Monday, 22 August 2016

Peace in our time

As Jeremy Corbyn stabs our allies in the back and the treacherous Galloway and his cronies head back to Labour I thought this little sketch from Peter Cook & John Cleese sums up Labour's defence policy. (Just substitute modern enemy of democracy of your choice for "Herr Hitler")

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Respect Party closes for buisness

Respect – The Unity Coalition logo.jpg

The Respect Party was founded in a blaze of publicity bt George Galloway, some Islamist politicos and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in 2004. Galloway became its first and last MP and a number of councillors were elected in areas with large Muslim populations such as Tower Hamlets, Bradford and part of Birmingham. They were joined by the sole SWP councillor in Preston.

The group was fraught with contradictions and infighting from the beginning, eventually leading to a very public spat and split as Galloway fell out with what his supporters called the "control freaks" of the SWP in 2007. Lyndsey German and John Rees led a new style "Respect" which despite getting support from the General Secretary of the PCS Union was never more than the SWP and it's supporters.

The SWP suffered an internal upheaval as leading members of their group, Keith Ovenden and Rob Hoveman stayed as bag carriers for Galloway. Eventually the SWP leadership fell out and the German/Rees faction left to form Counterfire, a tine group that has moved away from "Trotskyism" towards an odd mixture of pro-Islamic anti-imperialism and Stalinism influencing the anti-West Stop the War Coalition.

Galloway has lost his parliamentary seat and Respect was believed to have declined to just around 300 members. He wishes to rejoin Labour now that Corbyn is in control of the Labour Party, but would have difficulty in rejoining not just because he was a member of Respect and it's leader but also was originally expelled from Labour so only the NEC can now rule on his return.

In an almost unpublicised move Respect has voluntarily unregistered with the Electoral Commission which means it can no longer stand candidates and is effectively closing down. The reason for this is clear. Galloway and at least some of his supporters will want in on Corbyn's Labour Party.

Respect was one of the misnamed political organisation this country has ever seen (along with the StWC) with Galloway and his supporters trying to use use the "Muslim" community for it's own purposes causing much division wherever they operated.

Respect will not be missed and Galloway still has his lucrative media deals with Russian TV and others in the reactionary Islamic world. Unfortunately this dangerous demagogic politician will just not disappear.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Labour and Anti Semitism

Cross Post by Phil Burton-Cartledge from: All that is Solid

The following article was blocked from Facebook as it was considered "offensive". Considering some the material the company allow on their pages I have republished Phil's article in solidarity against censorship. This has also been posted on my Facebook page.

Like cat piss on your carpet, the stench comes back regardless of what you do to it. I'm talking, in this instance, about the Labour Party and anti-semitism. Despite an inquiry that issued clear guidelines and repeat condemnation by Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Momentum, and everyone associated with the party's leadership, it will not go away. So what is going on? As I've said on occasion, if you have recurring phenomena then we're talking about social relationships, not something that can be put down to individual oddities. And, to note, just because it has become a factional football doesn't mean anti-semitism is not important or isn't happening. It is. Where then does Labour's issue with anti-semitism come from?

What the party isn't is institutionally anti-semitic, in the sense it structurally discriminates and disadvantages members from a Jewish background. In fact, the argument can be turned on its head and the case made it's institutionally anti-anti-semitic, in the same way it is also institutionally anti-sexist and anti-racist. Before anyone rolls their eyes and gets a letter from compliance for it, this isn't the same as saying sexism and racism aren't problems in the Labour Party. Rather it is the banal observation that because of work done by previous and current generations of women and BME comrades, formally the party is against chauvinism and racism. Members can and do have action taken against them for making these unwelcome views known and engaging in unacceptable behaviour. And the party tries to overcome the legacies of sexism and racism through the use of shortlists, diversity training, and so on. That said, because Labour is a mass party and not an ideologically pure sect, its membership has, to greater and lesser degrees, the tendency to reflect the attitudes and prejudices of the constituency it reflects. If you like, the institutionalisation of progressive attitudes and the activists that uphold them are in a ceaseless battle against what we might euphemistically term "unreconstructed" views constantly being fed into the party from its relationship with wider society.

