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White Guilt. From Stickers in Ipswich to Identitarian Politics.

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Racist stickers found on streets of Ipswich

A council has taken down around 60 white supremacist posters plastered around a UK town over the weekend, authorities have said.

“It’s OK to be white” and “reject white guilt” were written on signs across Ipswich, according to images shared on social media.

Max Stocker, a council spokesperson, told The Independent they have been working to remove the posters, which also included the message “beware non-white rape gangs”.

Similar messages have been spotted around different parts of the UK in recent months, including Hull and Perth, according to local media.

Signs saying “it’s OK to be white” were also put up in Bristol city centre last week.

Some of these posters bear the mark of Hundred-Hands, a group encouraging the spread of posters containing messages of white supremacy over social media.

Sam Murray, an Ipswich resident, claimed she removed 10 signs in the town herself.

“This does not have a place here,” she told The Independent.

“Ipswich is a nice town,” she said. “It is diverse and normally people just get on with their lives.”

Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council, called the white supremacist messages “deplorable”.

“This racist behaviour does not represent the people of Ipswich or our town,” she said.

“Council staff have been out over the weekend taking these stickers down.”

Police are investigating the posters and aware of similar reports in other areas of the UK, a Suffolk Police spokesperson said.

“It’s OK to be white” spread as a slogan across the US several years ago, and posters started appearing across American universities.

One of the few telling points in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission (2015) was his invention of a group called “Indigenous European – a direct response to the Indigènes de la République which claims to represent “colonial subjects” on French territory.  This is not the product of the jaded writer’s imagination. I Identity politics is the mainstay not just of campus politics but also, in Houellebecq’s twist, of an influential section of the European right. Génération Identitaire claims to stand for Europe against the “Islamisation of Europe” and the “migrant invasion”. Hope Not Hate writes that the British offshoot, Generation Identity, has this basis.

Martin Sellner, de facto spokesperson for the movement, talks of the need to preserve “ethno cultural identity” which extends back to an ancient European heritage.

Houellebecq illustrates how identity politics have moved on from the time when Naomi Klein could regret that “The need for greater diversity – the rallying call of my universality years – is now no only accepted by the culture industries. It is the mart of global capital. And identity politics, as they were practiced in the nineties, weren’t a threat, they were a gold mine.” Hollywood and the media aside, these issues have shifted into national populism, fall out from the EU Referendum, and the efforts of those who failed to oppose the Hard Right Brexit project to throw a smokescreen about Labour’s election disaster. (1)

Now we have people putting up stickers spreading the right-wing identity message. Those there say that at the Farage rally to celebrate Brexit last Friday some also repeated other ideas from this quarter, the fight against “cultural Marxism” held responsible for the other side, in the argument, liberal identity politics.

This is not just a fringe movement.

Prominent Spectator writer Douglas Murray’s Madness of Crowds (2019) is a sally against the “religion of social justice” prompted by “identity politics”. His The Strange Death of Europe (2017) is a lament about the suicide of Europe through mass immigration. The Spectator writes ends with a plea against those politicians who wish to “change our home into an utterly different place.” In short, Europe’s identity is under threat from others. Murray anglicised Éric Zemmour’s complaints against post-68 ‘cultural Marxist’ attacks on “(famille, nation, travail” with Renaud Camus’s fear of Europe’s inhabitants being replaced by newcomers, the Grand Remplacement. (2)

During Brexit we’ve often heard that the ancestral inhabitants of Britain are under threat from metropolitan, and cosmopolitan, elites. The late Roger Scruton observed in 2017 that, “The question of identity is bound up with that of sovereignty: who governs us, and from where?” Spiked runs a profitable ‘anti-woke’ troll farm promoting national populist, and pro=Brexit,  identity politics under the mask of saying, “Identity politics is really for rich white people“.   This ‘question’ has received a left response: the ‘real’ working class, who struck a blow against the capitalist EU in the Leave revolt, is under attack from liberal identity politics. Some with no doubt admirable aims speak of “the caricature of the white working class as racist and culturally conservative”.  In Haringey Labour it’s been debated that the working class needs its separate party group (Haringey: Labour members call for ‘working-class section’ in bid to regain power).


The identitarians, who have branches across Europe, including Britain, were founded in France. Struggling against ‘cultural Marxism’, affirming their culture and selves. Douglas Murray has talked about “desire to continue to feel yourself guilty..” for the legacy of Empire. This is an idea can be traced back to Pascal Bruckner’s Le Sanglot de l’homme blanc (1983). From disillusionment with Third Worldism, the belief that revolution would come from the global South, the French essayist has not stopped exploiting the theme. In La Tyrannie de la Pénitance he already observed, in 2006 Western “masochism”, the desire to apologise for the, very real, crimes of imperialism. Imprisoning people in their ethnic and racial identities, leads to individuals staking up a tally of resentments, not to free themselves as a collective group with universal right. Many will sympathise with Bruckner and his conclusion that “shame” should be replaced by a common search for freedom. But most people who read La Tyrannie would retain the diatribe against those protesting at past atrocities and injustices, and his mocking at the “agglomeration of tribes” standing against the common identity of Citizenship. (4)

