour movement and left do know the Kurdish organisations – they have supported us, they are part of us.

Ordinary or not the Kurds of Northern Syria are called on to do extraordinary acts.

As our flesh and blood they must be supported to the hilt.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2014 at 11:40 am

Hackney, Independent Hipster Republic: New Left Strategy.

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SmKNNke

Innovative Hipster Green Transport.

Faced with the meltdown of British politics the left needs new thinking.

As a service to the movement Tendance Coatesy presents extracts from this (leaked) document, which will be discussed as policy by the Left Unity Party and the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) at their forthcoming conferences.

“The success of comrade Alex Salmond in Scotland and the rise of UKIP shows the need for radical changes in left policies.

Drawing on the best social democratic traditions of the SNP, Beppe Grillo (MoVimento Cinque Stelle), and Lyndon LaRouche Left Unity and the LRC must take steps to change, fo’ shizzel.”

“Our programme begins with the Hipster base of the new vanguard of leftward moving masses.”

“Hackney is Amazeballs, totes!”

But what do we have?

Shit, dude, my bad’

The Independent ‘ipster Republic of Hackney – confederated with the Scottish Radical Independence Campaign – aims to change this.

Our borough is a fest burg – free from the control of the Westminster Monarchy and her Labour, Tory and Liberal political elite.

Our policies include:

  • Promoting  reuse: recycled hamsters, lucozade and taurine drinks in gourds.
  • Niche products: bladderwrack steak and absinthe flavoured chips.
  • A new University of Gerry Healy Studies – with no student fees!
  • Free crystal therapy care.
  • Promoting Hipster Hygiene in a new public baths. Though hipsters participate in the no shampoo and no soap movement, most keep clean with olive oil scrapers.
  • Cuneiform – the original writing form destroyed by Orientalists – to be taught in all schools.
  • Promoting ‘ipster enterprise:

hfs6ytt

How we will we pay for this?

Taking a leaf out of the SNP’s book we plan to offer an attractive package to socially aware and smartly ironic City enterprises to relocate in Hackney with a 20% reduction in all taxes.

Negotiations are underway with Donald Trump to build hipster golf courses on Hackney marshes.

We plan to stand and support no candidates in any elections.

But we will issue the following mordant campaign song,

“Wiv a ladder and some glasses, you can see to ‘ackney marshes, if it wasn’t for the ‘ipsters in-between!”

Labour Representation Committee Conference.

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This year’s Labour Representation Committee (LRC) AGM was the first the Tendance has attended.

We joined, because Labour Briefing is now the official journal of the LRC. It seems a good idea to go along to the meeting of  a left paper that has played a significant role on the left for several decades.

The turnout for the event was as Stan Keable in the Weekly Worker describes,

There were slightly more than 100 comrades attending the November 23 annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee in London’s Conway Hall. That is down by a third compared with last year. Bad news for what is an umbrella organisation of the pro-Labour Party left, but surely reflective of the general state of the left in Britain.

He puts the LRC’s importance in this context,

The LRC also has significant organisational affiliates, including six national trade unions (Aslef, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, NUM and RMT), numerous trade union branches and regions, constituency and branch Labour Parties, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Campaign for Socialism (Scotland), and a variety of communist and socialist organisations.

It is hard to comment on Comrade Keable’s detailed remarks about the functioning of the LRC, and the “office problem”,  since we do not have direct information on this. The Briefing is something we can all judge. Against the Weekly Worker article we would  that Briefing has changed, though perhaps “renewed” – for the better – is a more balanced description.

Of the speeches Owen Jones was uplifting, pointing to the successes of such initiatives as the People’s Assembly. Keable dismisses this as his “usual fare” – ignoring the importance People’s Assemblies have taken on the ground.

John McDonnell MP was excellent. You can take this argument whatever way you wish:  “People are still voting Labour,” he said. “We must nourish struggles within the party by building struggles outside.”

Stan rightly underlines the importance of the contributions made by “two activists from the Boycott Welfare campaign, Clive and Robert, gave a moving contribution from the platform as guest speakers. Unemployed people and benefit claimants are clearly being badly maltreated by the system. Half a million have been already denied benefits under the workfare system, they reported.”

These are issues dear to our heart and the LCR, and associated Labour MPs, are to be congratulated for making the campaigns against  of Workfare, Universal Credit and Sanctions, not to mention ATOS, a priority. We were able to develop our contacts with Boycott Workfare by talking to the activists during the break.

Jeremy Corbyn MP gave a more nuanced  portrait of the 1945 Labour government than has recently appeared (notably in the Ken Loach film, the Spirit of 45). Its record was exceptionally largely positive, but it had been Atlanticist and a far from a consistently principled anti-colonialist government.

Mark Serwotka is patronised by Comrade Keable (whose style is rapidly tiring). “he would not waste time repeating “how bad it is”. We need to talk about “what we’re going to do about it”.

I did not get a chance to speak to guest speaker Philippe Marlière of the Front de Gauche (Left Front) – with whom I have contacts. He  must have felt cheered by the serious speakers listed above, though less encouraged by some of the others.

Of these, Stan does not mention the antics of Graham Durham who seemed eager to hog the limelight at every opportunity. His virulent attacks on Len McCluskey  and the LRC elected Committee (amongst others) and his support for Murdoch’s man in UNITE, Jerry Hicks,  struck a sour note.

Durham’s only accurate observation was on the lines that every meeting he attended got smaller.

We wonder why.

There was also an extraordinary  motion by something called Socialist Fight, on Syria.

This noted that “Negotiation with Russia and Iran disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and so prepare for a future attack against weaker enemies.”

It ended, “The defeat of this utterly bogus ‘revolution’ will defend a relatively secular administration, strengthen the Syrian working class against Assad and dent chauvinism  in US, Britain and France.”

This was roundly defeated in favour of a policy of defending democratic movements in Syria against Assad and opposing the Western backed jihadists.

There was a debate on the Labour-Union link.

Andrew Berry from Unison, Maria Exall of the CWU and Ian Hudson of the bakers’ union (BFAWU) all made pertinent speeches – Ian Hudson was particularly rousing.

Labour Party Marxists made an appearance.

Stan Keable led off by citing the phrase, “The Labour Party emerged from the Bowels of the Unions” – a quote he attributed to Ralph Miliband.

Ernest Bevin, who actually made the observation, was hardly a model of democratic practice in his use of the union – T&GWU –  block vote. 

Perhaps next time former members of the CPGB begin talking about the Labour Party they might care to familiarise themselves with its history.

The motion that was passed broadly re-affirmed the importance of keeping unions affiliated to the Labour Party. Keable, this time accurately, mentions that their motion,, which sought “the end of individual ‘opting out’ of trade union political funds”, was voted down by a two-thirds majority. Sadly that majority included the LRC’s political secretary Pete Firmin, though Graham Bash, the de facto editor of Briefing, abstained. “

The motions passed on Europe were, as the Weekly Worker reports, equivocal on the need to defend a perspective of a social, socialist, Europe – a view put forward by both Labour Party Marxists and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. They left space for both this genuine internationalism and a more narrowly focused ‘anti-Brussels’ stand. As the article  states, there was a “refusal to recognise that advocating withdrawal means nationalism.”

The AGM was well worth attending.

I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere during the evening that began in the Dolphin and ended in China Town the most.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 29, 2013 at 11:53 am