Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Pabloism

Official: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change but 20% of MPs needed to nominate leadership candidates.

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Keir Starmer: Radical who attacked Kinnock in Marxist journal | News | The  Times

The Youth of a Leader.

Labour conference: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change.

BBC.

Sir Keir Starmer has been forced to drop changes to the way Labour elects its leaders after they were rejected by the party’s left wing.

(Note: and the soft left centre, and people with any sense who is against turning over Labour to rule by a special class of alderpeople, and those who dislike factionalising right-wingers).

He had wanted to scrap one-member-one vote – but opponents said that would give Labour MPs too much say over who gets the top job.

Sir Keir is now hoping to get members to back a watered-down package of reforms in a conference vote on Sunday.

He says they will help the party win the next general election.

The row over Labour’s constitution began earlier this week, when the leader proposed changing the way his successors would be chosen.

….

The shelving of the plan to put Labour alderman and women before anybody else in Labour leadership elections is to be welcomed.

But…

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a diluted package of reforms earlier on Saturday, but they will also need to be agreed by party members.

The package includes:

  • A rule that any candidate would need the backing of 20% of party MPs to get onto the leadership ballot – up from the current 10%
  • Increasing the percentage of local party members needed to trigger a reselection process for their MP – up to 50% from a third
  • Scrapping registered supporters – where voters can pay a one-off fee to vote in the leadership election
  • Another rule where people will have to have been a party member for six months before they can vote for a leader

These new plans were agreed by 22 votes to 12.

Speaking after the meeting at the party’s conference in Brighton, Sir Keir said: “I’m very pleased these party reforms have got the backing of our NEC.

“These proposals put us in a better position to win the next general election and I hope constituency and trade union delegates will support them when they come to conference floor.”

**

20% of MPs is a high bar, and look, because it is, an attempt to prevent left-wingers getting nominated for a contest.

In the 2020 leadership elections “Long-Bailey, who is backed by John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, secured 26, while Phillips had 22 and Nandy 24, putting them just over the threshold needed to make it on to the ballot.” That’s when the bar stood at 10% and the number of nominations needed was 22.

Now candidates will have to get 40/4` nominations.

Had that applied in 2020 there would have been one candidate on the ballot paper, Keir Starmer.

It’s an interesting question as to how ‘Labour members’ can decide on these proposals since they only pulled out of a hat, or written on fag-packet, in the last day. Nobody at CLP meetings will have discussed them.

Starmer’s support from the reasonable left is peeling away:

The Tendance Central Committee met this morning to discuss the backsliding by one-time Pabloite Starmer.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm

Keir Starmer’s ‘Contribution Society’: a step backwards from Social Democracy.

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Image

Family, Hard Work, Communities, and Patriotic Pride.

Since the years when Tony Blair’s Third Way flourished demands for equality of opportunity have dominated centre-left politics. Stronger demands for equality, the hallmark of many different kinds of socialism, were shelved.

The 1950s ‘revisionist’ current inside the Labour Party, which remained influential until the 1980s, had believed that a society of abundance had arrived, that issues of public ownership were echoes of the past, still held to the principle. Anthony Crosland wrote The Future of Socialism, (1956) He believed that a broad sweep of progressive legislation could be achieved because, “the absolute rule of private property, the subjection of all life to market influences” and other features of classical capitalism had been reformed by post-war governments. They had created a consensus around the mixed economy and the welfare state. With this backdrop, socialism was not a matter of doctrine about ownership of industry or class struggle, but concern for the “bottom dog” and a vision of a “just, co-operative, classless society.”

