I was politically active in the 80s and early 90s before I left to teach in Botswana. At that time the left was very divided. There were many small intellectual groups including anarchists, and two larger ones Militant inside the Labour party and Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) outside.
My political life started apolitically with the World Development Movement, that lasted a year and I grew a taste for it. I joined the Labour Party to do more development work joining the Brighton Labour Aid and Development Committee. Then I joined the national Labour Aid and Development Committee where I soon became secretary (nobody wanted to do it). I had clashes with the local Oxfam office because I was too pushy (alienating a few token “activists”) and they were too scared of their status. My development work finished with a small but successful conference in Brighton at the Brighthelm centre on International Trade Union Solidarity. Approximately 35 attended, I mostly did the work myself because of the alienation and their token-slowness, and the conference was topped off by a dance from the “Sisters of the Long March” busting into the plenary and dancing; they were doing a dance in the evening for funding.
This work had led me into the local trades council (NUT rep), and again because I was a dogsbody I soon became the Secretary. To begin with I was perceived as a neutral organiser. I watched as how the Trots were not interested in mass movement. Whatever their national agenda was they would bring it to the Trades Council forcing discussion on a particular issue. They would lose, and we would find the same motion on the next agenda. This sort of tactic prevented progress. I grew drawn to the superior analysis of the communists and for a couple of years gained an excellent Marxist education with them. However they were so patronising and paternalistic. Three issues demarcated this. Firstly they demanded an adherence to central policy. I found myself at the NUT conference where the communists were aligned with the Broad Left, and the Broad Left was the group with the exploiting union leaders. Second their attitude to women was terrible. They told women they shouldn’t go down the mines etc. because they would become exploited workers. Whilst this was true it should not be a party decision. And finally they believed in the Unity of the mass movement – laudable, criticised the Trots for splitting the mass movement – some truth, and in the country there were maybe 2000 members split into 3 parties. Although the party differences seemed sensible, one party – revolutionary (NCP), one working through the Morning Star (CPB), and one focussing on being elected (CPGB) the fact that they were so split and yet criticised splitters. I left the CP and focussed on organising with the Trades Council but I had burned too many Trot bridges. Finally I became very active in the Peace movement over the first Gulf War. During those protests I was teaching, going to a vigil after school, attending meetings in the evening, home at 11 to do the marking. After two months of this I was exhausted, and stopped – burnt out as any Trot. For a year I worked with some Latins or Latin-connected, and then went to Africa where active politics stopped.
This was 1988-1992, and throughout that time Corbyn had his centre in Islington – I suspect it was on a mailing list as well. The CP accepted Socialist Conference as a unifying force, and I think Corbyn worked with them. I was not active with them much.
Corbyn was a Trot so my politics placed me in opposition to him. However the way I ended up, I suspect we were much closer. I recently signed up with Momentum but have had no reply. I told them I was an activist who wanted to watch from afar – Thailand. Then I read that Momentum had been inundated with disillusioned Militants so I now expect there will be no answer.
It seems to me that this is an opportune moment for Corbyn to create a leftward-moving unity, and I am fascinated.
A Very British Coup (VBC)
This was a book written by Chris Mullin MP in 1982, in 1988 it was made into a tv series that was and is very powerful; Secret State was also based on this but I was less enamoured; both discussed at Wikipedia.
Chris Mullin was interesting and yet not. His claim to fame and very good action was the release of the Birmingham 6. At one time I had been involved in the Time to Go? Campaign trying to raise the profile as to whether there should be troops in the North of Ireland. Organising such a campaign then a profile speaker must be Chris Mullin. I became aware that he distanced himself from activists on Ireland. I never met him so I don’t know whether he was sound, although the political understanding I saw in the TV series countered the doubts of him that I had – almost completely.
VBC concerned Harry Perkins a steelworker from Sheffield voted in as Prime Minister, and it was how the establishment fought against him whilst in office.
