Thursday, 18 October 2018

Lansman, the JVL and the CPGB (Weekly Worker)

Jewish Voice for Labour.jpg
Image: By Source, Fair use

An astonishing but useful insight into the thinking of Momentum's leadership appeared in the Jewish Chronicle yesterday:

Jon Lansman, the architect of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to power, thinks the “very existence” of pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour group is inflaming tensions between Labour and the Jewish community, sources have said.

A senior figure in left-wing campaign group Momentum said that its founder, Jon Lansman, believed it is problematic that senior JVL figures claim to speak for the entire community but actually only reflect the views of a small faction of anti-Zionist Jews.

The source also told the JC that Mr Lansman felt it was entirely wrong for leading JVL figures to suggest that their organisation deserves equal recognition from Labour, on a par with the bigger, more established Jewish Labour Movement.
That there is no love left between Lansman and the JVL miscreants is not new. Tony Greenstein and Jackie walker split from Momentum a while back when they did not get their way originally establishing a "Grassroots momentum" which has disappeared and been replaced with the Jewish Voice for Labour groupscule to back Corbyn and cause mischief with the mainstream Jewish community.
There is little support left for the Labour Party in the wider Jewish community other than in the form of the long running Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) that has been an affiliate of Labour for decades.
Labour against the witch-hunt
It's not just the JVL that causes problems. The Communist Party of Great Britain's (Weekly Worker) front organisation Labour Against the Witch Hunt which has overlapping memberships and ties.  Greenstein is a regular writer in the pages of the Weekly Worker and of course is himself protesting about his suspension from the Labour Party. His preferred subject is of course Zionism. This self-obsessed individual presents himself as the expert on this field of course.
LAW also seem to have a problem with Jewish concerns about Labour. When the JLM started to monitor anti-Semitism in the Labour Party the comrades dismissed these concerns in no uncertain terms:
We call on all Labour Party members to stay well clear of the Jewish Labour Movement’s latest stunt. The JLM, which is the sister party of the Zionist Labor Party in Israel, has written to CLP secretaries, asking them to distribute their “survey” on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to all local members. Many CLP secretaries have quite rightly moved this email directly into their Spam folder. If you have been unfortunate enough to have received the email, we urge you to do the same.

Of course even Corbyn and McDonnell have admitted to the existence of anti-Semitism in their party despite the fact neither of them will do much about it. No other ethnic group would have their worries dismissed so lightly. The outlook of LAW is effectively racist. Our concerns are of no importance whatsoever to them.
Of course LAW is full of entryists from the CPGB (Weekly Worker) a tiny group of around 50 or so individuals who have tried burying themselves in all sorts of organisations from the Socialist Alliance in the early 2000's to the more recent, now failed Left Unity Party project launched by Ken Loach.
LPM 21-web-1
The group present themselves as the Labour Party Marxists who just happen to hold joint "educationals" with the CPGB!  Members of the LPM and some of LAW are in breach of Labour Party rules but it's unlikely anyone will bother to act. The CPGB mob also cause disruption amongst other left-groups hiding inside the Labour Party.
However despite all this Momentum, the CLPD LRC/Labour Breifing & JVL crowd have come together to form a united slate. The JVL write:
We are delighted to report that the existing diffrences between Momentum and a number of other campaigning groups have been resolved.

The united slate of candidates below is currently backed by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), Labour Briefing Co-op, Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (LCND) and Momentum.

At the end of the day no matter what Lansman may say (and it needs to be remembered he's no friend of ours) for pragmatic reasons his organisation Momentum is at the end of the day a danger not just to our community like the other groups but also a threat to democracy.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Reading The Left Press So You Don't Have to!

The Socialist issue 1014

The most important task for the Socialist Party (Militant) is to ensure that it's boy Chris Baugh currently Assistant General Secretary of the PCS Union gets nominated and re-elected. He has an uphill task despite being in the post for a decade.

Marion Lloyd one of the Militants on the PCS NEC writes:

Meetings to agree nominations and motions are taking place until 26 October. These will be followed by voting meetings during November, culminating in the national Left Unity conference on 1 December.