How, here and now, could the cause of the downtrodden be promoted? For the academic and Labour politician the case for equality rested on the objectives of a “better society”, ethical goals of social justice, and ending the tragedies of wasted lives. To further these goals, Egalitarian changes were needed in education, the “distribution of property, the distribution of resources, in periods of need, social manners and style of life, and the location of power within industry. and. but certainly a smaller changes in respect of incomes from work.” (Page 148). In Britain, equality of opportunity and social mobility […] are not enough. They need to be combined with measures […] to equalise the distribution of rewards and privileges so as to diminish the degree of class stratification, the injustices of large inequalities and the collective discontents.” (Page 169) The “revisionists” considered that reforms to achieve these aims could be achieved in a society in which ownership is “mixed up”, nationalised, private, co-operative, mutual, in a pluralist society promoting “liberty and gaiety”.

Crosland believed a whole-scale conservative “counter-revolution ” to restore full-bloodied capitalism unlikely.

That happened. Thatcherism came to set down a new consensus, based on free-market mechanisms privatising nationalised industries, and making the state serve the market.

Labour in the 1990s adapted and accepted much of the outline of what would come to be known as neo-liberalism (1)

The emergence of the Third Way: Giddens and Blair (David Morrison New Labour, citizenship and the discourse of the Third Way).

(Giddens) argues that ‘[a] democratic society that generates large-scale inequality is likely to produce widespread disaffection and conflict’.12Giddens argues that promoting equality means more than merely promoting equality of opportunity13 and that equality should be seen as inclusiveness.14 He explains: ‘Inclusion in its broadest sense refers to citizenship, to the civil and political rights and obligations that all members of a society should have not just formally but as a reality of their lives.’15 It is notable that Giddens does not mention the social rights that were once seen as integral to post-war social democracy. In contrast, Blair’s account of the Third Way barely mentions equality. Instead it offers ‘opportunity’, with but a single reference to ‘equal worth’.16 Gordon Brown, who argued that in the context of the 1990s equality meant equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, made clear the meaning of equality for New Labour.17

How does this relate to Labour today?

The Road Ahead begins uncontroversially enough,

“The next Labour government will be focused on creating jobs people are proud of, reimagining our public services for those who use them, creating a new and better relationship with business and delivering world-class health and education. And we will build his on solid foundations, with security at home, in the workplace, on the streets and from those who would do us harm.”

But lets go straight to the many problems about the pamphlet:

Kier Starmer’s ‘Contribution Society’ does not make many, if any, steps forward from that period, Its emphasis is “on “hard-working families”, the need to be “rewarded fairly” if you “work hard and play by the rules”, government being a “partner to private enterprise”, a rejection of “waste” in public spending, and the importance of being “proudly patriotic” but not engaging in “the divisiveness of nationalism”.

The Guardian cites Starmer,

Highlighting the challenges facing children from low-income backgrounds, he says Labour would help provide the “soft skills” that allow private school pupils to emerge with “enviable self-confidence, self-worth and belief,”

That would mean ensuring that by the age of ten they have the opportunity to “play an instrument, join a competitive sports team, visit the seaside, the countryside, or the city, go to cultural institutions, ride a bike and learn how to debate their ideas.”

“From my days at university, through my legal career and as a politician, I’ve seen supremely talented, hard-working people from ordinary backgrounds held back, not just by material circumstances but by self-doubt or a sense they don’t quite ‘belong,’” he says.

In other words, this is a programme for equality of opportunity starting from the school. It is also dosed through and through with a kind of family-centred, patriotic Blue Labour lite. That is, the need to be “once again be Britain’s bricks and mortar – a symbol of solidity, reliability, shelter and the prospect of building something new and better”.

Ideological dressing up can be quickly tossed aside, less masonry than puffery. Nevertheless, this is praise beyond the needs of product placement. Starmer will get the “resources of the state and the innovative brilliance of the private sector to work together rather than against each other”. Dusting off the memories of the Blair years it implies continuing the Conservative pioneered, “partnership” with the private sector” which seems like an excuse not to rid the public sector of private parasitical companies ‘delivering services’ from ‘training’ on the dole, ‘outsourcing’, to provision that should be in-house in the NHS. Not to mention the removal from democratic control of public goods like transport, trains and buses, and the hiving out of local government work.