However, this can explain why racism and sexism remain party problems but it does not account for anti-semitism. While there have been spikes of anti-semitism over the years, it hasn't had a mass base or following in British society since the 1930s. What is it about the Labour Party now that is attracting anti-semites in disproportionate numbers and to the Corbyn campaign in particular? I think it's down to a mix of naivete, stupidity, and in a number of cases, hardcore racism.

Dealing with the first, Jeremy Corbyn has a long record of anti-war activity. His 33 years in Parliament have seen him take up the cudgels against British foreign policy, whether it was popular or politic or not. Similarly, he has never hidden his criticisms of US and Israeli policies in the Middle East either. Unfortunately, this kind of stance often comes with astudied silence about the countries and organisations at the receiving end of Western bombs and, in some cases, de facto united fronts with outright supporters of these regimes/outfits. These characters can be most unsavoury. You could say that some folks who are especially active in anti-war work are a little care free when it comes to associating with people who, on the one issue of opposing such-and-such a conflict, there is a shared position. And so where opposition to the criminal policies of the Israeli state are concerned, you might find people in this milieu, especially those new to it, getting rather over-enthusiastic in their denunciation of Israel's actions. They might bang on about Zionists and Zionism, might shout off about "Zios", and make clumsy, inappropriate, and offensive comparisons between the Nazis and the Holocaust and Israel and the occupation. And they do it because too few within this milieu actively challenge it. So as Jeremy has risen to prominence, this sort of clumsiness has been imported into the Labour Party and become more visible than has hitherto been the case. Something I've been worried about for a while.

Overlapping with this is an anti-establishment politics at its most basic and primitive: conspiracy theorists. If porn is the main contribution the internet has made to popular culture, opening mass audiences to the idiocies of conspiracy theorising comes in a close second. You can understand the cognitive basis for these views. The world is a complex scary mess with clear winners and losers, and can appear as if a shadowy elite has it all under their thumb. It's not. There is no one at the helm, and not even being the richest nation with the most powerful military the world can impose its will at will on the world, or defy the head winds of global economic turbulence. Conspiracies then are comforting because there's a weird form of security knowing someone's in charge, and that you stand out from the herd because your keen brain has connected the dots and cut through the bullshit. After the September 11th attacks, the conspiranoid 9/11 Truth Movement were an identifiable, anti-war trend that not only peddled nonsense about remote controlled airliners and buildings pre-packed with demolition charges, but fanned the flames of anti-semitic conspiracy theorising. It was a false flag operation run by Mossad, or Jewish employees were warned to stay away from the Twin Towers on the morning of the attack being two choice examples. The problem is this sort of thinking never disappeared. It scooped up gullible adherents here and there and continued to fester on email lists, forums, and Facebook groups. And so, just like the "careless" people this variegated bunch have also joined up and used their conspiranoia to make sense of Labour's faction fight. The links between some Labour MPs and Israel via Labour Friends of Israel are "proof" they are taking orders from Tel Aviv. Some are associated with very rich people, who happen to be Jewish, and, of course, because some sitting MPs helped save the banking system from collapse they're in the pay of the Rothschilds. These entirely unwelcome elements, again, aren't drawn to Jeremy because he's one of them, but rather in the terms of their anti-semitic conspiracy theology, it's him versus the Zionist lobby and therefore deserves their support.

These people are badly mistaken and seriously deluded, and I would say there are a portion of them who don't even realise they're being anti-semitic. But on those occasions it happens time and again, and despite it being pointed out to some of them carry on willy-nilly, then they have passed over into outright racism.

And this brings me to the third kind, those that really do have anti-semitic issues. It doesn't matter how they arrived at this perspective, the fact is they single out Jews and attribute all kinds of social problems to them. Classic scapegoating, classic racism. Wherever they are found they should be turfed out of the party, no ifs, no buts. However, while these people do undoubtedly exist, are there others at it? While anti-semitism in wider society is diminished, there are still enough people miles away from left wing politics with axes to grind. Grabbing a Momentum twibbon and using the furore around Labour anti-semitism to vent their bilge is easy enough to do. And then there are obvious troll accounts like this and this operated by folks unknown to keep those flames fanned. Imagine being an opponent of Jeremy Corbyn and cynically using racist abuse to "prove" his support is anti-semitic. Is that the mindset of someone you'd wish to be associated with? Do you think that sort of person should have a place in the Labour Party?