There is a point at which identity politics on the left meets the far right and that point has been reached by the French Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR) The PIR’s spokesperson Houria Bouteldja offers a picture of the world in imitation of US Black Power. She melds attacks on ‘Whiteness’ (Blanchité) and laments for the decline in Arab virility. Bouteldja takes it upon herself to speak for the “nous”, the “Noirs”, the blacks to the ‘vous’, the ‘Blancs’, the Whites, and has some words of advice to the “vous”, the ‘Juifs’, the Jews. In the struggle for the voice of the indigenous she affirms a belief that commemorating the memory of the Shoah is, for whites, the “the bunker of abstract humanism”. Anti-Zionism is the “space for an historic confrontation between us and the whites”. She has been pictured with a placard reading “Zionists to the Gulag”. Bouteldja is fêted in Berkley and other ‘post-colonial’ academic quarters. She has been given space in the populist US left journal, Jacobin. A certain Richard Seymour has called her “admirable”. (5)

White Guilt.

Those now rushing to affirm working class identity should take note of that adventure. Those who wish to talk about a halt to White Guilt have more in common with their approach than they might wish. Both the side attacking some kind of inheritance of ‘whiteness’ and those trying to stand up for an indigenous, left-behind, working class share something with the right-wing ‘identitarians’. That is the immense weight they claim for the past. The enemy of human rights and the French Revolution,Edmund Burke, would be amused to find that political debate has become a squabble about the “Inheritance from our forefathers”, the ” partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”

This Blog prefers another side of the dispute altogether

Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.

Tom Paine.



  1. Page 115. No Logo, Naomi Klein. Flamingo. 2000.
  2. Page 320. The Strange Death of Europe. Immigration, Identity, Islam. Douglas Murray. Bloomsbury. 2017. Eric Zemmour, Le Suicide Français. Albin Michel. 2014. Le Grand Remplacement. Renaud Camus. 2011.
  3. Page 4. Where We Are. The State of Britain Now. Roger Scruton. Bloomsbury. 2017.
  4. Page 175. Murray. Op cit.
  5. Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Houria Bouteldja. La Fabrique. 2016.

The Brexit Left Hails, “the positive potential of a departure from the EU.”

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Daily Express 1 February 2020

Morning Star Sees “Positive Potential” in Brexit.

The Morning Star, wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-Op, this week hailed the “positive potential” of Brexit Day.


The Morning Star claims that Labour ‘handed control’ of the Brexit process ” to enemies of the working class in Westminster and Brussels” by inflicting “defeats on the government”.

In the New Era,

Now Brexit is happening, Labour urgently needs to do what it should have done in 2016, the essence of which was actually outlined by Corbyn in 2018: to recognise the positive potential of a departure from the EU.

These include expanding public ownership without worrying about the strictures of the Lisbon Treaty, or the “rights” of parasitical firms exploiting our public services for profit; to plan economic development sustainably, intervening to clean and green our economy without allowing transnational companies a “fair playing field” on which to ruin our planet; rewriting public procurement rules so contracts are allocated based on public interest and the welfare of workers and users.

For the moment, none of this is on the table. Brexit is an opportunity, because it removes certain treaties and regulations which are barriers to a socialist transformation of society.

But every silver-lined opportunity has a cloud,

But it is no more than an opportunity. It has not liberated anyone. Britain has elected a hard-right government which is already breaking promises to end austerity and will wage ruthless war on our communities and our workforces. It is a pro-imperialist government aligned as slavishly to an aggressive White House as was Tony Blair’s.

Some on the left will blame all this on Brexit. Actually it marks a continuation of the policies of the past four decades rather than a departure from them. Labour can keep mourning the EU, keep pleading for total alignment with all its anti-worker treaties and court rulings, keep reproaching people for failing to understand what we could lose rather than inspiring them with a vision of what we can win.

Or it can move on.

And agree with the pro-Leave Morning Star.

By accepting the Boris consensus on Brexit we can finally, by leaps and bounds, engage in the real struggle. That is,

 it accepts we have left and throws itself into the fight for a better future.

Another editorial blames faith in the EU for a downturn in workers’ struggles,

A misplaced faith in the EU to protect workers’ rights has seen energies misdirected into lobbying on behalf of the supranational organisation rather than building a movement formidable enough to defend and extend rights.

The EU has prevented Britain from defending the national working class.

In fact EU rules have acted to prevent governments keeping manufacturing and construction contracts in the country to protect jobs.

The same applies to workers’ rights. Trade unions in particular have been systematically stripped of their rights over the past 40 years.

The national working class can only look to national struggles to fight for its rights.

One welcome result of Britain’s departure should therefore be abandoning the myth — laughable given the momentous struggle against attacks on pension rights currently raging in France — that the labour movement can look to the EU for protection. Workers’ rights can only be secured by the working class itself.

Only working-class action can defend workers’ rights

You wonder why the labour movement bothers with any legislation or tries to get MPs elected.

