Thursday, 19 July 2018

Time For a Clear Out

At the time I wrote my post about Labour Leave MP's, earlier in the week, it was before the close votes on the government's Trade Bill. At the time, right-wing Labour Leave MP's like John Mann, were berating other Labour MP's that surely they could not go into the lobbies on the upcoming votes with Rees-Mogg and co. Within 24 hours, it was, of course, Mann and the other miserable Labour Leave MP's that were trooping into the lobbies with Rees-Mogg to save the Tory government, who had let it be known that if they lost the vote on the amendment to introduce the requirement to be in a Customs Union, they would call a General Election. The Labour Leave MP's saved the Tory government, promoted the interests of the Rees-Moggs, and stopped us getting a Labour government. It's time they were cleared out, along with all those other right-wing Labour MP's, who at each stage attempt to undermine Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands of party members who stand behind him. 

Already we see some of those MP's preparing alibis for themselves, setting up arguments and excuses for jumping ship before they are thrown overboard as a result of their mutinous behaviour. Already, John Woodcock has jumped ship, throwing another load of shit at the party as he dives headlong into oblivion. Woodcock was already suspended for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to a former female member of staff. He was one of those right-wingers who took part in a documentary film made during the 2017 General Election, where it was clear that right wingers were hoping that Labour would do very badly, as a pretext for launching yet another challenge to Corbyn's leadership. In the film, Woodcock is seen assuming that he would lose the seat. But, in fact, with the support of a large number of Momentum supporters, who flocked into marginal constituencies, Woodcock not only won the seat, but increased his majority. He repays the party, and all those who secured this larger majority for him, by now leaving the party, and attacking it and its members. Of course, Woodcock does not intend to do the honourable thing and stand down from his seat, so that Labour can get a decent MP elected in his place. He will keep drawing the comfortable salary, as an MP, that Labour Party members, in much worse circumstances, have enabled him to obtain. 

We have seen a similar thing with lots of right-wing councillors and Council leaders. Having failed to stand up to Tory austerity for years, and in some cases even worse than that, they now see the writing on the wall, as a reinvigorated party membership starts to hold them to account, and to select new councillors consistent with the party membership, and its return to the progressive social-democratic values it adhered to prior to the take over of the party by conservative social-democrats like Kinnock, Smith, Blair and Brown. We have seen those right-wing Councillors and Council Leaders, frequently desert the party before they are deselected, rather than defend their positions. The same thing was seen in the early 1980's. When I was selected to stand for Stoke City Council, in 1983, the long-standing, right-wing Labour Councillor, immediately left the party and stood as an independent, whose main platform amounted to simply attacking me, with the support of the local press. Other right-wing Labour party members posted his material in their windows rather than supporting me. In actual fact, I won the seat with a bigger vote than had been seen in decades, and with a similarly large majority. That is why these right-wingers today dare not actually stand down from their seats. For all their bluster, they realise that Corbyn's Labour showed the fallacy of their arguments, last year, and that if they stood as candidates against Labour, they would get annihilated. 

That is why, instead they have been trying to undermine support for the party, whilst remaining inside it for as long as they can. At every stage when Labour rises in the polls, they manufacture some new set of attacks on the party. Every year, since Corbyn was elected leader, they have tried to damage the party's chances of success, by launching campaigns against supposed bullying and intimidation, or anti-Semitism, as well as their vote of no confidence in Corbyn, their attempts to unseat him in a leadership contest, and attempts to prevent him even getting on the ballot for such a contest. 

One of the most vile and ridiculous means by which they have attempted that is their campaign to try to brand Corbyn an anti-Semite and a racist. Given Corbyn's history, and that of his parents in fighting against fascism and racism that is a particularly putrid accusation. But, it is the same approach taken against other Corbyn supporters too, the latest of which is Paul Mason. The same was seen in the case brought against Marc Wadsworth. However, the failure of the Labour leadership over the last two years to deal with the right-wing wreckers, and their repeated attempts to reconcile them is itself to blame in allowing this situation to develop. There is no appeasing these right-wingers who are out to wreck the party as much as possible, before they split. 