A key issue will be who the Left Unity candidate is for the union's assistant general secretary (AGS).

Socialist Party member Chris Baugh is up for re-election. He has been the Left Unity candidate on three successive occasions since 2004, and won the union's election each time.

Chris is being challenged by Janice Godrich, the union's president. This challenge was started and is actively supported by the general secretary, Mark Serwotka, supposedly because of personal dislike and alleged inability to work with Chris.

As the rival PCS Independent Left puts it:

What we have is court politics where the King has fallen out with one of his nobles and there is battle to replace the rebel courtier.

Meanwhile the SP are making sure that Baugh is getting a high profile while this all goes on. The Socialist reports that:

Up to 2,000 marched in London against the far-right Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) on 13 October. Socialist Party members took part in the counter-demonstration where PCS assistant general secretary and Socialist Party member Chris Baugh was one of the speakers.

Whether the Socialist Party will break ranks with the rest of the PCS left and run Baugh against Janice Godrich if he loses remains to be seen. It is certain that Janice will. She has the backing of PCS head honcho Mark Serwotka and he wants rid of the troublesome Baugh.

Front cover for issue 2626

Meanwhile as people prepare to march against Brexit in Central London  they will be happy to know that sellers of the Socialist Worker are for Brexit and won't be pestering them to buy a copy.

The SWP are using one of their front organisations Stand Up to Racism is holding an "International Conference" this weekend. The comrades write:

...a long-term task that has to unite anti-racists whether they are in the Labour Party, the revolutionary left, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the trade unions or have no party. This cannot be left to a Labour Party that has a terrible record of conceding to racism and implementing racist laws.

Now the latter part of that statement is absolutely true. Labour does have a racism problem as an elderly Jewish woman and others found out last night in the heart of Jeremy Corbyn's constituency when they were assaulted outside a meeting defending Corbyn and the Labour Party against racist accusations. Not sure that's what the SWP means but anti-Semitism is rife on the Labour left.

"We are facing the biggest rise in support for fascism, racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism since the 1930s."
Speakers include John McDonell MP who shared a platform with Jenny Manson from which Jews were excluded, Lyndsey German who was a speaker at last nights event in North London. (I have asked her for comments but have yet to receive a reply). Someone from the Muslim Council of Britain which is really a window dressed Muslim Brotherhood banned in so many Arab countries and laughingly someone from the Unite Against Racism organisation which like the SUTR is a front for the SWP.

There are some legitimate speakers such as Gerry Gable of Searchlight magazine but David Rosenberg of the tiny Jewish Socialists Group is hardly representative of the Jewish Community. All this is in order to build a demonstration on November 17th.

It'll be strange beyond belief to see racists of the left marching against themselves....


Meanwhile the sole group on the far-left that actually opposes anti-Semitism, the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL) has been holding meetings around the country and in an overview Ira Berkovic writes in their newspaper Solidarity:

The aim of the meetings, however, has not merely been to provide a space for debate but to convince comrades of a particular view: that antisemitism does exist on the left, and in a specific and distinct form, and that the way to uproot it is to replace the conspiracist form of anti-Zionism that currently predominates on much of the far left with a consistently democratic policy that upholds the equal right of all peoples to self-determination.

If only there were more like the AWL on the left.

Pakistan is a Sharia Prison

Cartoon from:

Freedom of speech and expression is constantly under attack whether it be in Russia under Putin, China under Xi Jinping or Pakistan under Imran Khan. With the first two it's all about power with the latter it's also about power but with the pretence of victim-hood. The cry of being offended and the issuing of death threats is part and parcel of so much of the Islamic world.

As Islamists murder Christian teachers in Kenya and another is on death row in Pakistan we are expected to believe Islam is the victim when the intolerance and violence of the Islamists is so widespread and the "moderates" remain silent lest they be the next victims as bloggers have discovered in Bangladesh where so many have been murdered for simply expressing a point of view.