Perhaps the Morning Star will extend the CPB’s call to Boycott Labour and abstain in last year’s European Elections to the next British General Election.

Counterfire, meanwhile has held its conference.

Corbynism, socialists and the resistance – Counterfire’s conference

The revolutionary socialist organisation resolved to back Rebecca Long-Bailey in the Labour leadership contest.

In prose which only they have the secret of the groupuscule declares,

Counterfire is a revolutionary socialist organisation that differs with those in Labour about whether the party can be won to socialism and whether socialism can be attained through Parliament. Nevertheless, we were at the forefront of defending and encouraging the Corbyn project, while being fraternally critical when neccessary (sic).

They instruct,

Socialists in Labour should vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey and Richard Burgon in the current elections, it will be a boost to the entire left if left-wing candidates win the leadership and deputy leadership of the Labour Party. But the loss of the election has strengthened the right and Corbyn’s resignation is likely to lead to retreats, particularly on foreign policy issues. Increasingly the focus for socialists ought to be outside electoral politics.

On Brexit they declare,

That Brexit still represents an opportunity for rupture with Europe’s capitalist institutions and only makes sense from the left. There is no better deal for capital than the one it currently has.

Conference resolves:

In the context of the end of Corbynism and the inevitable moving rightwards of the Labour Party, to continue making the arguments within the left that making a break with the institutions of the EU is a necessary step on the road to socialism.

Agreeing with their national comrades in the Morning Star Martin Hall writes on Brexit Day that  “future is up for grabs”, to catch it the left must,

Understand that a rupture with the current model of capitalism in order to rebalance capital and labour in favour of the latter can only be achieved outside the EU.

Leaving the EU: this is about what sort of society we want – and it isn’t Johnson’s

Try wishing away this:

Image may contain: one or more people and crowd

Blue Labour Makes Pitch for Progressive Patriotism to Lead Labour Values.

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Image result for Maurice glasman quotes

Blue Labour Opponents of EU Now Relishing Post-Brexit Opportunities.

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long Bailey’s call for progressive patriotism continues to echo throughout the labour movement.

Is this the thinker whose ideas can help rebuild a mainstream Labour Party?

Robert Philpot. Jewish Chronicle 

The time may have come for the ‘Blue Labour’ ideas of Ed Miliband’s former guru to help reshape Labour’s return to being a party for the working classes, writes Robert Philpot.

.. Lord Glasman is no rent-a-quote. Beneath the headline-grabbing comments was a serious philosophy. “Blue Labour”, as he termed it, urged the party to reconnect with its traditional supporters by embracing the values of “flag, faith and family”.

There may be few second acts in politics but last month’s election may give Lord Glasman a new opportunity to help shape how Labour rebuilds the “red wall” which Boris Johnson so effectively demolished.

Although she hails more from the party’s soft left, likely leadership contender Lisa Nandy is probably the most sympathetic of the potential candidates to Lord Glasman’s ideas. She has spoken at Blue Labour events and her close ally, Jon Cruddas, has been one of its strongest proponents.

Like Lord Glasman, the Wigan MP called for Labour to honour the result of the EU referendum and her belief that “place, identity, history and culture matter” is straight out of the Blue Labour playbook. So, too, her suggestion last month that, “There is a strong feeling in towns like mine that Labour stopped listening long ago and that we no longer have much understanding or care for the things that matter deeply to them or their families.”

Tireless campaigner against rootless Cosmopolitans, Paul Embery tweets.

In the Daily Mail a couple of days ago Peter Hitchens gives Blue Labour a puff.

..there is a tiny glimmer of hope, which I think civilised people should encourage.

It is called ‘Blue Labour’. At the moment it is only a few brave and thoughtful people, and it was pushed to one side in the Corbyn era of childish, clapped-out 1970s Leftism.

But if it succeeds it could not only be a good Opposition, it might even be a good government. People forget what Labour used to be.

Before it was taken over by Bloomsbury social liberals and Islington Eurocommunists in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a highly conservative, patriotic, working-class party.

Where political parties combine patriotism, a strong but just welfare state, good education, firm policing and tough defence, they tend to win elections.

If they can seize back control of the People’s Party, I’d support them against the Pinko Tories.

You can read more about them on the Brexit Party supporting Spiked site.

‘Globalisation has made our lives empty’

Maurice Glasman talks to Brendan O’Neill about Brexit, Blue Labour and the demonisation of the working class.

There are many critiques of Blue Labour, including on this Blog.

A central argument is that it is an adaption to national populism.

Now, with the failure of left populism, this looks an enticing prospect for some, and not just overt right-wingers like Hitchens.

Before somebody proposes “articulating” their ideas into Labour’s mix, serious issues need to be looked at.

One of the most recent to offer an account of them is this excellent article in the Political Quarterly (which we have referred to before).


Since the Brexit vote, the followers of Blue Labour – an advocacy group associated with the Labour Party that promotes conservative ideas – have accepted much of the far right’s analysis. Advanced by the likes of Paul Embery and Adrian Pabst, they have adopted the far rights’ language and terminology at an alarming rate.