I am glad that most people in our movement have woken up to anti-semitism, and I hope wherever comrades find it a swift complaint to follows in short order. Anti-semitism is not just the socialism of fools, as August Bebel put it, but is the very antithesis of a politics founded on solidarity and collective action. It's in all our interests to be on our guard against it, and attack it wherever and whenever we can.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Owen Smith drives final nail in Labour's coffin

Photo: By Nabokov

When the leadership election led to the opening of new, slightly more expensive options of getting a vote in the process for a while I considered signing up. Then came Owen Smith. I was not impressed and decided against joining.

Given the recent court decision not to allow this group a vote it's a moot point really.

However given Owen Smiths comments (backtracked or not) that ISIS should be negotiated with it's clear to me I made the right decision.

Corbyn is a fool and so is Smith it seems. The end of the Labour Party as we know it is at hand.

ISIS are just like the Nazi's. Committing genocide against Yazadi's, Christians and even other types of Muslims.

There can be no negotiation. ISIS cannot be left in control of anywhere as these areas will be nothing but concentration camps. We did not negotiate with the Nazi's we cannot do so with ISIS. They just have to be destroyed. By any means necessary.

It's no surprise that the latest poll in the Standard shows Theresa May has more support than Jeremy Corbyn amongst Labour voters. As Nick Cohen put it on Facebook tonight, Corbyn would lose even if only Labour voters had the vote.

And Smith is no better. He was frankly a non-entity who came out of nowhere because those that could lead the party have stayed behind the lines as the Corbynistas wreck what's left of their party.

The infighting will not end when Corbyn inevitably wins the leadership election. Momentum are already preparing for the next stage of their takeover and have organised a 4 day "event" that will take place parallel to the Labour Party conference which has been endorsed by Corbyn himself.

The only hope for the future would be a new party but such a "nuclear" option is fraught with difficulties and is far from certain to be a success. the SDP failed but times are changing. A space is growing for a new centre/left party but the will to create this does not yet exist.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The end of Mr & Mrs?

Whilst the majority of people are comfortable in their genders there are around 1 in 10,000 people who can be described as transexual or other. That's around 0.01% of the population. Awareness of the difficulties such people face in society there has been a growing movement to defend their rights. Absolutely right. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable about themselves by bigots and the like.

However like many worthy causes sometimes the desire to end discrimination can in itself lead down the wrong road.

The Oxford Mail reports:

A panel of councillors said official forms should include the gender-neutral option of 'Mx' – pronounced like 'mix' – and that honorifics could be phased out completely from documents in the future.

Now there is no problem with allowing for the use of Mx (pronounced "mix") in the same way the use of Ms has become widely accepted, but why abolish "Mr &Mrs"? That's not being "inclusive" at all. I would imagine that the vast majority of people myself included are quite happy with such a prefix and would prefer to continue using it.

You don't fight discrimination by trampling on other people's rights and such measures could cause a backlash. Use Ms, Mx by all means but allow the rest of us a choice too.

Besides what would you call this wonderful old programme?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Lawyers misusing the law

It's hard enough being a soldier on the front-line fighting for your country. Even more so when a bunch of quisling shysters come after you with claims of abuse. The Times reported today that:

A law firm accused of making false claims against British troops in Iraq is to close at the end of the month.

Public Interest Lawyers run by Phil Shiner was stripped of it's contract to undertake state funded cases. The Legal Aid Agency, the body that oversees funding said it was " clear that the breach with (the firms) contract are proven and warrant investigation.

Worse still:

Mr Shiner, a solicitor described as "the "scourge of the army" faces allegations that he accepted illegal payments for cases brought against British soldiers.

Apparently this band of lawyers, I mean vultures has some 1500 cases on it's books lodged by Iraqi & Afghan citizens all out to make a buck.

