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Posts Tagged ‘SWP

Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore, Socialist Worker…..On the Eve, more Reasons to Back the Stop Tory Brexit Bloc. Tomorrow.

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“Lining up behind big business calls for a second referendum to stay in the racist, neoliberal EU.”Socialist Worker

I won’t be marching for a people’s vote. There has already been one 

Ipswich’s most famous daughter, and former Punter on the Orwell Estuary, writes that “some of her best friends” will be joining the march.

I won’t be joining them. Not because I don’t care about their feelings or voices, but because of the strange denial of what this is all about.

She adds,

So half the country are racist, old, small-minded, poor people who were seduced by a combination of Aaron Banks and the delusions of empire? Spare me please.

Picture of where Moore used to go ‘punting’:

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Spiked: ‘I love rebellion, and that’s why I love Brexit’

Julie Burchill on her new play, the working classes, sex and Brexit.

People Like Us – a new play about sex and Brexit. ”

 I was happy with my semi-retired life, doing volunteer work and having long lunches by the sea with my mates.

….

People Like Us is billed as a play about sex and Brexit. What’s the connection?”

I think that the ruling class – even when they’ve been progressives and actually very helpful, like Marie Stopes, and the Fabians – have always had a parasexual fear of the working class. It’s probably to do with the sort of sex they imagine us having – animalistic rather than caring or whatever – and this is a dark backbeat to Brexit, that we’re seeking to wallow in our own filth, be it racial, sexual or otherwise. It’s not us who’s having erotic spasms – it’s the prissy Remainers, looking under their blameless beds for big bad Brexiteers to treat ’em rough.

It is hard to beat that…..

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From our spaz side.

Only Labour can save Britain from this disastrous Brexit

As a trades unionist, negotiating for workers’ rights is my lifeblood. But never have I seen a negotiating hand played worse. May has led her cabinet into a hole and their inability to tell it straight to the British people means they can’t stop digging. British people crave straight-talking, and they crave a politics in which politicians treat them as grown-ups. Truth-tellers are respected. It’s the liars who can’t be stomached.

So with an extended transition deal set to turn Britain from EU nation state to yoked province, it falls to the people to rescue the country from Tory idiocy. But Labour, too, must rise to what is now becoming a national liberation struggle. The Brexit that was promised to leavers is not remotely possible. The backlash against May as this truth sinks in will finish her. For those of us committed to a Labour government, this is now Jeremy Corbyn’s moment. He can be prime minister-in-waiting if he leads the new battle of ideas for a different kind of Brexit.

Vassal state is not an option Labour can tolerate. Absolutely no one voted to be a colony. It is as ridiculous a political choice as it is unnecessary. The Tories are the party of the binary – we had a yes or no referendum and then a deal or no-deal Brexit. This is no way to do democratic politics. Labour’s position of keeping all options on the table subverts the Tories’ immature binaries – and enables a variety of democratic choices to prevail, including a popular vote on the outcome of negotiations and even a remain option should facts compel us to it.

What is now being offered makes staying berthed inside the EU look like a safe harbour. And Corbyn’s wait-and-see approach has ushered him to the threshold of government. The Tory shambles in which we go from EU nation state with full rights to irrelevant outpost should now be fully opposed. Retaining full EU voting membership until we have negotiated the future trading relationship with our European partners must become a Labour manifesto commitment. This won’t be easy as the EU itself has made leaving a red line for the start of negotiations about the future trading relationship. But the ace up Labour’s sleeve is the fact that we have not ruled out a popular vote once negotiations have been concluded. In the absence of a general election before 29 March, Labour must use parliamentary procedures to counter the government’s policy. To maintain the continued liberation of Britain now falls to Labour. We are ready.

‱ Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Socialist Worker Warns, Vote for Anti-Brexit Resolutions will be a “Huge Victory for the Right.”

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“Right wing faction” Championing People’s Vote, says Socialist Worker.

Beware the union leaders’ moves against Corbyn at Labour Party conference

Socialist Worker. Today.

More than 100 Constituency Labour Parties have reportedly submitted motions calling for a “People’s Vote” on a future exit deal with the EU.