Importantly, followers of Blue Labour have also bought into a binary divide: the choice is either neoliberal hyper‐globalisation or a patriotic nationalism. The possibility of any different types of globalisation has been denied.


Critique of Blue Labour: Towards a renewed social democratic alliance

Labour’s successes in 1945, 1964 and 1997 came through linking together the labour movement, the public sector and middle class intellectuals. Alliances will not necessarily return in the ‘old’ form, but they need to be constructed. The first step is to articulate alternative models of globalisation.

Progressives need an economic policy promoting a new relationship with nature and a thorough green industrial strategy that addresses the economic and social concerns of those who globalisation has passed by.

Progressives should also seek to create a sense of interconnectedness. Blue Labourites find it hard to conceive that a person can approve of European integration and yet still retain a national and local identity. The modern world is interconnected and overlaps. For instance, the wings for an Airbus are made in North Wales and Bristol, but the aircraft as a whole is put together in Toulouse.

To sum up, as the Green movement expresses it, ‘think global, act local’. There is no gulf between the two.



Progressive Patriotic Socialists Flock to George Galloway’s New Workers’ Party of Britain.

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Labour Leadership Hopefuls Beware: Galloway Addresses Masses Backing Workers’ Party of Britain.


The Workers Party positively embraces Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Britain needs to be free of the EU regulations that would restrict our fiscal and monetary policy and prevent Britain from taking public ownership of key utilities and transport infrastructure.

More on Birmingham event.

In the morning George will set out his vision for the Workers Party and discuss the historical necessity of building an alternative workers political party to the discredited and treacherous Labour party and its Blairite leadership. As always, the audience will be encouraged to participate and George will chair contributions from the floor until lunchtime.

In the afternoon the Workers Party will turn its attention to a British institution we all hold dear, the NHS. Britain’s best known communist vascular surgeon Dr Ranjeet Brar (@Rango1917) will be joined by the NHS campaigner and inspiration behind the films “Sell-Off” and “The Great NHS Heist” Dr Bob Gil (@drbobgill). These two doctors will chart the path which led to the privatisation of the NHS and what must be done to turn things around. Contributions from the floor will be positively encouraged.

To close out the day George Galloway will give a closing speech and there will be time over lunch and at the end to meet new friends and talk politics!


The Spanking New Workers’ Party will be Leading Protests Against US Threats to Iran.

“The party was founded in December 2019, by the former Labour and Respect Party Member of Parliament George Galloway, following the 2019 United Kingdom general election.[1]

The Workers Party is affiliated with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) with its vice chair Joti Brar, also serving as deputy leader of the newly founded party.[2]

Wikipedia entry – to be expanded soon!

Written by Andrew Coates

January 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm

Boris Border Clampdown Seals National Populist Tory Drift as Pro-Brexit Left Founders.

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Image result for regis debray eloge des frontiers

In Praise of Borders, and…..European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain?

One of the divisions opened up by Brexit on the British left has been between the internationalists and those who imagined that leaving the European Union would pave the way for a ‘People’s Brexit’.

Sometimes this has been a straightward affair, those supporting ‘Lexit’, a ‘left Brexit’ want to create a version of the 1970s Alternative Economic Strategy that relies on an autonomous economy under social ownership and unshared national sovereignty.

Other times groups add freedom from the Nato imperialist war machine. They pontificate, ” Rather the wars, interventions and occupations of the past nearly two decades have helped to fuel terror and make it a more frequent occurrence in countries like Britain.” (Lindsey German. Counterfire today).

Recently German has also been concerned with the views of Leave voters,

…any report of canvassing in some of these areas tells a story of bitter disillusionment among Leave voters, all too often combined with the belief that some traditional Labour voters will switch to the Tories.

She continued, saying that it’s part of “the fallout from the 2016 referendum. These areas tended to vote Leave at least partly in protest at decline, and against the perception of being ignored and taken for granted by politicians.”

The Counterfire/Stop the War leader lays the blame on Remain supporters,

..the poll underlines the damage Labour Remainers have done with their relentless drive towards ignoring the vote of three years ago in favour of an new referendum in which they would want to back Remain. Jeremy Corbyn has been vilified for sitting on the fence, being neutral and so on, but his stance has been a response to precisely the feeling in the Leave areas. What has happened in this election is simply that Labour has found it much much harder to win back Leave voters than Remain voters.

Even some people who voted Remain are furious that Labour is ignoring the referendum result – and certainly that has been my impression in talking to people from different parts of the country.

Who knew: 52% of the population matter? – election briefing 29 November

Like others German does not look into the issues fuelling this fury, or what exactly this 52% is made up of, HIgh Tories to High Stalinists included.

Perhaps migration, perhaps ultra-strict border controls may be things that “matter” to them?

Polls indicate that’;taking back control’ means frontier controls above all.

Some of us have certainly not ignored this, we have argued against the Brexit concentrated hatred, and Brexit itself, lock stock and barrel.