And yet….The real problem is the premises, the kind of fairness and equality, such as it is, advocated. That is “fair pay for fair work”.

Starmer offers no step forward on a central issue of socialism, equality.

This can be seen not only by comparing his words with Crossland’s call for a push for egalitarian reform, progressive taxation onwards. You can also see it by looking at critics of meritocracy.

Interviewed about his book The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? (2020) the ‘Communitarian’ US political philosopher Michael Sanders, observes,

“The solution to problems of globalisation and inequality – and we heard this on both sides of the Atlantic – was that those who work hard and play by the rules should be able to rise as far as their effort and talents will take them. This is what I call in the book the ‘rhetoric of rising’. It became an article of faith, a seemingly uncontroversial trope. We will make a truly level playing field, it was said by the centre-left, so that everyone has an equal chance. And if we do, and so far as we do, then those who rise by dint of effort, talent, hard work will deserve their place, will have earned it.”

The article, Michael Sandel: ‘The populist backlash has been a revolt against the tyranny of merit’ (Guardian. 2020) continues,

Sandel has two fundamental objections to this approach. First, and most obvious, the fabled “level playing field” remains a chimera. Although he says more and more of his own Harvard students are now convinced that their success is a result of their own effort, two-thirds of them come from the top fifth of the income scale. It is a pattern replicated across the Ivy League universities. The relationship between social class and SAT scores – which grade high school students ahead of college – is well attested. More generally, he notes, social mobility has been stalled for decades. “Americans born to poor parents tend to stay poor as adults.”

But the main point of The Tyranny of Merit is a different one: Sandel is determined to aim a broadside squarely at a left-liberal consensus that has reigned for 30 years. Even a perfect meritocracy, he says, would be a bad thing. “The book tries to show that there is a dark side, a demoralising side to that,” he says. “The implication is that those who do not rise will have no one to blame but themselves.” Centre-left elites abandoned old class loyalties and took on a new role as moralising life-coaches, dedicated to helping working-class individuals shape up to a world in which they were on their own. “On globalisation,” says Sandel, “these parties said the choice was no longer between left and right, but between ‘open’ and ‘closed’. Open meant free flow of capital, goods and people across borders.” Not only was this state of affairs seen as irreversible, it was also presented as laudable. “To object in any way to that was to be closed-minded, prejudiced and hostile to cosmopolitan identities.”

There have been books that have made this point from a more explicitly left wing standpoint. Pierre Rosenvallon’s  La société des égaux (2011). The influential French writer (like many I have read many many of his books and followed his public lectures on-line) traced out the British debate about revisionism, Crosland, equality and ‘meritocracy’. He underlined, as Starmer does not, he massive increase in inequality over the last decades. Rosanvallon offered acid criticisms of equality of opportunity (‘égalité des chances’) and proposed his own substantive egalitarianism as part of broader social relations, “relation sociale”. These themes, taking account of the complexity of equality and inequality, have been developed in his more recent books and articles.

Une brève histoire de l’égalité, Thomas Piketty (2021) has just been published.  The author of the internationally debated Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014) and Capital and Ideology (2020) advocates restoring levels of progressive taxation on high incomes – as was the case between 1930 and 1970 -, a capital endowment paid to everyone at the age of 25 equal to “60% of the average wealth per adult (ie 120,000 euros) ”in the case of France, a carbon tax proportional to income, the “de-commodification” of sectors of common interest (education, health, culture, transport, energy) entrusted to “public, municipal, associative or non-profit structures” .

That is the kind of social democratic reformism, or ““democratic, Green socialism.” you could warm to. A lot more than putting ” contribution and community at the centre of our efforts” and the prospect of a “nation remade”.

Or indeed this,

“Self-managing socialism aims at reducing the role of the state to its coordinating functions whereby various self-managing initiatives can be brought together, just as they might be at local, regional, national and international level. What is important is that any state-level ‘coordination’ must, by very definition, come and be controlled from the ‘bottom up’.”