The drive in that direction is being fuelled by the activities of people like Blair, and those who seek to artificially carve out some new so called centre party. Of course, centre parties already exist, in the shape of the Liberals and the Greens, but at the last election they got obliterated. But, the political careerists behind these machinations only see things in terms of the bureaucratic manoeuvres they can undertake to confect such organisations. They have no concept of parties actually being reflections of the underlying social classes and forces in society. Those careerists still hope to carve out a section of the Tories to join up with right-wing Labour MP's and the Liberals to create such a party of soft fudge. It would of necessity be a party based upon the same failed politics that led to the current situation. 

These right-wingers whilst using anti-Semitism as their weapon to attack Corbyn and his supporters, are simultaneously undermining the fight against anti-Semitism. Their attempt to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, necessarily increases anti-Semitism every time the Zionist Israeli state undertakes some new atrocity against its Arab population or against the Palestinians, or neighbouring Arab populations. They cynically use Jewish members as a peg on which to hang their attacks on Corbyn, whilst right-wing and Zionist Jewish organisations, allow themselves to be used by the Labour right, in return for the Labour right defending Zionism, and quelling criticism of the atrocities committed by Israel. Hence the current, but only latest, outcry over anti-Semitism, ridiculously launched in response to Labour's adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism, but with additional narrative in relation to its notes and examples. 

So its no surprise that organisations like the Board of British Jewish Deputies or the Jewish Leadership Council, led by Tories, and with links to right-wing Labour members, not to mention links to organisations such as BICOM, whose senior staff include people who are former Israeli state officials, have been calling for Labour MP's to split from Labour and create a new party. 

The fact is, as I have described previously, there is a problem of Left anti-Semitism. It is a problem whereby Jews are held to a higher level of behaviour than others, which flows over into a tendency to blame Jews for the reactionary activities of the Israeli state, as well as a denial of the right of the state of Israel to exist, for engaging in those activities. It is one thing to say that the establishment of the state of Israel was a reactionary Zionist/nationalist/colonialist project, and that Zionists continue that project by their attempts to occupy additional land in the Middle East; it is another to say that because of that, the existing state of Israel has no right to exist, and that it should be destroyed, which could only be achieved by force, in a war that would lead to the deaths of millions both of Jews and Arabs. Every state on the planet was originally established by some act of nationalism, and violence to suppress part of the population, because each was based upon one dominant nationality imposing itself over others. France had 200 nationalities within its borders, for example, prior to the nation state being established. Some states, such as the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, were established by force of arms, by colonists suppressing the native peoples. Yet, no one demands, for that reason that these other states be destroyed. 

We should root out that kind of left anti-Semitism as well as the more obvious and traditional anti-Semitism, based upon a hatred of Jews for being Jews, whilst noting the distinction between the two. But, the Right are simply utilising this real issue as a means of attacking Corbyn. If they thought there was a better vehicle for their attacks, they would drop this one, and throw all their weight into the other line of attack, at a minute's notice. 

The reality is that the Right are being exposed by the current political environment. The right-wing Labour Leavers are being exposed by the Tory Brexit crisis. Having warned other Labour MP's not to walk through the lobbies with Rees-Mogg, Mann and the other miserable bunch did precisely that. Mann claimed that Labour voters in his constituency and elsewhere in the North had voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. But, according to John Curtice and the British Electoral Survey, based on the 2015 Labour vote, even in constituencies in the North and Midlands, a majority of Labour voters voted Remain. In the North 57% of Labour voters voted remain, and in the Midlands, 60% of Labour voters voted Remain. Moreover, in the 2017 General Election, as Labour's vote increased, it did so largely on the back of a large number of younger voters, and of former Liberal and Green voters backing Labour to oppose Brexit. Its estimated that the proportion of 2017 Labour voters backing Remain is around 75%. So purely on the basis of electoralism, Mann's arguments for pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment are misguided. Even Alistair Campbell has noted that some right-wing Labour MP's, former Blair-rights, are sounding like Kippers, with their focus on opposition to free movement, and anti-immigrant sentiment, as their main concern in relation to Brexit. 