It’s hard to deny this, and I too have been “talking to people”.

No doubt we are guilty of standing up for internationalism

Yet I have not heard anybody call for a People’s Brexit either…

The impression is widespread that the supporters for Brexit on the left have legitimsied the right-wing drift of some voters. That is that there is on result of German and friends’ activities. It is Lexit Cover for National Populism.

One thing that’s been striking over the last few years is the growth, across Europe, of those promoting nationalism, in a sovereigntist guise, on the left.

The ‘globalists’, the Blairite cosmopolitan elite, the Clinton Global Initiative,  ably described in Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas (2018), the philanthropists claiming to make the world a better place, the principal enemy today?

It’s not hard to believe that the Ford Foundation, TED talks and  MarketWorld  are a serious obstacle.

But Giridharadas also notes towards the end of his book the xenophobia racism of the Trump electorate, and one can extend this to one of the reasons for the Brexit vote – one that the Lexiters ignore, or try divert attention away from by whataboutery on EU migration policy – never mentioning the German decision to admit around 890,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

New Left Review, however, if not as directly as its promotion of the likes of anti ‘Jewish elite’ writer Norman Finkelstein, has soft spot for those prepared to defend borders. The left-wing critic of ‘neoliberal globalisation‘ and now national populist advocate of “a strengthening of national borders and immigration controlsWolfgang Streeck, is a leading contributor. He is a member of the Red-Brown Full Brexit front that brings together Brexit Party supporters and the ‘left’.

Régis Debray may not have got the book pictured into its pages, but his musings  have appeared, if only in extract from Civilisation. Comment nous sommes devenus américaines. 

It is full of self-pitying nationalism that marks out this current of thought.

Perhaps I am over-attached to this bizarre country where you can recite a poem in a meeting, where not everyone considers capitalism as the final stage of human history, where we do not fear dreaming of having an independent foreign policy, and where the writer has a role they do not have elsewhere. This particularity is fading away. I do not take any joy in this, but no one will stop me in my own corner from continuing to write in French.

Macron, or the coronation of America: A conversation with Régis Debray

It has been up to a New Left Review founding figure, Tom Nairn, to wallow fully in the Debray vision of the world.

Frontiers: a re-evaluation Tom Nairn.

Frontiers have become awfully unfashionable. The ideology of “globalisation” responds with its sternest frown: historical relics, left-overs from the age of competing nationalisms, they have  had their day and should be ignored, if not put down. Régis Debray is characteristically scathing about all this in his recent polemic Éloge des Frontières (Gallimard, Paris 2010). In the concluding chapter of this ‘Praise for Frontiers’ he points out that globaloney has as its fatal culmination what one might call ‘All-the-Sameism’ – to which a proper answer can only be “the right to frontiers”, or (more strongly) the duty of maintaining them, and where necessary creating new ones. Not ‘walls’ but (as Scots like to say) borders, gateways to and from differing cultures and outlooks.

Things have changed.

The left is no longer confronted, as the principal enemy, by globalists, by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

We live in the age, where we are confronted  as argued, by Justine Lacroix, with national populism,  and national neoliberalism (“Mais nous sommes ­confrontés à Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Orban ou, en Pologne, à Droit et justice, sans même parler de la Russie et de la Chine).

Nairn’s borders are being reinforced…..

And now, with Boris Johnson and Brexit Project, Domnic Cummins and all.

European citizens will be required to gain US-style pre-approval to enter Britain after Brexit in a fresh border clampdown to be unveiled by the Conservatives today.

In a move to shift the election debate to immigration the Tories will outline plans to make all visitors to Britain receive additional security clearance before they travel.

There is expected to be a charge for the checks, similar to the American Esta system. This requires visitors to gain clearance to enter the country three days before their arrival or be turned back at the airport.

The European Union is expected to introduce a similar scheme in 2021, meaning that after Brexit all travellers between Britain and Europe will face additional scrutiny and costs.

The Times.

Politics Home.

Under a raft of promises the party claims will improve border security if it wins the election, the Tories said a new visa waiver scheme called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would be brought in for EU citizens wanting to travel to the UK.

Under current EU free movement rules, travellers from the bloc only need an ID card to gain entry.

But the new regime will see them asked to bring passports and fill in an online form before travelling, a move the Conservatives said would allow officials to “to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK”.

The Tories are also pledging to gather more data on goods being brought into the UK in a bid to clamp down on smuggling – a move the party claims could save £5bn a year in lost taxes.

They are also promising to bring in new immigration regulations with “far broader powers” for the Home Secretary to stop EU foreign nationals with serious convictions from entering the UK.

Unveiling the plans, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “When people voted to leave in 2016 they were voting to take back control of our borders.

“After Brexit we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 2, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Authoritarian Populism: Tories Threaten Assessment of “Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence” after Climate Debate.

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Image result for tub of lard have i got news for you"

Right Honourable Tub of Lard MP Set Dangerous Provocative, Partisan  Precedent for Channel Four’s Latest Escapade. 