The motions have been championed by right wing factions in the party as a way of pushing Labour into opposing Brexit altogether.

As in…

The Independent says, “A substantial amount of the motions, however, are based on the left-wing statement backed by Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a People’s Vote. “

John McDonnell says,

 “I’m still saying all options are on the table. We’re never going to reject any form of democratic engagement so a People’s Vote is still on the table – but I want a General Election.” 

Left Foot Forward. (Today)

 

Socialist Worker, in its campaign to divide the labour movement, and ignore the threat from the far-right fomented by Brexit, says,

Labour’s leadership has rightly avoided both calling for a second referendum and opposing Brexit.

But since the vote to Leave, it has constantly fudged its own position—neither backing remaining, nor making a clear left wing case for leaving.

Instead it has made semi-retreats and compromises—such as seeking “access” to the pro-privatisation European single market.

Crucially, this has helped the right to sell opposing Brexit as something progressive to left wing, Labour members who ­support Corbyn.

If Labour conference votes to back a second referendum it will be a huge victory for the right.

At last year’s conference delegates overwhelmingly voted not to debate motions on Brexit that could have led to defeat for Corbyn.

Those opposing them included the influential Corbyn-supporting Momentum faction.

This year Labour’s leadership may not be able to avoid the debate—and the vote on whether or not to have a second referendum may not be so clear cut.

If it’s a close call, the votes of one or two major unions will probably swing it.

After the TUC union federation last week voted to support a “People’s Vote,” it looks likely that union delegates will back the right’s motions.

I think we can do without this Ladybird ‘History’ full of venom against the trade unions.

History shows why unions back the right wing’s People’s Vote initiative

Watch this instead:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

SWP and others call for relaunch of the Anti Nazi League (ANL).

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Is the Past Another Country?

In Socialist Worker this week,

Labour’s John McDonnell’s recent call for a movement “emulating the work of Anti Nazi League” was incredibly important. Paul Holborow, who co-founded the organisation, looks at its history and its legacy.

How the Anti Nazi League beat back the fascists

We learnt from the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who argued for the need to build a united front against fascism.

Today, Stand Up To Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism are active and provide focuses for opposition to the far right.

The founding members of the ANL are all supporters of these organisations, which stand in its tradition.

But with the scale of the challenge we now face, we need to broaden and deepen those three organisations.

Anything that John McDonnell can do to assist us in this process of extending unity is hugely welcome.

We need to get together and create a genuine mass movement that takes on one of most serious challenges of fascism since the 1930s.

In the Guardian today,

All of us who are committed to a tolerant, multiracial and multicultural society face a growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK, encouraged by Donald Trump and his close associate Steve Bannon and now boosted by the release from jail of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The storming of the socialist bookshop Bookmarks (Report, 6 August) and the disturbingly large mobilisations on the streets of London, Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere underline the scale of the threat.

Boris Johnson’s recent remarks are a calculated bid to appeal to the same audience and can only give them further confidence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s recent call for an Anti-Nazi League-type cultural and political campaign is therefore very welcome and timely. We need a broader-based, imaginative and vibrant campaign that unequivocally opposes all forms of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

As founder members over 40 years ago of the original Anti-Nazi League (ANL) and its sister organisation Rock Against Racism, we think that Stand up to Racism, Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism have been established firmly within this tradition, and indeed these organisations have already provided essential and much-needed rallying points of opposition to the rising far right.

This is a process that, as John argues, now urgently needs to be deepened and extended, uniting all people and organisations of goodwill against the huge challenges we face over the next few years from the far right and fascists.

This will involve applying the ANL’s tactics of mass propaganda, unrelenting opposition to the racists and fascists wherever they organise, and the cultural appeal that ANL/RAR pioneered, with large-scale music and similar events asserting the values of our multiracial and diverse society.

We believe this needs to done with the utmost speed. Tommy Robinson and his international backers are likely to be preparing further national and international events in the autumn, seeking to build support and influence. Developments in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy highlight how urgent this is. Echoes of the 1930s are all too real.

Whatever our other political differences, we believe the time to come together against the poison of racism and fascism is now.