The establishment was
The Civil Service including the civil servants working in his office
Here are tactics that the establishment used:-
1) Defence was a big issue. When Harry got rid of the bomb, they killed the expert who was going to disarm them. Tag – VBC Defence
Evaluation of Corbyn and VBC
1) The MIC is a very big issue for Corbyn. The MIC is often associated with California but the wealth of the South of England is predicated on arms sales; for such sales we need an aggressive foreign policy – NATO. Corbyn is standing against this. So far Corbyn’s battles have been about Syria – maintaining a war footing to sell arms, and not renewing Trident. There is a Ken Livingstone committee looking into this.
2) The media loved Hilary Benn’s speech over Syria, and went to town celebrating Labour divisions. Then the BBC allowed (orchestrated?) the public resignation of Stephen Doughty . There was a very public airing of a cabinet reshuffle.
3) An MP, Stephen Danczuk, was sacked for texting a teenager, turns out the teenager was in the sex industry. Nothing to do with this analysis.
Democracy is at the basis of the shadow cabinet reshuffle. What is the democratic basis for labour party policy? Clearly Corbyn has been given a mandate by his election, by the increasing party membership, and by the Oldham result. But none of this is policy. Where does policy come from? Conference. It is now up to Momentum and other activists to remove the Blairite Bilderburg policies from the Labour agenda.
The other aspect of the public reshuffle was of course public unity. I remember back in the 80s and election being lost to some extent by Dianne Abbott who said that members of the Labour party were racist. Of course they were and are racist but why was she stupid enough to say it? She is still around and was bandied around as a name for the shadow cabinet, I hope she has learned.
The real issue here is public perception. There is nothing wrong with dissent behind closed doors but what the hell was Hilary Benn doing on Syria? I hope that the days-long reshuffle were about discipline, if it works it merits the respect that the establishment gave Harry Perkins. The media will always attempt to divide labour but take the lesson from Blair:-
“Publicly shut up, argue in private and let the Tories shoot themselves in the foot over Europe.”
Of course Blair did this by cherry-picking the cabinet, moving policy to a Bilderburg set, and promoting a right-wing war and defence agenda. Much of what Corbyn has to fight within his cabinet is to remove the cherries Blair picked. Again this can best be done at the grass roots level so let’s hope Momentum can be active.
Zionism accusing anti-racists of racism
There is currently a row in the Labour party over anti-semitism in which Ken Livingsgtone has been sacked. I do not know the full details but I suspect Ken was typically Trottish and went too far.
This draws a parallel with Harry Perkins teacher ally who was sacked for dipping his wick.
What is clear is that Corbyn is being attacked by reactionary forces in the Labour party – the Lawrence Wainwright factor. Zionists draw no distinction between anti-zionism and anti-semitism. Yet there is a world of difference. People are afraid to take on the Zionists who misuse people’s timidity. Of course this is not why the Blairite opportunists are attacking Ken Livingstone, they are doing it to attack Corbyn and to curry favour with Zionist finance.
I do not know a great deal about Jewish politics. I know that the Zionist government has made agreements with the Palestinians and the UN, and then expanded into Palestinian territory. Someone who knows the facts can quote all the UN resolutions the Israelis have broken. However when I seek understanding of the situation one group of people I seek advice from is Jews, right-thinking Jews.
Here is a statement from a group of Jews about their situation. I am happy to agree with this.
You have to stand up and be clear. The Zionist lobby is very powerful and attempts to cower all those who are critical of anything Israeli, and for most, especially the middle-class, they are afriad to say anything because they be accused of racism.
Corbyn has setup a working party to look into racism in the Labour party – read about it here. This is sound. Let’s hope they are honest.
I am reminded of the movie “Rising Sun” in which the detectives were being smeared by Japanese business interests, Sean Connery said that they would accuse Wesley Snipes of racism. Red Ken is a fool – an extremist but in general is an anti-racist. They are trying to tarnish Corbyn with racism because he is clean – “Wesley Snipes”.
A Zionist tactic. People accept “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, by attacking Ken and Corbyn they are trying to create fire. Ken is a fool – not fire.
Liberal plays Zionist game
In this article, Jonathan Freedland – whoever he is, is doing exactly what the Zionists want. He is accusing the left of anti-semitism because he is saying the Left are not listening to the Jews.