Boris Johnson Is Threatening To Review Channel 4’s Broadcasting Licence After They Replaced Him With An Ice Sculpture At Thursday’s Debate

A Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.

The inflammatory move came after Channel 4 said it would empty-chair the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at its climate change leaders’ debate, after the two leaders declined to take part.

The Huff Post repeats this story,

A Conservative source later told BuzzFeed News that if the party wins the coming election it will reassess Channel 4’s public service broadcasting licence.

“If we are re-elected, we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations,” the source said.

“Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

The threat should not be taken lightly.

Attacks on press freedom in democracies

In some of the most influential democracies in the world, large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence. Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information. The goal is to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.

The problem has arisen in tandem with right-wing populism, which has undermined basic freedoms in many democratic countries. Populist leaders present themselves as the defenders of an aggrieved majority against liberal elites and ethnic minorities whose loyalties they question, and argue that the interests of the nation—as they define it—should override democratic principles like press freedom, transparency, and open debate.

In perhaps the most concerning development of recent years, press freedom has come under unusual pressure in the United States, the world’s leading democratic power. Although key news organizations remain strong and continue to produce vigorous reporting on those in office, President Donald Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in the mainstream media. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests. The US constitution provides robust protections against such actions, but President Trump’s public stance on press freedom has had a tangible impact on the global landscape. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.

Freedom and the Media:A Downward Spiral

By Sarah Repucci, Senior Director for Research and Analysis

Freedom House.



How does this fit in with the wider Tory strategy.

There are efforts to normalise the Conservatives’ approach:

A better way of looking at them is in terms of British political history and the rise of Thatcher’s authoritarian populism.

Stuart Hall argued in The Great Moving Right Show (1978) that ‘Thatcherism’ was able to use the “language of ‘the people’, unified behind a reforming drive to turn the turn the tide of ‘creeping collectivism, banish Keynesian illusions from the state apparatus and renovate the power bloc…” It “brings into existence a new ‘historic bloc’ between certain sections of the dominant and dominated classes.” It was a “rich mix”, combining long-standing ‘organic’ Tory themes, “nation, family, duty, authority, standards, and traditionalism “with” a revived neoliberalism – self-interest, competitive individualism anti-statism.”

Today we have the xenophobia of people like key adviser Dominic Cummings warning about millions of foreign voters thwarting Brexit if Labour wins power. There is the (still unstable) attempt to create a bloc between footloose capital and others sectors who will benefit from alignment with Trump in a nationalist use of political power for economic benefit, and those fightended by a ‘globalised’ world. This, as described by Paul Mason, is a new form of neoliberalism, national neoliberalism (Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being. 2019)

The Tory and Brexit Party vision of democracy is not as form of society built on by popular rights, but rule by plebiscites and the personification of the Nation State by one Party. The abstraction of Sovereignty is  a puppet in the lap of Ventriloquists, Johnson and Farage.

The ‘popular basis’ of the present Moving Right Show is a “rich mix” of loathing for Metropolitan ‘elites’, rootless cosmopolitans,  decaying Labourist and old Tory nostalgia for family, flag and patriotism, and, old fashioned racism. Nostalgic for La terre et les Morts, both the Conservatives and the Brexit Party are prepared to control freedom of movement, to open and close migration as it suits their economic free-market project.

As for their racism, it is pitiful that The Times (cited above)publishes Collins’ article which reduces this deep xenophobia and hatred of outsiders in these terms,

The racism that exists in the Tory ranks is, according to most witnesses, generational and casual. That does not mean it does not matter — being on the receiving end of racism is never casual. It does, though, mean that the Muslim question will not greatly occupy the thoughts of the average Tory member. Very few of them will have a developed theory about how the madrassas are cultivating a religious cavalry to man the global caliphate. It’s just not a big deal to them. It is a small deal on which some of them hold stereotypically bigoted views.

The pro-Brexit camp are the dominated by nationalists, the majority cultural  nationalists, some blood and soil. The Tory wing, and more explicitly the Brexit Party wing, are motivated by a fear of immigration  and globalist ‘elites’. Their views on Muslims and Jewish people may well be prejudiced, but that is not the central nationalist issue.

In this atmosphere, as a symbol of cosmopolitan leftism Channel Four is clearly in their sights….



L’Histoire refoulée. La Rocque, les Croix de feu, et le fascisme français. Sous la direction de Zeev Sternhell. Review: Fascisme à la française?

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L’Histoire refoulée. La Rocque, les Croix de feu, et le fascisme français. Sous la direction de Zeev Sternhell. Les Éditions du Cerf.

Zeev Sternhell is a reference point amongst historians of Fascism. L’Histoire refoulée focuses on the Croix de Feu (CDF, a movement, originally largely of Great War veterans, led by Colonel François de la Rocque. In 1936, after anti-parliamentary street violence led to the dissolution of the “leagues”, they became the Parti sociale français (PSF) with membership of around three quarters of a million. Opinion has been divided about how far La Rocque’s troops were properly fascist, with some dismissing them as nationalist “boy scouts”. The contributions by Sternhell, “Anglo-Saxons” Caroline Campbell, Kevin Passmore and Chris Milligan with Laurent Kestel and Didier Leschi and Samuel Kalman aim to show that during the 1930s important parts of French society were tempted by “les aventures fascists” and that the CDF/PSF was not a “mass party of the right” but infected with fascist ideas.