Peter Hain House of Lords; founder member, Anti-Nazi League 
Paul Holborow Founder member and national secretary, Anti-Nazi League 
Red Saunders Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Roger Huddle Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Jerry Dammers Musician, The Specials, 2 Tone, Rock Against Racism 
Carol Grimes Musican, Rock Against Racism 
Tom Robinson Musician, Rock against Racism 
Mykaell Riley Musician, Bass Culture, Steel Pulse, Rock Against Racism

Divisively  there is no mention of the effect that Brexit has had in encouraging the “growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK.”

This is despite the fact that the movement behind Tommy Robinson and the “storming” of Bookmarks were created and led by groups and individuals linked to UKIP and the Brexit Right, not to mention that Bannon and Trump’s backing for Brexit is a pillar of their politics.

There is nothing about  Hope not Hate in the list of organisations to learn from.

It is equally hard to see that unity on anti-semitism is easy to achieve.

Counterfire, a faction which left the SWP and which plays an important role in such bodies as the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly, is at present engaged in a campaign to “defend Jeremy Corbyn” against charges of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Whatever the merits of this initiative they, supporters of a non-existent ‘People’s Brexit’, link it to this claim:

The right will also increasingly seek to couple this campaign around antisemitism with pressure to modify the party’s stance on Brexit in favour of keeping Britain in the Single Market or even calling for a second referendum on Brexit. In this, the right has the support of the British establishment and much of the media.

Corbyn is right – the left needs to fight back against the slander of antisemitism

There are other, substantial, reasons why unity with the SWP looks unlikely.

Background to Stand up to Racism, (October. 2016)

Stand Up To Racism: Stand Up To Rape Culture

We, the undersigned, want all planned speakers and delegates to withdraw their attendance from Stand Up to Racism’s conference on 8 October. We ask because the speakers will share the bill with Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism’s co-convenor and a central committee member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

This must include refusing to lend any support to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) either directly, or indirectly through its front organisations including “Unite Against Fascism”, “Unite the Resistance”, “Stand up to UKIP” and “Stand Up To Racism”.

We call on people to do this because the SWP’s well documented failing of two women members who accused the then central committee member of the SWP, known as “Comrade Delta”, of rape and sexually assault. The complainants were asked classic victim-blaming questions about their behaviour and drinking habits. Some members of the SWP leadership denounced the complaints as motivated by a “dangerous feminism”. SWP members who in 2012-2013 challenged the central committee’s kangaroo courts were expelled from the party – many more left in disgust.

This is not about bad individuals. The SWP as a whole is an acute example of collective disregard for sexual violence. Their culture and leadership continues to put its own internal interests above tackling rape and supporting complainants within its ranks. Sexual assault and harassment are not unique to the SWP, or to left-wing organisations, but the SWP’s unwillingness to address its failings show it should not to be worked with.

The racialised violence that has followed the Brexit vote demands a strong anti-racist movement; this movement must be principled and intersectional. This means recognising what Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black Feminists have shown, that sexism and racism do not operate in silos rather oppressions often overlap and intersect. We cannot build an anti-racist movement organised by rape apologists and anti-feminists. We must end the bankrupt politics of the past, not rehabilitate some of the worst proponents.

It is vital for women and non-binary people – particularly people of colour who wish to resist the racism they experience – to be able to organise politically without groups that facilitate or cover up sexual assault. The SWP and the campaigns they lead are demonstrably not capable of offering this.

AFem Conference organising committee
Bis Of Colour
Black Lives Matter UK 
Brighton Solidarity Federation
East End Sisters Uncut
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth
London Campaign Against Police & State Violence
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
Southall Black Sisters
Southwark Notes
The Free University of Sheffield

Amendment:

After sending our letter to those billed to speak at the conference, at least one high profile speaker dropped out. We were also assured by a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s media team that Corbyn had agreed not to attend. However, on 8th October it was widely documented that Jeremy Corbyn went to the conference. We suspect that we were deliberately misled to stop us from going public with our concerns about Corbyn’s association with the SWP.

