SWP: another twist in their continuing crisis
The continuing saga of "comrade delta" has taken a bizarre turn as the Socialist Workers Party have apparently "re-opened" the case and decided that he "has a case to answer" and that he had behaved "inappropriately". This decision beggars belief after all that has happened.
The SWP have virtually destroyed themselves over the past year in an effort to save Martin Smith, and it seems only now that he has buggered off out of the SWP and is no longer a member that they finally, maybe, see that the issue should never have been swept under the carpet by the Professor and his "lynch mob".
The SWP have declined to less than a thousand members, half of whom appear to be organised in some kind of open opposition to their "Central Committee", lost almost their entire student membership, seen their Marxism festival boycotted by most left wing academics and turn into an almost total washout, lost what little credibility they had even on the far-left and become a total pariah amongst women activists.
All for one quite unsavoury individual.
Whether they survive much longer with yet another national Conference on the horizon is a matter of conjecture, but as far as I can see the party is over comrades.
Time to join the other useless sects in the dustbin of history.
Racism & Fascism
Anti-Semitism & the BDS in South Africa
Last weekend I cross posted an article from Harry's Place by Sarah AB on the chanting of "death to the Jews" by some of the supporters of BDS in South Africa. Sarah has produced an update on this disturbing development at Engage in which she examines the response of Heidi-Jane Esakov one of the BDS activists at Wits University who writes:
“Of course we recognise that there are those who use the Palestinian struggle as a way to camouflage their anti-Semitism, and this needs to be dealt with unequivocally. Not because it is bad for the movement, but because, fundamentally, anti-Semitism should never be tolerated.”
So far so good, but then goes on to say:
Those of us who support the struggle for Palestinian freedom and justice constantly find ourselves up against attempts to conflate challenges against Zionism and Israeli policies with anti-Semitism. These accusations are an attempt to silence criticism, and dangerously distract from real acts and expressions of anti-Semitism.
Not so good. Having seen the nonsense produced by the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign (see post below I remain more than concerned about the motives of so-called anti-Zionists. After all their former Chairperson was expelled from the PSC for being a Holocaust denier.
EDL leader arrested...again
The BBC reports that following the EDL march in Southwark yesterday, Tommy Robinson their Fuhrer, was arrested
English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson has been arrested as about 500 supporters of the far-right group held a march in east London.
About 3,000 officers were deployed as the group walked from Queen Elizabeth Street, over Tower Bridge, to Aldgate.
Police said 14 people, mainly from the EDL, were arrested for public order offences during the march.An EDL tweet stated that he had been arrested for incitement.
New union formed
Earlier this year I reported on the mass resignations of PCS members in the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Since then a new union has been established, The National Crime Officers Association (NCOA) which has now been recognised by the employer and is registered with the Trade Union Certification Office.
The NCOA is currently in the process of setting up its full time apparatus and is participating in multi-trade union side activities. Further information to follow at a later date.
Religion & human rights
Threats to free speech
Recently Nahla Mahmoud, a member of the Council of ex-Muslims appeared on Channel 4 criticising Sharia Law. As a result she has received threats. Anne Marie Waters took up the story on Standpoint :
Nahla is a 26 year old Sudanese student who came to Britain in 2010 to escape what she describes as the "hell" of living as an atheist woman in an Islamic state. Following an appearance on Channel 4's 4Thought programme, where she described her shock at discovering the proliferation of Islamic sharia law here in the UK, Nahla was threatened and her family abused. The response she received to her complaints would demonstrate to Nahla what I and many others have long known: if you criticise Islam, you've got to be prepared for the fall-out.
It was in January of this year that the remarks about Nahla first began to appear online. Mr Salah Al-Bandar, director of the Sudan Civic Foundation, posted an article in Arabic on the Sudanese Online website — a site widely read both in Sudan and among its diaspora — denouncing Nahla as a "kafira" who had started a "battle against Islam and the beliefs of the people". He went on to say he would "never have any mercy on her here". Anyone who knows anything about this kind of Islamist ideology knows that this constitutes a threat; in most Islamic states, insulting Islam carries the death penalty. This did not end with words; Nahla's brother in Sudan has been physically attacked, and her mother threatened.
This situation is dire enough, and Nahla's story is rightly receiving coverage but what is not being discussed as it should be is the response, or lack of it, from the police and the Liberal Democrats.
Let's start with the Lib Dems. Following a complaint to the chair of Cambridge branch of the party, an investigation was undertaken. Mr Al-Bandar received a letter requesting his side of the story, which he promptly supplied. In it, he argued that he had been fighting such behaviour (i.e. threats) throughout his political life; he wrote at length about his history of support for women's rights, freedom of thought, and "empowering disadvantaged communities". On the screen-shots containing his threats to Nahla, he had nothing to say except "that it bears no relation to the truth". He did not explain how the Facebook postings came in to being. He simply repeated "I am wonderful" and this was deemed to be enough. Not only enough, but according to Hagard, Al Bandar was now even more wonderful than previously thought. Nahla was dismissed.
With support from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain Nahla also took her complaint to the police. The investigation has since been closed; it is unclear why. They did offer to speak to Mr Al-Bandar but with a warned Nahla that "you may just make him angrier". Would the police give the same response to a woman complaining of Islamophobic threats? I very much doubt it. On the question of whether threats to an ex-Muslim constitute a hate crime, the police told Nahla that this was a "grey area" and thus best left alone.
As someone who has also received threats for my criticisms of Islam, and had my complaints dismissed — "what did you expect?" — I am fully aware of the prevalence of such responses. A friend recently suggested to me that the police are in effect enforcing sharia law by stealth. This is no as ridiculous as it sounds. In Islamic societies, insults to Islam can result in death. One way or another, one is highly likely to be severely punished. The police in this case gave a strong message to Nahla, and to anyone else who might be tempted to commit the heinous offence of criticising or dismissing the religion of Islam: you'll be punished, we won't help, and you probably deserve it anyway.An update can be found here.