It cost £23 Million pounds to fund an enquiry into all this. Those involved in this firm must be brought to account and the money recovered.

One soldier at least is considering suing Shiner. All those should do it and not forget the others involved in this dreadful firm.

None of this comes as a surprise. Some years ago I visited the Home Office in Croydon on union business and was appalled to see dodgy solicitors drumming up business from those seeking asylum so that could also get their pund of flesh from the taxpayer.

This brings me to the rather old story that The Times chose to run on it's front page today about those caught by immigration who subsequently apply for Asylum after years of living here illegally. It's no wonder that there is so much hostility amongst the general public to high levels of immigration when they see so many of these people get allowed to stay.

Asylum should be applied for on entry to the UK. Retrospective applications from illegal immigrants should not be accepted. But you can bet there's a whole industry of lawyers making a buck out of this.

Then there is the seeming inability to deport criminals and others who should not be here on bogus human rights grounds used by criminals who commit crimes here.

Most people do not think this is right and it clearly isn't.

The legal profession and the system they exploit needs reform.

The lawyers are only in it for the money.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Tom Watson Deputy Labour Leader on Entryism by the AWL

The following post is taken from Tom Watson on Facebook in which he illustrates one example of a Trotskyist group entering the Labour Party. There are of course others and even the old Militant Tendency is trying to get back in.

There are others who used to belong to the various sects including the Left Unity Party who are not exactly "Trotskyists" but should also be treated in the same way.

Crisis of the French Section (1935-36)

In recent days an increasing number of people have made the false claim that I labelled all our new joiners as "trotskyists". This is not true.

The quote "old hands twist young arms" derives from an interview I did with the Guardian where I raised concerns that trotskyist organisations were targeting our young members. Incidentally, I also raised the issue of returning to shadow cabinet elections - which in my view is imperative whoever wins the leadership. It's probably the only way a front bench can be reassembled and united.

My claim about groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty is evidenced with publicly available information, if people care to look. Some might not like me saying these things but I'm not making this stuff up, as others have claimed.

If you do want to look at the facts, there are more details below.

At the Alliance for Workers' Liberty conference on 21-22 November 2015, two months after the AWL was de-registered by the Electoral Commission, the group adopted three documents, entitled:

1.After the Corbyn Surge
2.The Next 12 Months
3.Student Activity 2015-16

These three documents outline a concerted strategy for members of the AWL to infiltrate (or, to use the language of the documents, "intervene") in the Labour Party with the explicit intention of influencing the party to indoctrinate “more people of revolutionary socialist ideas," "advance and transform the wider labour movement" and to focus "on drawing in, organising, propagandising among, and recruiting among, the new people (especially the new young people) mobilised by the Corbyn surge."

The reference in the above to "young people" is instructive, given that the document 'Student Activity 2015-16' outlines a specific plan to infiltrate university Labour Clubs to revolutionary socialist politics, with the aim of "organis[ing] and politically hegomon[ising] these people,". The document 'After the Corbyn Surge' spells out this priority - "youth work is particularly important for renewing the movement and for convincing a new generation of socialists."

These documents clearly demonstrate a concerted effort by AWL to gain influence within local parties and student groups, to "consolidate leftwing victories" by "winning officer roles and policy votes," to "break the right [of the Labour Party, defined by the fringe left as anybody who does not share their politics wholesale] quickly" and engage in local parties by "circulat[ing] motions, blogposts and literature." Going further, the adopted platform of the AWL as of November 2015 was that "all AWL members should be members of the Labour Party unless specifically agreed; doing Labour Party work of some kind should be the norm," "in every area and at every level.”

This campaign continues - the July 2016 issue of the AWL’s newspaper Solidarity splashes the headline ‘Flood the Labour Party’ with a call for members to step up their infiltration (or “intervention”) into the party.

The group's platform calls for Labour councils, like the one in Brighton & Hove, to "refuse to implement cuts" - that is, to set illegal budgets that would bring Tory-run DCLG bureaucrats into city hall to run the city and the deselection of MPs.