Some signatories have publicly defended Corbyn’s politics in the past. However we are all agreed that any platform for the SWP is counter-productive for grassroots community and labour organising. This is because of its leadership’s abuse and gaslighting towards women inside and outside the organisation. Stand Up To Racism cannot be an effective anti-racist movement if it actively condones misogyny by having rape apologists in its leadership and paid staff.

The Guardian reported in 2016.

Weyman Bennett, one of two co-conveners of Stand Up to Racism, with whom Corbyn shared a platform at Saturday’s event, is a longstanding member of the SWP, and a recent entry on the SWP’s website listed details of SUTR planning meetings and called on members to attend the rally.

“Comrades in every local Stand Up to Racism group should be fighting down to the wire to build the biggest possible event,” it says. Many mainstream political figures also serve on the SUTR steering committee, including Abbott, its president, and Labour MP Kate Osamor, one of five vice-chairs.

Corbyn is also set to face questions over his attendance at the rally and its links to the SWP from his own MPs on Monday night, according to a report in LabourList. Several speakers, including the Guardian columnist Owen Jones, pulled out of the event after learning of activists’ concerns about the link to the SWP.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

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“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbån in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But OrbĂĄn, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

Socialist Workers Party Thuggery Returns.

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“SWP stewards overturned the AWL stall, stole leaflets and threatened violence while we were leafleting at Marxism, for our meeting on the left and Brexit.”

Today (Saturday 7 July), a group of Workers’ Liberty supporters went along to the SWP’s annual Marxism festival. We wanted to talk to attendees and challenge some of the SWP’s politics, and especially their support for “Lexit” during the European referendum.

We were leafleting for a fringe meeting hosted by ourselves – The Left Should Oppose Brexit. One of the guest speakers was from Another Europe is Possible/Left Against Brexit.

The result of this activity? The SWP first overturning and breaking our stall while it was set up outside the Institute of Education. The material overturned from the stall was picked up by SWP organisers and put on the floor on the footpath. One of the organisers stole a chunk of the Brexit event leaflets. Some of the material was torn up.

Later, when standing outside Student Central (Malet Street) SWP members stood round our leafleters making petty comments and obstructing them for over an hour.

Behaving like police enforcers against picketers or demonstrators we were continually asked to move one or two metres in order to stand on the pavement. One SWPer challenged one of our members to a fight.

The image shows the result of a gang of them coming to remove us from IoE: the stall on it’s side, broken with a pile of material in the gutter, including some which has been ripped up.

The SWP have form here. At Marxism 1993 two of our comrades were physically assaulted by SWP thugs (see what we published about it here). At the time the AWL launched a campaign against violence in the labour movement. We said then and we repeat it now: the left has disagreements but these should always be resolved by discussion and debate.

It should be completely taken for granted that the left should interact without resorting to physical obstruction, removal from venues, destroying literature and threatening physical fights.

Workers’ Liberty.

The SWP has promoted a call for ” a united mass movement” against the rise in racist far-right street protests and this,

Unity protest against Tommy Robinson, Trump and the far-right.

Some on the left (Socialist Resistance) have already noted that,

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) mobilised about 300 people against them. Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership. They are sometimes able to get Diane Abbott or Jeremy Corbyn to speak at their events but they have no relationship with Labour Party members and many on the left are unwilling to work with them because of their leaderships’ role in dealing with an allegation of sexual assault. Whatever one’s political judgement on that view, it’s a fact which won’t go away.

What kind of unity can we have with the burly SWP toughs who act in this way against political critics on the left?

Having been to the Chartist AGM yesterday where one of the main speakers in the morning was the same as the one addressing the later in the day meeting the AWL were advertising (see above), Alena Ivanova (Another Europe Is Possible), perhaps the SWP should had come to Toynbee Hall and beaten us up as well.

Some History:

This year’s Marxism was marred by a disgraceful physical assault by SWP national organiser Martin Smith. Mark Fischer demands the setting up of a workers’ commission to investigate

On July 7, the second full day of Marxism, Socialist Workers Party national organiser Martin Smith physically assaulted comrade Simon, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Tower Hamlets branch of Respect.

Weekly Worker 11.7.2007.

Martin Smith is better known as Comrade ‘Delta’.