“On the left, black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism; women can define sexism; Muslims are trusted to define Islamophobia. But when Jews call out something as antisemitic, leftist non-Jews feel curiously entitled to tell Jews they’re wrong, that they are exaggerating or lying or using it as a decoy tactic – and to then treat them to a long lecture on what anti-Jewish racism really is.”
I learnt my anti-racism from oppressed black people in the UK, their message was similar to those in Africa, but I don’t think Ben Carson and Jesse Jackson say the same things. When it comes to Islamophobia I am less good. I learnt my understanding of Muslims in the Middle East, and there I was taught that the problem was the “seat” – the dictator’s seat. Since then there has been the Arab Spring. My understanding of Muslims in the UK was lacking when I lived for a year there – 2003/2004. With regards to the Jews the issue is even more complicated because many would include leading Zionists amongst the 1%, mind you so are the Saudi royal family.
So why not listen to these Jews, Jonathan Freedland?
The parallels with a Very British Coup grow. Lawrence Wainwright was an opportunist who challenged Harry Perkins and was backed by establishment forces. In VBC he was outplayed by Harry Perkins and ended up in Northern Ireland. Harry however was pushed into calling a general election as the establishment tried to defeat him.
Under Blair the Labour party was divided from the grass roots by Blair who installed Wainwrights throughout the Labour party. He did this from the wards up throughout the Labour party into parliament. Through his manipulations the grass roots were separated from the opportunists in parliament, and lost their voice; Blair split the party. Were Blair’s policies for the people or the 1%? It is my analysis that the grass roots support for Corbyn was a recognition of this split – conscious or otherwise, and was a measure of the people fighting back.
Now these Wainwrights are using the excuse of the EU to drive Corbyn out. Corbyn’s credentials are grass roots support, and he is fighting the apparent credentials of the establishment’s Wainwrights whose claim of legitimacy is being voted into parliament. As a democrat, why don’t I accept this as legitimate? Because I know how ward politics are manipulated. It is the apathy of the mass movement that enables such manipulations to occur – rigging ward meetings etc. When the Wainwrights force the election within the Labour party it will be fascinating to see if the grass roots are sufficiently mobilised to fight the Wainwright opportunists. Ultimately this is the battle that always had to be won, there would have been some other excuse – the EU thing is meaningless in context. Fascinating.
The VBC continues as the Wainwrights try to oust Corbyn, and the leading Wainwright is Angela Eagle – someone who has tried to remove Corbyn from the word go. She is MP for Wallasey, my birth place, and somewhere I didn’t know had a Labour MP; maybe not Labour but a Wainwright. I just read she voted for the Iraq war.
The division between the parliamentary representation and the mass movement came to a head in the vote of no confidence that was 80% anti. Last night the talk was of whether Corbyn would actually be allowed to stand; I wonder how much that was feasible or desired. Quite simply so many Labour voters would have been alienated by such a machination that it would have severed the grassroots.
I am concerned this was a red herring. This Guardian article describes how the NEC accepted Corbyn with some very peculiar happenings. But I noticed this in the article “However, in a separate decision taken after Corbyn had left the room, the NEC ruled that only those who have been members for more than six months will be allowed to vote – while new supporters will be given two days to sign up as registered supporters to vote in the race, but only if they are willing to pay £25 – far higher than the £3 fee many Corbyn backers paid in the contest last year.”
I am not close enough to the ground to know the full meaning of this. It looks like a mechanism for excluding the poorer members, and I suspect those poor would be Corbyn supporters. I have a feeling that the Milliband measures that opened up the membership voting contributed to Corbyn’s success last year. I wonder whether the quoted change the NEC made last night (with Corbyn not in the room) was significant – I expect so.
I hope Momentum are strong enough to mobilise grass roots support. The Wainwrights say that Labour is unelectable under Corbyn. In part I agree, they are unelectable now with all the Wainwrights but within four years if representation can return to the mass movement and not Blair puppets that that swell of mass movement democracy could herald an electable opposition under Corbyn.