First there was the Satanic Verses a controversy artificially kicked up by the mad Ayatollah Khomeini as part of a strategy to spread his evil influence in the Muslim world, then there were the Danish Cartoonists and finally there was the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdoe. I have a copy of the edition of that newspaper to remind me that religious intolerance has become murder. 

Now Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to go to the United Nations to "stop all cartoons of Mohammed". 51 Muslim nations have already attempted to make so-called "blasphemy" a world wide crime. On both counts their suppression of free thought must be opposed. We cannot allow these backward thinking bigots to interfere in our society's freedoms.

Rather we should campaign for the separation of religion and the state everywhere.  No religion should be forced down anyone's throat. 

Pakistan is nothing more than a giant Sharia prison as anyone who is not a Muslim can attest to. Under the pressure of self interested and deranged clerics there is a demand that non-Muslims abroad should face the same punishments Muslims do for offending their religion.

Never should that be allowed to happen. Stand up to the Islamists and their left-wing allies!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Sixty Years of Blue Peter! Down Shep!

Photo: By RockingSummer

There are two programmes from the sixties that used to be essential viewing. The first was Doctor Who of which I recall seeing the first episode of at the age of 7 and have followed the good Doctor to this day. The other programme that we tuned into as a family was Blue Peter.

I don't recall when I started watching this but at tea time twice a week it was always on with mum and dad watching this as avidly as I did. The first presenting team I remember was Christopher Tracey with Valerie Singleton and then John Noakes. Peter Purves came a little later.

This programme had started broadcasting in 1958 before my memory (I was!) and has continued to this day though sadly sidelined onto the BBC children's Channel CBBC. It's viewing figures have dropped which is sad but I haven't watched it in years but will tonight for their anniversary programme.

Pity they don't bring it back to BBC 1 prime time to be the family show it was always meant to be!

There were times when both my favourite shows overlapped as this clip wonderfully illustrates:

I always remember John Noakes now sadly departed taking risks that scared the pants off both me and everyone else who watched. Up chimneys and Nelson's Column years before 'elf & safety really kicked in....

Then there was the Blue Peter garden (once vandalised) and their time capsule!

Along came Leslie Judd and  I gradually grew out of the programme simply because I was never home at the right time due to college and other commitments.

Any readers get a Blue Peter Badge?

BBC website: Blue Peter

CBBC: Today at 5:00 (27 past presenters!)

BBC Radio 2 has a celebration at 9PM this evening. 

Pity they don't bring it back to BBC 1 prime time to be the family show it was always meant to be!

Monday, 15 October 2018

Book Review: Contemporary Trotskyism - John Kelly

Contemporary Trotskyism: Parties Sects and Social Movements in Britain - John Kelly (Routledge) Paperback £23.99

"They have made a fetish of democratic principles. They have placed the workers' right to elect representatives above the party. As if the party were not entitled to assert its dictatorship even if that dictatorship temporarily clashed with the passing moods of the workers democracy."

And so spoke Leon Trotsky at the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communists Party Congress as he attacked the Workers Opposition.  The same man who sent the Red Army to crush the Kronsdadt sailors who rebelled against the authoritarian dictatorship being established by the Bolsheviks. Later Trotsky himself became the victim of "the party" as Stalin turned against him and his Left Opposition ending in exile and then murder in 1940.

Trotsky despite all his obvious faults was a great orator and polemicist renowned for his literary style. Never able to work as part of a team (one of the contributory factors leading to his downfall) the Trotskyist movement that arose out of his later work and the establishing of the Fourth International in 1938 has always suffered from factionalism and splits since its foundation.

This particular history of Trotskyism is of great interest to me as for many years up until the age of 30 or thereabouts I was either influenced by or participating in Trotskyist politics and organisations. In around 1981/2 I joined the Socialist League which was infiltrating the Labour Party (of which I was already a member). The League had been better known as the International Marxist Group "led" by Tariq Ali who had gone by that time. We all had to use "party names" for Internal Bulletins. Amusingly I discovered Tariq had used the moniker "Howard".