In 2010 a man called Martin Smith (“Comrade Delta”) was the National Secretary of the SWP, its day to day leader, the person who employs the other party workers. In July of that year, a 19 year old woman (“Comrade W”) complained that he had mistreated her. She didn’t use the word “rape”, but the people who met her and heard her knew what she was talking about.

More here.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

Some Political Background on Mark Wadsworth.

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Before beginning I wish to make it clear that I am completely opposed to the expulsion of Mark Wadsworth.

But this background has been the subject of intense discussion in recent days and should be more widely known rather than filtering through through other mediums.

How far this account is 100% accurate I do not know but I have some acquaintance with it – I was at the ANL (Anti Nazi league) demo cited below and had some contacts with the ARA  (Anti-Racist Alliance).

From: Ken and the rise of Socialist Action.

Andrew Hosken, Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone, Arcadia Books, 10 April 2008.

At the forefront of the campaign was the journalist and left-wing activist, Marc Wadsworth, who worked closely with John Ross to secure support for black sections from the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs. Ross promised to use his influence with the Campaign Group. ‘If the Campaign Group did not support black sections,’ wrote John Ross to Wadsworth in March 1986, ;this would lead to a problem between Socialist Action and the Campaign Group, not between Socialist Action and the black section. Support for the black section is a bedrock of politics’.[44] The Campaign Group did support Wadsworth[45] and despite Kinnock’s initial reluctance,[46] black sections under the umbrella of the Black Socialist Society were eventually recognised by the Labour Party in October 1990.[47]

In 1991, Marc Wadsworth set up the Anti-Racist Alliance, or ARA, an organisation which would be predominantly led by black people in the struggle against neo-Nazis and racism. The organisation acquired offices in Red Lion Square in Clerkenwell and soon secured the support of powerful trade unions like the Transport and General Workers Union. [48] Wadsworth approached John Ross for Socialist Action’s support for the new campaign. Wadsworth says: ‘I went way back with Socialist Action. Socialist Action not only supported the principle of self-organisation for black people’s campaigns but they also appeared at the time to support that much thornier issue of black leadership. We had white allies but we did it ourselves. Socialist Action appeared to us to be very good on principles very dear to our heart.’

Ross suggested appointing Ken Livingstone, as co-chairman of the ARA, a titular position only, leaving the bulk of the work with co-chair Leela Ramdeen. Eventually, approximately seven Socialist Action members were put on the executive committee, including some who later became Livingstone’s mayoral advisors.

The establishment of the ARA acted as a ‘provocation’ for Socialist Action’s main rivals on the Trotskyist far left, the ‘Socialist Workers Party, or SWP, which then decided to resurrect its own dormant anti-racism organisation, the Anti-Nazi League, or ANL. These two anti-racism organisations and the causes they espoused now became proxy warriors for two Trotskyist organisations – the SWP and Socialist Action – fighting to control this important campaign. Ken Livingstone went to extraordinary lengths to help join Socialist Action in its sectarian scraps with its main rival.

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The SWP/SA race war rapidly forced itself on the attention of the Socialist Campaign Group of hard left Labour MPs who had always strived to make links with their fellow travellers on the Left outside the PLP and were often perplexed by their uncomradely feuds. Tony Benn’s diaries make it clear that the spat was already an issue in early 1992. On 15 January 1992, Benn wrote that there had been a ‘flaming row between those who support the Anti-Nazi League in its recreated form’ and the Anti-Racist Alliance ‘supported by Ken Livingstone and the Black Sections’ adding: ‘It is absolutely absurd that there should be these arguments between anti-racist organizations. It is left-wing politics at its most ludicrous.’ [49]

At the annual general meeting of the Campaign Group a fortnight later, another row broke out between Bernie Grant, the black MP for Tottenham who supported the ANL, and Ken Livingstone when Wadsworth attempted to distribute an ARA leaflet. Grant tried to prevent distribution, at which point Livingstone stood up to leave saying, ‘I am leaving if this behaviour continues
 This is how Kinnock behaves. We have always been allowed to distribute literature.’ Benn observed, the ‘boiling hatred’ between the two groups, describing it as ‘so crazy’.[50] It perhaps was not that crazy when you realise the increasing importance that Trots placed on anti-racism politics. During the early 1980s, black people had been predominant among those rioting in Brixton, Toxteth and Bristol. Here was a large group of people possibly in need of leadership who really understood oppression and injustice.

The ARA highlighted what it claimed to be a rapid increase in the number of racially motivated attacks in Britain, from 4,383 in 1988 to 7,780 three years later. [51] But within two years the ARA would be destroyed in a nasty internal battle over campaigning strategy between Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action on one side and Marc Wadsworth and his supporters on the other. The trigger was the most infamous racial murder since the war.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black student, by a gang of white racists on 22 April 1993 was a shocking and seminal event. He was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack near a bus stop in Well Hall Road near Shooter’s Hill in southeast London. It later led to an inquiry by the judge Sir William Macpherson who strongly criticised the failure of detectives to bring the killers to justice and condemned ‘institutionalised racism’ within the Metropolitan Police. [52]

Marc Wadsworth, as national secretary of the ARA, contacted Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and played a significant role in bringing the tragedy to public attention. According to one BBC commentator later: Wadsworth was determined to present the Stephen Lawrence case differently, and to break through the indifference of the tabloid press towards black victims of racism’. Wadsworth highlighted the fact that Lawrence wanted to be an architect and that he had been law abiding, diligent and respectful. ‘We were saying to white society: “Stephen Lawrence was like you.” [53] Few people thought .it a coincidence that the bookshop-cum-headquarters of the far right British National Party were in Welling, not far from where Lawrence died.

Wadsworth says he came under increased pressure from the Socialist Action contingent to use the Lawrence couple more aggressively in the ARA campaigns: ‘They wanted complete control and the problem was how they were going to move that campaign along. Their primary aim was their sectarian battle with the SWP. They wanted to use the Lawrence campaign to trump the Anti-Nazi League.'[54] He says he told Socialist Action: ‘We’ve got to have a much more softly-softly approach to this couple. They’re not a pushover; not that I would want them to be. I’m black myself and a parent. You can’t just use them as pawns.’

Racial tensions increased during 1993 and culminated on 17 September 1993 in the shock victory of the British National Party a by-election cor- Millwall, a seat on Tower Hamlets Council in east London. The flash point came in October 1993 when the ANL and the ARA held rival protests on the same day. Wadsworth’s ‘crime’ was to organise a peaceful anti-racist demo of 3,500 people for 16 October 1993 in central London after police consultation while 12 miles away up to 15,000 people attended a violent ANL demo at the BNP’s bookshop. To make matters worse, Doreen Lawrence attended part of the ANL protest. [55]

It is clear that the Lawrence parents were becoming increasingly confused about being caught in the crossfire between the two groups. They had come to realise that the ANL was a ‘front for the Socialist Workers Party’. Writing later, Doreen Lawrence said,’… the various groups that had taken an interest in Stephen’s death were tearing each other apart and were in danger of destroying our campaign which we wanted to keep focused and dignified.'[56] In the end, Doreen and Neville Lawrence wrote to both the ANL and ARA to demand that they ‘stop using Stephen’s name’.[57]

  • (← p. 267)

Wadsworth claims that Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action now colluded to get rid of him because he would not do what they wanted, ‘Socialist Action thought they could impose decisions on me including how we focused on the Stephen Lawrence campaign,’ says Wadsworth. ‘When I refused to go along with that they said, OK we’re going to get rid of you.’ Through late 1993 and early 1994, the ARA deteriorated rapidly.

A former Socialist Action member of the ARA insists Wadsworth’s strategy was wrong, both in terms of the Lawrence campaign and towards the BNP by-election victory in the East End: “The correct response was to have a demo in the East End and Marc didn’t want to do that so he was increasingly separating himself out from the most important issues that were going on in racism in order to pursue his own things.’ [58] On 17 March 1994, Livingstone chaired a meeting of the ARA executive. [59] During the four-hour ‘rowdy meeting’ in a House of Commons office, Wadsworth threw a punch at Livingstone. He says: ‘It was at one of these crazy meetings where he was making these rulings and telling me to shut up that I launched at him. I didn’t actually hit him. I hit his hand. I was going to hit him. This had gone on for months and he treated me like a boy sitting next to him.’ [60] At another meeting, on 30 March 1994, Livingstone and the Socialist Action contingent failed by only one vote to persuade the executive to dismiss Wadsworth on grounds of professional misconduct. [61]

The infighting continued for another six months as Livingstone and Socialist Action attempted to wrest control from Wadsworth. On 23 September 1994, the Anti-Racist Alliance issued the foil towing statement: ‘Ken Livingstone, supported by a faction called Socialist Action and a handful of unprincipled and unrepresentative members of the executive committee, has been waging relentless campaign to sack the national secretary. This behaviour is undemocratic and has led to unnecessary divisions in the ARA which the chair has made even worse by his repealed attacks on national office staff.’ [62]

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‘When they come for you they are incessant and they are like pit bulls,’ Wadsworth says of Socialist Action. ‘It’s just incessant obsessive politicking.’

On 30 September 1994, Livingstone went to the High Court to determine voting rights for the delegates to the ARA’s forthcoming annual meeting and an out-of-court settlement was reached. At the meeting on 15 October 1994, both Livingstone and Wadsworth stepped down; Wadsworth gave way to Kumar Murshid, a future Livingstone mayoral advisor on race but not a member of Socialist Action. Murshid walked away from the job after turning up at the ARA offices to find that Wadsworth had changed the locks. ARA collapsed rapidly after unions including the Transport and General Workers Union withdrew support. By February 1995, the National Assembly Against Racism, or NAAR, had been established largely by Socialist Action members, namely Redmond O’Neill, Jude Woodward and Anne Kane. [63] Former member Atma Singh says that Socialist Action was so used to splits and sectarianism that ‘breaking one organisation and creating a new one is nothing dramatic for them’. [64] Lee Jasper, who became Livingstone’s senior mayoral policy advisor on equalities, was its first secretary. He had also been one of the few non-Socialist Action opponents of Wadsworth on the ARA.

Today, the NAAR is one of Britain’s biggest anti-racism groups with several subsidiary organisations, all supported strongly by Mayor Livingstone. Members of Socialist Action would continue to work closely with Livingstone throughout the 1990s. But they would come into their own when Livingstone became the first directly-elected mayor of London.

As Theresa May Sets out Hard Brexit Stall, Left Brexiters Want to Reform, not Oppose Her Plans.

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We have only to Wait for Him to Comment on UK Election Vote…..

The Daily Mail reports,

Tory manifesto will guarantee end of free movement, UK to leave single market and no more meddling by Euro judges as May issues her cast-iron Brexit pledges.

Theresa May will place a triple lock on Brexit in the Tory manifesto to stop obstruction by diehard Remainers. Tory sources say she is set to include specific pledges to overcome opposition within her party and in the Lords. The manifesto is expected to commit the Conservatives to ending EU free movement and pulling out of both the single market and European Court of Justice. Senior Tories see the three measures as essential in delivering last year’s referendum result.

Socialists should oppose these plans.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty speaks for a much wider constituency when they say,

Even on the basis of its existing policy, Labour could argue for opposition to the Tories’ Brexit plans, for defence of free movement and migrants’ rights, for remaining in the single market. We should fight for this. Otherwise Labour will go into the election echoing, or scarcely contesting, the Tories’ main message.

By contrast the remains of the Brexit left claim that they can reform these Brexit plans and harness them to their own ends.

Jeremy Corbyn must fight the election with socialist policies

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

Or so, instructs the Socialist Party (ex-Militant)

The SWP states,

To win a Brexit that serves the interests of the majority rather than the bosses means dumping the Tories.

Some of the Labour right would prefer the Tories to win than to see Corbyn in Downing Street. They will have to be pushed aside.

Socialist Worker helpfully reminds us,

“Moderation” is the enemy. Labour would be in a better position if it could raise slogans such as—“For the NHS, not Trident missiles”, “Chuck out the parasites, take over the banks”.

And the union leaders should be stepping up strikes and protests, not holding them back in the false belief that such resistance harms Labour.

We want Corbyn to win—but that means more struggle not less.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2017 at 11:47 am