Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Owen Jones

New Left Review, Oliver Eagleton attacks Owen Jones, “tough action on antisemitism is a proxy for antisocialism…”

with 8 comments


A New Generation of Struldbrugg Socialists.

As New Left Review (NLR)  enters its 61st year, while still publishing valuable articles, the political content has become dominated by Struldbrugg socialism. These long-living inhabitants of the  land of Luggnagg, Jonathan Swift discovered in Gulliver’s Travels, show not  not only all the “follies and infirmities” of other elderly people , but they are also extra-opinionated.

NLR founding figure, Perry Anderson, writes in his Parish journal, the London Review of Books this week, “The letters objecting to my account of the European Union, offer a range of criticisms, none without an intelligible rationale.”. (Vol 43. No5) The Struldbruggs are supporters of national sovereignty, or sovereigntists, but they tolerate imports, like a hefty shaft of rare and curious words, to remind us of our Bildungslücke.

The peevish, the morose, the covetous,, and the vanity of those those claim to challenge power from their laptops,  are hallmarks of those who wrote, as present Editor Susan Watkins did in 2016, welcoming the vote to leave the European Union,”  Critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it, against which the entire global establishment—Obama to Abe, Merkel to Modi, Juncker to Xi—has inveighed.” Anderson indeed repeated this happy phrase in 2020,’critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks …” (Ukania Perpetua. NLR Second Series. 125).

Enter a new voice: Oliver Eagleton, whose work has appeared in Jacobin, The Article, Novara and openDemocracy, as well as Counterfire and Verso.

For the latter he wrote this hatchet job, which has disappeared from the archives:


Now there is this:



A review of Owen JonesThis Land: The Story of a Movement

This is not really a review of Jones’ book, one written by somebody, Owen Jones, with serious experience and respect in the broad labour movement. It is a polemic against something Eagleton calls “McDonnellism”, against left internationalists who stood against Brexit, and  a  pretty good effort at aping his  Struldbrugg  elders.

The first thing that strikes the reader is that Eagleton follows the NLR line that Labour should not have opposed Brexit. He fails to mention that his journal actively backed the vote to Leave, with Editorial Board member Tariq Ali appearing on public platforms to cast the ballot on the same side as the European Reform Group, the Tory hard right, and Nigel Farage. As he himself wrote in 2020, “Labour will never be the Party of Remain. It’s time it stopped trying.”

Eagleton focuses on the movement for a second referendum, widely backed by the Labour grassroots, and the force behind million strong marches protesting against Brexit.

While autopsies of Corbynism invariably identify the Brexit polarization as a fatal turning-point, This Land is unique in detailing how Corbyn’s ambiguous position was partially responsible for creating that chasm in the first place. His protracted indecision generated a political vacuum that enabled the arch-centrist Remain movement to grow throughout 2018, winning over previously sceptical figures like Starmer and McDonnell.


McDonnell thus formed a second referendum pressure group inside the shadow cabinet, swaying the perennially indecisive Corbyn after purging the Leave faction from his office. Jones acknowledges the disastrous electoral fallout of this policy, but he concludes that ‘Labour had no real choice’. ‘Whatever decisions the party made’, he writes, ‘it would not have ended well’.

In this ‘review’ the idea that opposition to national neoliberalism, and to the hard right fantasy of the ‘anglosphere’ was behind this turn occurs not once.

Less interested in a political analysis of why Labour failed in 2019  – the obvious point being that Corbyn did not connect with the electorate, that there was gulf between the enthusiasm of the Corbynistas and the dislike of the majority of voters – Eagleton spares no words against Owen Jones, “a self-described ‘participant-observer’ in the Corbyn experiment”, marked by “instinctual conformism”, and takes a few side swipes at other highly regarded Labour people, including “Clive Lewis, the chest-thumpingly pro-nato Afghan war veteran..”

This paragraph, discovered in the thickets of ire. follows the main thrust of the book, “less a history of Corbynism than a prolonged apologia for McDonnellism.” One that refuses to challenge the idea that there was a crisis in the Party about antisemitism, and, Eagleton underlines, “. Alongside such incoherent formulations is a summary of Israeli history which ‘could have been written by Shimon Peres’, as one critic has remarked. ” Or that, “‘tough action on antisemitism’ is a proxy for antisocialism…”

Over it all there is the dark figure of John McDonnell….

Just as This Land’s timeline is manipulated to indict Milne… , “The same double-standard is evident in Jones’s disinclination to criticize his political mentor. In order to sustain the representation of Milne as obtuse Stalinist and McDonnell as master strategist, the latter’s political misjudgements must either be neglected or downplayed. Like Jones himself, McDonnell warned against Corbyn’s leadership bid; opposed the leader’s anti-imperialist agenda (including his widely popular response to the Manchester bombings); advocated ihra; cosied up to New Labour leftovers like Alastair Campbell; and pushed the party towards Remain out of an irrational fear of Change uk. A serious account of Corbynism would recognize the damaging effect of these climbdowns. “

For Eagleton, “Starmerism is the end-point of McDonnellism, the logical result of Jones’s prescriptions. ”

The Struldbruggs nod, and nod and nod.

Not any of them have a clue about getting the left into power in this country.





We hear on good authority that the person Oliver Eagleton attacks in this review  has also written a reply….




Chris Williamson’s New Best Friend, Tony Greenstein, and Nemesis, Owen Jones.

with 6 comments



“Williamson became a topic that caused mounting anger and frustration within the leadership, including Corbyn who according to senior aides, privately called him an idiot and wished he’d shut his fucking mouth. (Page 253. This Land.)

Many people have reviewed Owen Jones’ This Land, The Story of a Movement (2020). It is a participant’s account of the Corbyn moment,  a “political revolution”  in the Labour Party. It begins with an account of left wing protests in the new millenium, the Stop the War marches in 2003, and continues up to (amongst others) the People’s Assembly Against Austerity formed in 2013. The author by this a national columnist, was prepared to offer some selfless support for this and other campaigns, touring the county to speak in towns and cities. Work, as a Parliamentary Researcher for John McDonnell in 2005, and, for some time, membership of the Labour Representation Committee reinforces the depth of his commitment to the left. That is, before Corbyn’s win the Labour internal elections.

From Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the 2015 leadership contest, an honourable score in the 2017 national ballot, to crushing electoral defeat in 2020, Jones offers a weighted series of judgements within a compelling set of first hand reports on the day-to-day working and strategies of the Labour leadership, and their internal battles. It is an effort to present neither a story of Corbyn as the leader of a “crazed political cult” doomed to fail from the word go,  or a noble effort wrecked by internal sabotage and the eternal right-wing smear campaign against socialism. It remains an important record.


Reception has often focused on ‘Corbyn’s Court’. “This is Seumas Milne, he does our thinking for us” the Labour chief would sometimes introduce him.  After some less than faint praise for the Party’s Communications Director, This Land talks at length of how Milne was “sadly lacking”, “evasiveness”. turning up at meeting only to “waltz in and out”, lack of professionalism, and a fair amount more. Other figures appear in This Land. Andrew Murray,  Karie Murphy, Len McClusky, with varying degrees of respect and criticism. Jones’ ally Andrew Fisher, come across as a thoroughly decent person, with a real political ‘nose’ which is not the case for everybody.

Its pages are worth reading now, with some distance.

But this is not another review of last year’s political books.

This Blog thinks simply that  Owen Jones is a good thing. He is a columnist, a commentator. He does the ground work. He offers analysis. You can disagree.  But the last thing left wing politics needs is an echo chamber.

So one one let readers gauge if History will be kinder “to a “reluctant leader” with a deep-rooted revulsion of injustice” who “withstood a campaign of vilification that would have broken many”. Or that his failures included that, used to agreement amongst those on his section of the left he was left struggling “with difficult conservations with those he disagreed with” and that his stubbornness contributed to a “bunker mentality” of his inner circle. Some may agree that it was a tragedy that John McDonnell, “serious on winning the prize” was not in charge, and  “Labour’s lost leader”

But I digress…..

Chris Williamson, never one to forget a grudge, has been nursing one against Jones. Apart from the head quote there is another,

If those described as ‘cranks’ had a King, it was Chris Williamson. As leader of Derby City Council he implemented  pro-privatisation schemes, the Private Finance initiative, and formed an alliance with the Conservatives in order to govern. ….2010, backed Ed Miliband ..I met him at the time, He was a middle of the road ‘soft left’ MP who would tweet countdowns about how many days remained until a Miliband government would usher in ‘responsible capitalism’. Williamson supported the war on Libya Western airstrikes on Iraq in 2014, and refused to vote against Conservative workfare programmes in 2013……But when he lost his seat in 2015 Williamson re-invented himself a revolutionary, his new political outlook accompanied by a Twitter profile picture of Fidel Castro accompanied by Nelson Mandela,” (Pages 251 – 2)

And it gets hotter,

“But is was Williamson’s role in the antisemitism crisis that proved toxic” .

Jones lists many incidents, the defence of any Labour member accused of anti-semitism, notably Jackie Walker, re-tweeting dubious figures, and, as people who follow this Blog and others know full well, Williamson’s “inflammatory comments”. This Land claims that Karie Murphy  (Executive Director of the Labour Party’s Leader’s Office, LOTO) acted a  “one-woman” Chris Williamson defence league. This does not reflect well on her judgement. Or indeed on those on the left who rallied behind him.

The saga continues.

It’s the Alternative Voice: the Monster Raving Greenstein Party take on This Land.


Review of Owen Jones ‘This Land’ – a liberal apologist for Israeli Apartheid who helped bring the Corbyn Project down


I have devoted a whole blog to ‘The AntiSemitism Crisis’ in Owen Jones book, because he played a key role in supporting a campaign whose sole purpose was removing Corbyn.

In years to come, the moral panic over ‘anti-Semitism’ which helped destroy the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party, will come to be seen for what it was. Utterly contrived and confected.

It is not hard to see why Williamson likes this torrent of a rant,

Chris Williamson [251-3]

If the ‘cranks’ had a king according to Jones, it was the socialist Labour MP Chris Williamson. There follows what can only be described as litany of lies. This is ‘journalism’ according to Jones.

Chris’s crimes included meeting Miko Peled, son of an Israeli General and hiring a House of Commons room to show Jackie Walker’ film WitchhuntThe film was an expose of the fake anti-Semitism campaign. The Zionists did not like it and when it was scheduled to be shown at the Labour Conference in 2018 someone phoned a bomb threat to the place where it showing. Jones has nothing to say about these Zionist attacks on free speech.

Let those who plan to align with Williamson, and his “grassroots, anti-imperialist working class movement” Resist, such as the Socialist Party and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) reflect on what kind of figure this man is..


Here’s some more of Williamson’s allies:




Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Kerry-Anne Mendoza, “¡No pasarán!” alt-left doesn’t need “liberal commentators policing our resistance to Fascism”.

with 11 comments



 ¡No pasarán! to “Bullshit Liberal Commentators Policing Our Resistance to Fascism”.

Time was when the ‘new media’ Barons and Baronesses of the ‘alt-left’ media in the UK were talk of the day.

In fact, no time at all, since this appeared  in 2017,.

The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media

The 2017 general election is driving record traffic to the loose collection of alt-left British outlets that are positioning themselves as Corbyn’s outriders, jumping on stories without much of the nuance of outlets that remain rooted in mainstream reporting traditions.

Jim Waterson continued,

The Canary – the doyen of the alt-left media outlets – first launched in late 2015 it was dubbed “the left-wing Daily Mail” by virtue of being written in a way that is accessible to everyone. 

Phil had a perceptive overview,

The Alt-Left: A Critical Appreciation

You know who I’m talking about. The CanarySkwawkboxNovaraEvolve Politics and Another Angry Voice have been singled out by the mainstream as the authentic voices of the new socialism that has seized hold of the Labour Party and powered it to its highest number of votes for 20 years.

What they all share is a default (and correct) assumption that the system is rigged and the powers-that-be will conspire, collude, and collaborate to forever gerrymander privilege for themselves and their cronies. 

He noted the “size of their audience”.

Alas, things didn’t turn out the way these enthusiasts hoped.

Novara (who? it’s that bloke who talks about luxury communism, or spaceships, or something), Evolve Politics (?) Another Angry Voice..

Skwawkbox, or his mates call him, Skwawky – that’s the one who’s got a bit of a UNTE leak problem, who spends his time these days campaigning to make sure no Labour government is every elected – and the Canary are still followed by a few.

Audiences are said to be in free-fall for all these outlets.

The Boss of the Canary, Kerry-Anne Mendoza,  has just got herself into a fine mess.

She’s fallen out with Owen Jones, somebody she calls a ‘kiss bottom’.


The brave anti-fascist is not backing down!


Here is her really at it: kneecapping and all.

Here’s why:

Happy are the days of those who can pile into Owen Jones.

Mendoza, who was a star Corbynista, is no longer a member of the Labour Party, although she remains a leading resistance fighter against fascism.

Perhaps she hopes that being boorish will help her media vehicle regain a lost audience.

Somebody loves her:


This Blog Says:

More Power to You Cde Owen!



Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2020 at 4:47 pm