The SL/IMG was an affiliate of the grandly named United Secretariat of the Fourth International the largest of the organisations claiming to be the continuation of Trotsky's Fourth International. In fact the IMG paper Red Weekly was the first Trotskyist paper I ever came across when a student at tech back in 1974. The second was Workers Press a daily paper produced by the Workers Revolutionary Party and occasionally on sale outside the college.

Image result for workers press newspaper Image result for militant newspaper

When first attending demonstrations I was amazed at the number of different paper s or magazines on sale all claiming to be "Trotskyist" and returned home with copies of Socialist Worker, Socialist Press, Militant, and Workers Power or was it Workers Fight? Difficult to remember now. There were others and some anarchist and Maoist publications as well but none interested me as much as the Trot papers.

It is with this in mind that I picked up this book as it covered the years I was active in  Trotskyist politics only finally leaving when the Berlin Wall came down and Socialist Worker said this was an "opportunity to show workers what Marxism really was". Unreal. I thought to myself why would people who have been oppressed under the rule of Stalinism want to sign up to something just the same.

Although I threw myself into the Green Party and away from Trotskyism and Marxism this was a difficult action for me to take. It was only the sudden lurch of the Greens to the left that threw me into the political mainstream though I have not belonged to a political party since 1992 and concentrated on trade union work ending up fighting the far-left that I had broken from in the civil service unions SCPS and PCS for over two decades.

Trotskyism is resilient and many groups  still exist though Corbynism has stolen their thunder for now. The two biggest groups the SWP and the Socialist Party (Militant) the largest of the groups from that milieu have ossified outside of Labour. The SWP has barely recovered from a rape scandal and Labour continues to reject advances from the old Militant Tendency.

John Kelly examines the Trotskyist movement in the UK in some detail including background material on Trotsky and pre-seventies groups to concentrate on the period 1970 to the present day well 2017 to be precise.  he covers the politics, sectarianism and influence that these groups have had on wider British politics through "fronting movements".

The Anti-Nazi League owed it's existence to the SWP, The Anti-Poll Tax Movement to Militant and Stop the War Campaign to the SWP and Counterfire. A lot of smaller less known movements could not have existed without the input of Trotskyist politics.

There are still around 20 or so "Trotskyist  groups in the UK ranging from the largest, the SWP which claims 5,000 plus members which no one believes. More likely between 2- 2,500 these days following several recent splits, to the smallest believed to be the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency in Britain which  has more words than members numbering just two. Alongside them are the "Lambertistes" (don't ask) who likewise number just two.

Logo of the Fourth International

Then there are the Fourth Internationals. Kelly asserts that there are Trotskyists in 51 countries. Actually I think there's more but he identifies 23 "Fourth Internationals" which is more than I knew of but some have no group in the UK. There is believe it or not a "Fifth International " represented by the Workers Power group in the UK who organise under the Red Flag label inside the Labour Party. There perhaps 30 of them.

This is a worthy volume for anyone remotely interested in "Trot spotting" and fun for reminiscing for the biggest Trotskyist movement of all those who gave up and left to get a real life. An interesting experience but I for one was hopeless at "toeing the party line" and was always critical of Trotsky's actions over Krondstadt and grew to realise his opposition to internal and external democracy would lead to a form of Stalinism.

All Trotskyist groups have this almost religious sect fervour and the author does compare these groups to religious ones. He has a point. They all have their Icons and "holy texts". Trotsky was the latest "Messiah" and his disciples multiplied through the fifties sixties and seventies. Gerry Healy WRP), Tony Cliff (Yagel Gluckstein) (SWP), Ted Grant (MIlitant/Socialist Appeal), Sean Matgamna (Socialist Organiser/AWL) among them.

There are those that have left such as Tariq Ali (IMG), Frank Furedi (RCP now Spiked!) and countless others around the world.

None of these people have ever led a revolution except Trotsky himself and that was really a coup  d'etat.  Undoubtedly  Trotskyist groups will continue to pop up split, fuse or give up in the future and will be around to "pick up the pieces when the Corbyn project collapses and fails. But that is a story yet to come.

For now read the story of what has been and consider why Trotskyism has attracted so many and disillusioned even more over the years.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Socialist Equality Party but not for Jews?

Socialist Equality Party

One of the smaller groups that came out of the implosion of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the mid-eighties is the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) led by the Hyman clan. Originally called the International Communist Party they aligned themselves with a new guru David North of the US based Workers League.

The crisis erupted after Eileen Jennings, Gerry Healy's long term secretary wrote a letter exposing his abuse of women and young socialists in the party. Combined with a financial crisis the whole group imploded into several different factions and all of a sudden there were (for a while at least) two daily newspapers called the News Line

Whilst the general joke on the left was the WRP split to "double the sales of the News Line" there were serious matters involved. The WRP had long been considered a dagerous sect by all the other far-left groups and had developed a wee bit of a reputation for violence both outside and inside it's ranks. The sexual abuse scandal was something elese and finally pulled the WRP apart.

Healy had his backers including  Vanessa & Corin Redgrave. He died in 1989 and the Redgraves finally went their own way. Out of this mire several groups emerged some long gone and others still plaguing the political scene. Socialist Fight led by Gerry Downing  which has been exposed for what it is and the Socialist Equality Party which is believed to have around 50 or so members.

Like the WRP was the SEP remains heavily "anti-Zionist". They write:

Recent weeks have seen the acceleration of a campaign by the right-wing of the British Labour party to paint Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, in hopes of driving him from his position as leader of the party.

In its scale and ferocity, these efforts have all the hallmarks of a destabilisation campaign involving MI5 in the UK, Mossad in Israel and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States...

Lying accusations of anti-Semitism, endlessly repeated since the failed 2016 leadership putsch by Labour’s right wing, provide the noose with which Corbyn is to be hung. But the goal of this campaign is to discredit socialism in the hope of preventing any challenge by the working class to austerity and the escalating pursuit of militarism and war in the Middle East and throughout the world....

An attempt is now being made by the Zionists, Blairites and Tories to redefine anti-Semitism and equate it with a left-wing critique of Israel and its brutal subjugation of the Palestinians, centred on demands that Labour fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of anti-Semitism. The organization defines as anti-Semitic any description of the founding of the state of Israel as a “racist endeavour.”

The SEP decided to intervene in the dispute with a public meeting in Leeds. When some local Jews tried attending they were told "Zionists were not welcome" and stopped them coming in. However some managed and eventually those left outside were allowed in. One attendee wrote:

On our arrival we were informed we couldn't attend this event, we were told Jews/zionists were not welcome. 

So we stood outside trying to speak to the people hosting the meeting who were lingering in the doorway. They wouldn't answer any of our questions (we remained extremely polite throughout)
Two of the ladies with us did get inside by pretending to not be with us. After a good 10-15 minutes they eventually allowed us in.

This meeting was hosted by Socialist Equality Party.

The only speaker was someone called Chris, who frankly waffled on about everything and nothing referring to Brexiteers as Far Right, and basically referring to anyone right of Stalin as an extreme right winger. All the worlds problems boiled down to imperialism and lack of workers rights.

He refused to acknowledge anyone could have a difference of opinion, and on several occasions was condescending towards the two Jewish ladies sat in the front row. He reeled of a list of people who he felt were victimising Corbyn, this list included Mossad, Rabbi Lord Sacks, MI5, Jewish press in the UK and Rabbis in general. When questioned about this list he couldn't actually provide evidence to back anything up.

Turn out for this meeting was rather poor, if we hadn't attended they'd have been lucky to have 10 people there including the chair and the speaker.

Considering the meeting was about slurs made against Jeremy Corbyn, that really wasn't addressed. The NHS, Brexit and the oppression of the working classes was talked about more. Our group dominated the Q&A sessions which clearly the chair and speaker didn't like, but they opened it up to floor, it's just a pity the others in attendance made no effort to ask any questions.

The Socialist Equality Party may be small but illustrates the degeneration of anti-Zionism into what it has become today. Anti-Zionism is a modern form of racism with the worlds only Jewish state demonised and only Jews forbidden to have a right to national self-determination. The left should hang their heads in shame.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Book Review: Beyond Terror - Anne Marie Waters

Beyond Terror: Islams Slow Erosion of Western Democracy; Anne Marie Waters (Something or Other Publishing (Hardback) £22.95 from Amazon.

Anne Marie Waters has managed to attract controversy throughout her political career. I first came across her when she was being targeted by the Labour left and in particular (a now almost deceased blog) Socialist Unity. At the time Anne Marie was in the running to be a Labour Party PPC. She was also involved in the One Law for All campaign that was run by Maryam Namazie an Iranian ex-Muslim and member of the Worker Communist Party of Iran.

Like others I rushed to her defence in a blog piece that still receives hits almost daily since it was published: Anne Marie Waters resigns from the Labour Party which neatly bring s me to her book.

Published in the USA becuse no British publisher would take it on the book came out a few weeks ago. Having read the book I am not sure why her criticisms of Islam are quite valid and do require public debate without being censored by the so-called "religion of peace" that makes death threats against it's critics.

Salman Rushdie anyone? It was the way the far-left and the liberal establishment acted so cowardly over the fatwa that I for one gave up on the comrades some of whom were preparing to publish a letter supporting Rushdie in the Guardian. Then some snowflake decided it would be seen as "racists" (despite the fact Rushdie is err a brown ex-Muslim) and returned my cheque saying they would not be going ahead.

The journey that Anne Marie Waters describes is one that many people especially post Corbyn will understand she writes:

Leading up to my exit, I was heavily involved in the Labour Party (Britain s main left-of-centre political party)and was co-chairperson of the One Law for All anti-Sharia group. I was perfectly aware that many left wing groups were not only silent on the growth and dangers of Islamism but actively  supported Islamist campaigners and spokesmen. I failed to see the intrinsic link between,  Left-wing thought and that of Islamism and believed the left with persuasion would come to their senses and realise their error.

Of course they never did and most with a few exceptions probably never will. No wonder anti-Semitism so intrinsic in the Koran finds such willing dunderheads in the far-left.

Persecuted by the left and local Islamic "community leaders" (which as she points out were not speaking for every Muslim) because of her stance on women's rights shows that the left have no "shibboleths" and will dump anything to gain electoral support.

Where I part company with Anne Marie was her decision to join UKIP which surprised me (I am a remainer) and subsequently I wrote to her stating  she was making a mistake but would still take notice of her other work particularly on Islam.

It is this which forms the centre of the book. A step by step dismissal of the oppressive ideology of Islam. In her introduction Anne Marie makes this perfectly clear:

This is a book about Islam as a political force. It is about Islamic attitudes to women, homosexuals and individual freedom. It is about how these beliefs are now impacting on the democratic nations of the Western world.

Anne Marie Waters gained more publicity, some may say notoriety when she for and lost the UKIP leadership battle. Since then she has taken core supporters and established a new political party For Britain. Most commentators place this on the far right but Anne Marie is far from being a fascist.

Being highly critical of Islam does not automatically place anyone on the far-right. It used to be an indicator if anti-Semitism was prevalent but as the video below shows Anne Marie is no such thing, For Britain places itself somewhere on the right because of it's anti-EU stance, though to be fair the Communist Party is also anti EU and the Labour left has become riddled with anti-Semitism thinly disguised as anti-Zionism.

Political labels are becoming more fluid these days it seems.

As part of her conclusion Anne Marie writes:

Democratic states must start walking the walk. It is time to step up and and defend our values and cease apologising and relativising, and stop pretending that brutal tyranny is just another culture.

A worthy read but misguided on Europe. Our nations future does need new politics, new politicians and a new party. For Britain is not that vehicle it will have to come from the centre with some radical ideas which perhaps Anne Marie could have made some contribution but currently her stance would not be acceptable to mainstream politicians.

A shame as I share her beliefs that Islam and the far-left are the threat to our way of life.