“..the emergence of new social movements mens that we mus rethink ‘socialism’ in such as way that their emancipatory demands blend into an alliance with the demands of the fighting sections of the working class.”

Keir Starmer. ‘Wapping: End of the Street?’, Socialist Alternatives, vol. 2 no. 1, April/May 1987

*****

(1) A convenient list:

Areas of political consensus after Thatcher

  • Britain was now in a globalised market and needed to improve the education and skills of the workforce and remove many labour regulations to help firms compete against those in other countries.
  • Wealth creation by business and particularly entrepreneurs was to be encouraged and would provide the resources to pay for public services. This would also raise incomes overall so that there was no need to redistribute wealth by taxation of the rich.
  • The trade union reforms of the 1980s would remain in place. Blair distanced himself from the trade unions that were affiliated to the Labour Party and did not involve them in developing policy.
  • There would be no reversal of the privatisations carried out by the Conservative Government.  The provision of public services could be contracted out to the private sector if they were cheaper and more efficient. Private finance could be used to build major public projects such as hospitals by means of the Private Finance Initiative.
  • Consumer choice was important in all areas.   People should be able to choose between schools and where to have a hospital operation.  Public service reform would be carried out through league tables and performance measures so that local authorities and hospital trusts worked efficiently.
  • People should be encouraged into work and off benefits by programmes to help them do this but with sanctions, if they did not participate.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2021 at 12:24 pm

John McDonnell calls for talks to “defuse the row” over Exclusions from the Labour Party.

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The Labour Party, Trotskyism and Pabloism. | Tendance Coatesy

Days When Keir Starmer was a “radical anti-imperialist ecosocialist”.

This is an important intervention.

In a BBC interview, he suggested that disciplinary action against some members on the Left of the party had made many others feel “unwelcome”, and in some cases “intimidated”.

He is calling for the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to call a summit with his critics next week, as Labour prepares for its in-person annual conference, to address their ‘grievances”.

Otherwise, he said, an internal party row could dominate the first day of the Labour conference in Brighton.

And he was critical of the way Labour’s disciplinary process is being applied.

He told the BBC: “What’s happened is a number of groups have been proscribed and we are now receiving reports of large numbers of members of the party being excluded from the party on the basis of statements or retweeting something from one of these groups before they were proscribed.

“This flies in the face of natural justice… It is like being guilty of pre-crime.”

He said he believed that this had consequences far beyond those who are directly affected.

“This sends a message throughout the party to some members that they are not welcome.

“My understanding is we have lost at least 100,000 members so far. If you start losing that mass membership, we are undermining our ability to fight elections – which is appalling.”

The effects of the exclusions, as John McDonnell, have extended beyond what Private Eye calls in the latest issue (17th of September) the “ragtag gang of S[artists and anti-Zionists who believe the party’s antisemitism crisis was mostly made up” – aka Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

When somebody of the moderation and good sense of Ann Black signs this you know something is wrong.

Update, September 9thLabourList understands that Ann Black, thought of as a ‘soft left’ NEC member and not one who was backed by Momentum as a candidate, has now also signed the joint letter. There are now 13 signatories.

12 members of Labour’s ruling body have written to David Evans and Margaret Beckett to say they “feel deeply uncomfortable” about the way the ban on certain groups is being implemented, LabourList can reveal.

in a letter to the general secretary and NEC chair, the group of 12 NEC members – all considered to be on the party’s left – have now raised concerns over retrospective action being taken and how ‘support’ is being defined.

They have highlighted reports of Labour members being given “notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively”, with evidence of their support for a group originating from before the ban was agreed.

The NEC members are also concerned that the definition of ‘support’ being used is not the same as the specific indicators of support that were set out in the NEC papers in July, which means the parameters are being set by staff.

“We don’t believe that how they are implementing the proscription is how it was represented in the NEC meeting,” one NEC source told LabourList. “It’s not fair, I don’t think, the way this has been applied.”