Didier Leschi and Lauren Kestel refer to Michel Dobry’s claim that there is a consensus that France was “immune” and “allergic” to Fascism (Le mythe de lallergie française au fascisme. 2003). In this view, taken up anew by Sternhell the minimising of the CDF/PSF is a case study in how a 1930s a fascistic movement is downplayed. Present targets include Michel Winock, who questioned this classification, noting that, apart from its backward looking debts to 19th century the Caesarism of Boulangism, has said in his own works, that the “term fascism cannot be applied to all movements supportive of right-leaning authoritarianism, the so-called national right, or the far-right” and that the “Croix-de-Feu and the PSF cannot be called a fascist party unless, of course, we disregard semantic precision altogether.(1)

“Refoulée”, in psychological terms, is to repress, to push back into oneself, to refuse to acknowledge an impulse. The intention of L’Histoire refoulée is to bring out from this collective subconscious the existence of French fascism as an independent political force in the 1930s. It equally contributed to the National Revolution of the Vichy regime and the Collaboration. The importance of this task is highlighted, the authors argue, by the resurgence of a xenophobic extreme right that has reinvented a French nationalist tradition without fully recognising its debts to fascism. .

General readers, many of whom are familiar with the historian of Vichy, Robert O Paxton (La France de Vichy. 1973,  in English, Vichy France : Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944) , will be surprised to learn that the domestic responsibility for the Pétain regime continues to be ignored. Not long ago the polemical historian Éric Zemmour violently attacked the anti-Vichy ‘doxa’ (established opinion), also known as the « révolution paxtonienne », led by “notre bon maître”, the American (nationality underlined) in the best-selling Le Suicide français (2014). The far-right writer became instantly notorious for defending the care shown by Vichy towards Jews of French nationality. His claim that De Gaulle was a child of both the far right and left Catholic patriotism, “un enfant de Maurras et de Péguy” could also be said to be attempt to blur the lines between fascism and French republicanism. L’Histoire consigns Zemmour to a footnote of the Leschi and Kestel Introduction – on his more recent Destin Français (2018).

The Revolutionary Right.

In La Droite Révolutionnaire, (First Edition, 1978) Sternhell proposed that late 19th century and pre-Great War France was the cradle of fascist ideology. France was, in Sternhell’s eyes, an ideal field for studying pre-fascism, and, full blown, “neither left nor right” fascist thought. This developed earliest in the country with “exceptional intellectual quality. Ni droite ni gauche: l’idéologie fasciste en France (First Edition, 1983), surveyed anti-parliamentarian nationalism (the ‘ligues’), “planiste” sections of French social democracy (Marcel Déat), the Monarchist and anti-Semite Action française, the mass parties of the later 1930s, the Parti Social français (PSF), the Parti Populaire français (PPF) of the renegade Communist Jacques Doriot, and a mixed bag of admirers of National Socialism and Mussolini. This indicated that fascism was a synthesis of socialist ideas and nationalism. An earlier work had marked out in the literary and polemical figure of the nationalist Maurice Barrès and his appeal to La terre et les Morts, the homeland heritage and the living memory of the dead. (Maurice Barrès et le nationalisme français. 1972). In the years preceding the Second World War these movements drew together calls to “workers of all classes” against banking “hyper” capitalism, drew on the romance of the nation, and opposition to the liberalism of the Enlightenment and the elites of the Third Republic. (1)

Culturally acute, plunging straight through the confusion reigning in European politics of the 1930s, Sternhell had an immediate and lasting appeal. It did not take long for his thesis to come under attack. The writer of a landmark study of George Sorel (L’illusion du politique.1984) Shlomo Sand was one of the first off the mark. Ni droite ni gauche was the “most completely a-historical than one can possibly imagine. The author never puts things in their context. He gives fascism such a vague definition that you can stick onto it anything whatsoever.” Sand goes into some detail on the faults behind this conception. His summary could equally stand for other critics. In L’illusion du politique the Cercle Proudhon, a key ‘red-brown’ movement for Sternhell in which extreme-right monarchists met syndicalists inspired by Sorels’ revolutionary anti-parliamentarism, was put into its real, marginal, barely noticed, context. Sorel ended his days an enthusiast for the Bolshevik Revolution, not nationalism. (2)

The meat of the argument against Sternhell is that, as a field of observation, France, like Great Britain, was marked by victory in the Great War, and did not know the crisis of regime that afflicted Germany. This has implications for any study of movements born amongst those who fought in the conflict. The Croix de feu, which had nobody with experience of anything resembling the far-right civil war fighters of the German Freikorps nor, as many argue, did its vaunted “dispos” (men ready for action), who wore no uniform but the occasional Trilby hat, resemble anything like the Sturmabteilung (SA). France neither knew the kind of turmoil and use of violence against the left that proceeded Mussolini’s power grab. Threatening a coup, but never united enough with the other major forces of the far right like the Parti Populaire français (PPF) to carry one out, was not the same carrying one out.