Large numbers of right-wing Labour MP's are simply floundering, and they know that their party memberships are going to ditch them sooner or later. So, they are preparing their excuses for leaving the party, whilst holding on to their parliamentary seats, for as long as possible. The ridiculous attack by Margaret Hodge on Corbyn comes within that category. It comes once again at a time when the Tory Brexit chaos has led the Tories to slide in the polls, with Labour now taking a 5 point lead over them. The Labour right cannot countenance such a position, and so yet again they have launched yet another assault on Corbyn using anti-Semitism as their preferred weapon of choice. Its time this bunch were kicked out. The Labour leadership should stop pandering to them, and to the Tory media. Then we can really start to tackle the Tories, and to tackle the real issues of racism and anti-Semitism, as well as opposing Brexit and other bigotry. 


Blissex2 said...

«Their attempt to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, necessarily increases anti-Semitism every time the Zionist Israeli state undertakes some new atrocity against its Arab population or against the Palestinians, or neighbouring Arab populations.»

This is a classic and very dangerous confusion, because J Corbyn in particular has been for decades a committed (two-state even) zionist, defending the right of jews to have a homeland in Palestine and thus the right of Israel to continue to exist, and so has the Labour party, as a supporter of the Balfour Declaration.

J Corbyn and the Labour Party have always supported zionism as expressed in both clauses of the Balfour Declaration:

#1 “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people
#2 “being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country

«the Board of British Jewish Deputies or the Jewish Leadership Council, led by Tories, and with links to right-wing Labour members»

More properly, not "Tories", but "likudniks", that is the supporters of the politics of Likud, an israeli extreme far-right, segregationist (at best...), political party.

In particular the likudniks try pretty hard to identify their political party with zionism, and even with jewish identity (thus adopting and extending the antisemitic propaganda that jews outside Israel should be more loyal to a foreign country's party than to their country of citizenship), and granting this confusion to them is indeed very dangerous.
Many jews inside Israel and even more outside resent or hate the attempt by likudniks to identify with zionism and even jewishness itself, in particular "bundists".

The reason why J Corbyn and Labour have been opponents of Likud-style politics while being steadfast zionists and supporters of Israel is that likudniks reject the zionism expressed in the Balfour Declaration, in particular clause #2 above.

Because J Corbyn and Labour fight both for the right of Israel to continue to exist and for a two state solution, and for the equal rights of citizens and residents of both states regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

Boffy said...

You don't have to be a Zionist to defend Israel's right to exist, any more than you have to be an imperialist or colonialist to defend the right of the British state to exist, or the Australian state to exist. Socialists defend the right of Israel to exist, as against those that seek to destroy it, and put in its place the state of some other nation, because we recognise that any such attempt would result in a terrible war that would cost the lives of millions.

Socialists do seek to destroy the capitalist state, but only in the context of destroying all states, as vehicles of class oppression and exploitation.

Blissex2 said...

«You don't have to be a Zionist to defend Israel's right to exist»

Perhaps "zionism" is a word that means different words to different people, but for many, many people it does mean supporting “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, e.g.:

so it seems impossible to me to support “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” without being a "zionist" in the proper sense.

Some people use improperly "zionist" to mean "far-right extremist", and in particular those who don't agree with clause 2 of the Balfour Declaration, for example the likudniks, but that is falling for likudnik propaganda, as they keep trying to redefine "zionist" to mean just themselves, even if there are many israeli zionists and non-israeli zionists who support J Corbyn and Labour, and the rights of minorities in Israel, and equal treatment for jews around the world.

PS there are likudniks who don't support equal rights for jews outside Israel, as they regard those jews as inferior jews for not living in Israel.

Boffy said...

These are two different things. If it was 70 years or more ago, I would not support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. I am not a Zionist.

But, its not a question of "establishing" such a state. Its already established, it has existed for 70 years. Now it exists, it is a different question to talk about destroying it. I do not support Zionist expansion, because that comes under the first case, but I do not support destroying it either because that raises the question of what realistically that entails.

Realistically, it entails a terrible war in which millions of workers will die. As a socialist I do not support wars that can be avoided, and that are fought for non-socialist purposes. Realistically, it means that in place of the sectarian Israeli state, a similarly sectarian Palestinian state would arise in its place. I have no desire to replace the error of those who supported the establishment of the Israeli state over the bones of Palestinians, with the error of those who want to establish a Palestinian state over the bones of Jews.

As a socialist my main focus is on the future of the global working-class and attempts to unify it across borders, and not the fetishising of nationalist, democratic or "anti-imperialist" struggles that result in a division of the global working-class against its common enemy.