Labour sources have pointed out that banning support for a political organisation other than the Labour Party was already in the rulebook, and members of Socialist Appeal had been expelled from the party before the July NEC meeting.

It has also been said that the lists of ways in which members could be deemed to have demonstrated support for the banned groups were non-exhaustive, and other forms of support – such as social media activity – also count.

TSSA’s Andi Fox, FBU’s Ian Murray, ASLEF’s Mick Whelan, Unite’s Jayne Taylor and CWU’s Andy Kerr, all from the trade union section of Labour’s NEC, have also signed the letter.

Below is the full text of the letter from a group of NEC members.

Dear Margaret Beckett and David Evans,

Members of the National Executive Committee feel deeply uncomfortable about the way in which the proscription of political organisations paper has been implemented subsequent to the decision of the meeting of the 20th July 2021. It is the view of those who have signed this letter that the true intent of the decision, as to how it would be applied to individuals, was concealed and/or misdescribed.

We have been made aware that members of the Labour Party, said to be supporters of proscribed groups, have had notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively, in so far as it is alleged support prior to the decision of the NEC and that is being used as justification for auto-expulsion.

At no point in the NEC discussion about proscription of political organisations, and nor within the officers papers, was it suggested or stated that members would be subject to suspensions or auto expulsions for past support given to any of the proscribed organisations. Such alleged support of an individual would of course have been given when the organisation in question was implicitly or expressly welcomed into Labour. The mere fact that Labour took no action to either proscribe the grouping or suspend an individual for giving alleged support to such grouping, is reflective of that fact that at that time neither the grouping in question, nor an individual’s support, was considered contrary to Labour values. This retrospective application is unfair, likely contrary to our rules and not something that the NEC should be taken to have agreed to without specific debate.

If this retrospective application is to be applied consistently then anyone who has ever been a member of another political party (proscribed by Labour) can never become a member of Labour. An MP can never cross the floor to Labour.

We are further alarmed at the definition of ‘support’ for the organisations now being applied by GLU. It is a definition that is not only all encompassing but one that’s application is subjective. It is a paid member of staff, not the NEC, who now decides what actions amount to ‘support’ of a proscribed organisation and subject to auto-expulsion.

The examples given to the NEC of what amounted to support were clearly understood by the signatures to this correspondence, intended to be definitive. If the list of what constituted “support” was to be added to then this would be in consultation with the NEC. We accept the papers use the Latin “inter alia”, although the meaning of this Latin term was not explained to the NEC members, it does not mean that the authority for deciding the meaning of “support” would transfer from the NEC to paid staff. This is obviously of the utmost importance as members being accused of “support” are then being subject to auto expulsion and denied the opportunity to make their case to the NEC.

This is against natural justice, contrary to the fairness principles that run through our Rule Book but also entirely contrary to the custom and practice of the application of the auto expulsion rule which until now has been precise as to the member’s conduct and not open to such a level of subjective analysis.

Based on the discussion at the NEC and information contained in the the papers, it is our opinion that the Labour Party administration is current acting outside of the authority granted by the NEC.

The officials must now recall the NEC to have a clear and transparent debate about whether the retrospective application is either fair or capable of consistent application. The recalled NEC must also clearly define what future actions will constitute “support” and confirm that it is for the NEC to consider any additions to the list of actions considered by the administration to be capable of constituting “support”. If the NEC is not recalled we wish to formally request to have this matter added to the agenda for our next meeting on 17th September.

If the integrity of the NEC decision making process is to be upheld then the recall must happen without delay and before any further auto expulsions occur.

Yours sincerely,

Laura Pidcock
Nadia Jama
Gemma Bolton
Lara McNeill
Andi Fox
Ian Murray
Yasmine Dar
Mish Rahman
Mick Whelan
Jayne Taylor
Andy Kerr
Ellen Morrison
Update: Ann Black

Starmer’s own Left Background.

Perhaps this is the moment to mention that Keir Starmer also has had strong links with the radical left.

In the recently published Red Knight, Keir Starmer the Unauthorised Biography, by Michael Ashcroft, there is a whole chapter on the Labour Leader’s activity in the Socialist Society and his links with the Pabloite Tendance Marxist Révolutionnaire Internationale (TMRI). It includes a rare interview with his comrade Ben Schoendorff:

 “We were radical anti-imperialist ecosocialists,” said Ben Schoendorff, the leader of the seven-member editorial team, including Starmer, 23, that ran Socialist Alternatives. The magazine was inspired by Michalis Raptis, a Greek former Trotskyist known as Pablo, whose faction, the Pabloites, wanted to broaden socialism to include feminism and green politics. The first issue was published in July 1986, proclaiming that its vision of socialism was “the generalised self-management of society as a whole”; it claimed to be “concretely working towards a radical extension of popular control over wealth and power” by integrating the traditional labour movement with “new social movements”.

Independent.

The book, which also cites a certain A. Coates, does not mention just how radical that anti-imperialism was. This is the leader of the group, the tendance marxiste-révolutionnaire internationale (TMRI).

Michel Raptis “was personally closely involved in supporting the Algerian national liberation struggle against France, which led to imprisonment in the Netherlands in connection with counterfeit money and gun-smuggling activities. A campaign for his release was launched by Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1961, Pablo was finally sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, and liberated at the end of his trial. He took refuge in Morocco. After the victory of the Algerian revolution, he became a (very junior, note) minister in the FLN government.” Michel Pablo

While Schoendorff was equally part of the French section of the TMRI, the Alliance Marxiste Révolutionnaire (TMR) – a group this Blog writer was close to. They were involved in the ‘self-management’ (autogestion) currents of the French left, which many of us are still inspired by.

There is a distinct memory of Keir Starmer being at one, the 8th and the last, International Conference of the group, held in Paris in 1985. He did not speak French or Spanish, the main languages of the event, and I was asked to translate for a person very similar to the present Labour leader. Our little joke these days is that if the meeting had been held in Latin the lawyer would have had no difficulty participating.

In the days before Screen Shots there is no way to prove this, but one can say that the delegates included people whose radicalism and participation in the ‘struggle’ would put groups like the marginal messianic cult, Socialist Appeal, in the shade.

It is worth saying that Socialist Appeal is not accused of Anti-Semitism. Grounds for auto-exclusion of supporters are that:

“Socialist Appeal has its own programme, membership, and structures; that we are part of an international organisation, the International Marxist Tendency; and that our organisation is a continuation of the Militant Tendency, which was similarly proscribed by the Kinnock leadership in the 1980s.”

Leaving the last bit aside (who these days cares about the Millies, and their unloved, floundering (if not foundering) offspring TUSC.

Ealing council, London, Hobbayne ward by election result of 16 September Labour 1617, 52.2%Tory 865, 27.9%Green 362, 11.7%Lib Dem 207, 6.7%Tony Gill, TUSC (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition) 48, 1.5%

But the rest surely applies to the TMRI…

****
More.

Benjamin Schoendorff is a licensed psychologist and international trainer living near Montreal with his wife, baby child and two step daughters.

Benji has a passion for helping people get unstuck and move toward valued living and travels the world over to train clinicians from all backgrounds in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP).

In addition to his clinical and training practice, he currently researches ACT in the treatment of Obsessive Complusive Disorder as part of the Montreal university mental health institute.

As an author and trainer, Benji is renowned for his down-to-earth, authentic, relationship-centered and deeply compassionate style. He believes effective science-based methods to get unstuck are too precious to remain confined to academia and has made it his life mission to disseminate them in an engaging and easily accessible way. Simple, but not simplistic. Benji dreams of a scientific psychology in the service of spreading love, peace and understanding.

He has written books and chapters in French and English. His next book, The ACT practitioner’s guide to the science of comapssion and co-authored with Dennis Tirch and Laura Silberstein, is due to be published by New Harbinger in december 2014.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2021 at 11:00 am