The major difficulty is that a broad sweep of far-right ideas, focused on intellectuals in countries where they did not control the state, ignores what for many historians is the crucial aspect of fascism and Nazism. They were  doctrines of regimes with totalitarian power.

Settling Accounts.

Many readers of L’Histoire refoulée will have these thoughts in mind as they open its pages. Sternhell pursues the ideological well-springs of fascism, and the ideological confusion of the 1930s, which drew some parts of the left towards the extreme right. ”. At the end of the 19th century France saw two traditions battle it out, the tradition of the Enlightenment faced a “tradition organiciste, antirationaliste, historiciste, nationaliste, antisémite, la tradition de la terre et les morts très proche de la tradition völkish en Allemagne.” (Page 40 – 50) This, he asserts, was the “motor” of Vicky’s National Revolution. The intellectuals prepared people’s minds; it was up to mass movements and the Disaster of the War, to give them life. The PSF’s call for Travail, Famille, Partie, became the motto of Vichy.

Sternhell does not always stay on this abstract plane. He peppers his contributions with revelatory attacks on liberals and moderate left wingers, like the ‘organic intellectual’ of the Radical Party Alain (Émile-Auguste Chartier), now known to have written anti-Jewish and pro-German comments in his war-time notebooks, Bertrand de Jouvenel (who launched a successful libel case against Sternhell in the 1980s for suggesting that he had been pro-Hitler), Maurice Duverger, the political scientist, dammed for his favourable writing for the Vichy government. His principal target is the already cited Michel Winock, a specialist in the same area, and author of the indispensable history of the journal Esprit (Esprit, des intellectuels dans la cité 1930 – 1950). 1996). Once a supporter of Sternhell’s early work he is damned not only for refusing to accept that groups like Les Croix de feu were full-blown fascist but also for his tenderness towards the Director of Esprit, Emmanuel Mounier. In a contemptible attack Sternhell lets it suggested that the left Christian personalist and anti-totalitarian was an admirer of Hitler for brief favourable comments on the invasion of the Soviet Union. (Page 83)

The serious nature of these claims is obscured by their anecdotal presentation, which recalls Bernard-Henri Lévy’s catch-all accusations of fascism in L’idéologie française (1981) rather than thorough historical research. This aspect of L’Histoire refoulée has led some to suggest that the book is intended to settle old scores (this review barely scratches the surface) rather than offer new insights into the history of French fascism. The final chapter, Réponse à Michel Winock, which drags up grievances going back decades, does not diminish this impression. (4)

Sternhell should not overshadow L’Histoire refoulée. Laurent Kestrel tackles the issue of the PSF “republican” claims, La Rocque’s prejudices and dislike of freemasons, the presence of anti-Semitism in the movement, and compares it to Doriot’s PPF. Kevin Passmore compares relations with the German regime, always difficult given deep-rooted French nationalist traditions of Germanophobia, and Italy. He notes that he disappointed those who encouraged him to attempt a coup d’État. (Page 211). Carline Campbell explores both the way La Rocque defended the higher civilisation of France and melded it with racial ideas. Perhaps her most interesting pages develop research into the social basis of the CDF/PSF, its policies, and the way it became an astonishing large movement. Chris Millington reminds us of the violence between left and right in 1930s French politics, culminating in the Limoge shootings of 1935.

The quality of these, and other contributions, brings us back to the initial questions. Is this part of French history willingly forgotten? Is this because to talk about La Roque, the most “republican” of the 1930s far right, would be to tarnish the idea that France was “immune” to fascism? This is not just a conceptual dispute about the nature of fascism and French history. Readers of Michel Winock will know that far from denying the long-standing existence of a powerful extreme right in the Hexagon he is one of the foremost historians and opponents of “la tradition contre-révolutionnaire” and its present day “avatars” “national-populisme”. If there is one thing about L’Histoire refoulée that rankles it is an implication that suggests otherwise. (5)


  1. Revisiting French fascism, La Rocque and the Croix de Feu. Michel Winock Vingtième Siècle. Revue dhistoire. 2006/2 (No 90)
  2. Page 405. La Droite Révolutionnaire. Zeev Sternhell. Edition de Seuil 1978.
  3. Written in 1983 and cited Page 144. La Fin de l‘intellectuel français? Shlomo Sand La Découverte. 2016.
  4. Une guerre de trente ans  Sonia Combe En attendant Nadeau. Notably on, in her view, the “l’équipe Serge Berstein-Jean-Noël Jeanneney-Michel Winock qui continuait à alimenter le mythe français déconstruit par Sternhell. “
  5. Page 297. Conclusion.Histoire de l’extrême droite en France. Sous La Direction de Michel Winock. Editions du Seuil. 2015 (New Edition) 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm