Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Image result for pastor James McConnell PHOTO


IRELAND: Muslim leader, who demanded prosecution of Christian pastor for criticizing Islam.


Islamophopic racist pastor from Northern Ireland is facing six months in prison for making allegedly “offensive” remarks about Islam. 

Raied al-Wazzan

Raied al-Wazzan

The controversy began back in May 2014, when Islamophobic RACIST pastor James McConnell, 78, gave a sermon where he described Islam as “heathen” and “satanic”.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has said in a press release that McConnell violated the 2003 Communications Act by “sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive.” The offence carries a sentence of up to six months.

Raied al-Wazzan had been leading the push to have RACIST McConnell prosecuted for a year. “This is inflammatory language and it definitely is not acceptable,” he told the BBC back in May 2014. Adding that he would hold RACIST McConnell “responsible for any racial attacks on any Muslim in Northern Ireland.”

Around this time, in early June 2014, Raied al-Wazzan was using the publicity generated by the controversy to lobbying land for a new mega-mosque. “It is a cultural centre that we are looking for and not just a mosque,” he said on local radio, adding in a statement: “We will provide the funds to build the cultural centre but we need the land from the government.”



Posted in UK0 Comments

Corbyn victory unmasks Britain’s Guardian newspaper

The Guardian and Observer

By Jonathan Cook

In autumn 2002 Ed Vulliamy, a correspondent for Britain’s Observernewspaper, stumbled on a terrible truth that many of us already suspected.

In a world-exclusive, he persuaded Mel Goodman, a former senior Central Intelligence Agency official who still had security clearance, to go on record that the CIA knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Everything the US and British governments were telling us to justify the coming attack on Iraq were lies.

Then something even more extraordinary happened. The Observer failed to print the story.

In his book Flat Earth News, Nick Davies recounts that Vulliamy, one of theObserver’s most trusted reporters, submitted the piece another six times in different guises over the next half year. Each time the Observer spiked the story.

Vulliamy never went public with this monumental crime against real journalism (should there not be a section for media war crimes at the Hague?). The supposedly liberal-left Observer was never held accountable for the grave betrayal of its readership and the world community.

Turning the tables

But at the weekend maybe the tables turned a little. The Observer gave Vulliamy a platform in its comment pages to take issue with an editorial the previous week savaging Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader.

In understandably cautious mode, Vulliamy called the paper’s stance towards Corbyn “churlish”, warning that it had lost the chance to stand apart from the rest of the British media. All had taken vehemently against the new Labour leader from the very beginning of his candidacy.

“We conjoined the chorus with our own – admittedly more progressive – version of this obsession with electoral strategy with little regard to what Corbyn says about the principles of justice, peace and equality (or less inequality).”

In a few months Corbyn has endured more contempt from the fearless watchdogs of the left than the current Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has suffered over many years..

What do these two confrontations between Vulliamy and the Observer –13 years apart; one public, one not – indicate about the changing status of the liberal-left media?

To understand what’s going on, we also need to consider the coverage of Corbyn in the Guardian, the better-known daily sister paper of the Observer.

All the Guardian’s inner circle of commentators, from Jonathan Freedland to Polly Toynbee, made public that they were dead against Corbyn from the moment he looked likely to win. When he served simply to justify claims that the Labour Party was a broad and tolerant church, these commentators were in favour of his standing. But as soon as he began to surge ahead, these same liberal-left pundits poured more scorn on him than they had reserved for any other party leader in living memory.

In a few months Corbyn has endured more contempt from the fearless watchdogs of the left than the current Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has suffered over many years.

The Guardian’s news coverage, meanwhile, followed exactly the same antagonistic formula as that of the right-wing press: ignore the policy issues raised by Corbyn, concentrate on trivial or perceived personality flaws, and frame stories about him in establishment-friendly ways.

We have endured in the Guardian the same patently ridiculous, manufactured reports about Corbyn, portraying him as sexist, anti-Semitic, unpatriotic, and much more.

We could expect the rightiwing media to exploit every opportunity to try to discredit Corbyn, but looking at the talkbacks it was clear Guardian readers expected much more from their paper than simple-minded character assassination.

Red neo-liberals

The reality is that Corbyn poses a very serious challenge to supposedly liberal-left media like the Guardian and the Observer, which is why they hoped to ensure his candidacy was still-born and why, now he is leader, they are caught in a terrible dilemma.

While the Guardian and Observer market themselves as committed to justice and equality, but do nothing to bring them about apart from promoting tinkering with the present, hugely unjust, global neo-liberal order, Corbyn’s rhetoric suggests that the apple cart needs upending.

If it achieves nothing else, Corbyn’s campaign has highlighted a truth about the existing British political system: that, at least since the time of Tony Blair, the country’s two major parliamentary parties have been equally committed to upholding neo-liberalism. The Blue Neo-Liberal Party (the Conservatives) and the Red Neo-Liberal Party (Labour) mark the short horizon of current British politics. You can have either hardcore neo-liberalism or slightly more softcore neo-liberalism.

Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the Parliamentary Labour Party as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain’s liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons.

Corbyn shows that there should be more to politics than this false choice, which is why hundreds of thousands of leftists flocked back to Labour in the hope of getting him elected. In doing so, they overwhelmed the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), which vigorously opposed him becoming leader.

But where does this leave the Guardianand Observer, both of which have consistently backed “moderate” elements in the PLP? If Corbyn is exposing the PLP as the Red Neo-Liberal Party, what does that mean for the Guardian, the parliamentary party’s house paper?

Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the PLP as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain’s liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons. Which is why the Freedlands and Toynbees – keepers of the Guardian flame, of its undeserved reputation as the left’s moral compass – demonstrated such instant antipathy to his sudden rise to prominence.

They and the paper followed the right-wing media in keeping the focus resolutely on Corbyn rather than recognising the obvious truth: this was about much more than one individual. The sudden outpouring of support for Corbyn reflected both an embrace of his authenticity and principles and a much more general anger at the injustices, inequalities and debasement of public life brought about by neo-liberalism.

Corbyn captured a mood, one that demands real, not illusory change. He is riding a wave, and to discredit Corbyn is to discredit that wave.

Character assassination

The Guardian and the Observer, complicit for so long with the Red Neo-Liberals led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, thought they could kill off Corbyn’s campaign by joining in the general media bullying. They thought they could continue to police the boundaries of the political left – of what counts as credible on the left – and place Corbyn firmly outside those borders.

But he won even so – and with an enormous lead over his rivals. In truth, theGuardian’s character assassination of Corbyn, rather than discrediting him, served only to discredit the paper with its own readers.

Corbyn’s victory represented a huge failure not just for the political class in all its narrow neo-liberal variations, but also for the media class in all its narrow neo-liberal variations. It was a sign that the Guardian’s credibility with its own readers is steadily waning.

The talkback sections in the Guardian show its kneejerk belittling of Corbyn has inserted a dangerous seed of doubt in the minds of a proportion of its formerly loyal readers. Many of those hundreds of thousands of leftists who joined the Labour Party either to get Corbyn elected or to demonstrate their support afterwards are Guardian readers or potential readers. And the Guardianand Observer ridiculed them and their choice.

Media like the Guardian are tied by a commercial and ideological umbilical cord to a neo-liberal order a large swath of their readers are growing restless with or feel downright appalled by.

Belatedly the two papers are starting to sense their core readership feels betrayed. Vulliamy’s commentary should be seen in that light. It is not a magnanimous gesture by the Observer, or even an indication of its commitment to pluralism. It is one of the early indications of a desperate damage limitation operation.

We are likely to see more such “reappraisals” in the coming weeks, as the liberal-left media tries to salvage its image with its core readers.

This may not prove a fatal blow to the Guardian or the Observer but it is a sign of an accelerating trend for the old media generally and the liberal-left media more specifically.

Papers like the Guardian and the Observer no longer understand their readerships both because they no longer have exclusive control of their readers’ perceptions of what is true and because the reality – not least, polarising inequality and climate degradation – is becoming ever more difficult to soft-soap.

Media like the Guardian are tied by a commercial and ideological umbilical cord to a neo-liberal order a large swath of their readers are growing restless with or feel downright appalled by.

In 2003 the Observer knowingly suppressed the truth about Iraq and WMD to advance the case for an illegal, “preventive” war, one defined in international law as the supreme war crime.

At that time – digitally the equivalent of the Dark Ages compared to now – the paper just about managed to get away with its complicity in a crime against humanity. The Observer never felt the need to make real amends with Vulliamy or the readers it betrayed.

But in the age of a burgeoning new media, the Observer and Guardian are discovering that the rules are shifting dangerously under their feet. Corbyn is a loud messenger of that change.

Posted in UK0 Comments

How Mosley helped them ban May Day

IN one of Jack Lindsay’s novels, mounted police are breaking up a May Day rally in London, and one of the characters remarks to his friend that there are only two capital cities in Europe where people are forbidden to march on May Day, one of them being Madrid under Franco, the other being London under Labour.It’s a long time since I read the book, but I’d guess they were talking about May Day 1950, as part of the story was set around Sheffield, and preparations for the World Peace Congress held in the city that year. Lindsay was a prolific writer perhaps better remembered today as a historian than for his ventures into fiction, which I have not seen around for years, nor heard anybody mention.

The Greater London Association of Trade Union Union Councils (GLATUC) has been commemorating 150 years of history this week, dating from the foundation of its predecessor, the old London Trades’ Council. There was a rally on Saturday, and there’s a celebratory booklet out, with articles on the London Trades Council’s origins, the conditions in 1860, the famous ‘Matchgirls” Strike of 1888 which lit the way for trade unionism in the East End, the Police Strikes at the end of the First World War, and so on.

You can read about Stepney Trades Council and Guernica, how West Ham trades council in docklands helped force the tube stations open as shelters during the Blitz, and Brent trades council hosted Nelson Mandela’s last public meeting in England before he returned to South Africa, arrest and imprisonment.
It’s all well illustrated, and for just a couple of quid it’s all a good read.

GLATUC nowadays arranges London’s May Day march, usually culminating in a Trafalgar Square rally, but in an article entitled ‘The Battle of the Ban’ we read how May Day in London, the labour day festival, was banned for three years running 1948, 1949 and 1950, and how the London Trades Council had to stand up and defy Clement Attlee’s Labour government.

Trouble began with a ‘blast from the (all-too recent) past’. Sir Oswald Mosley’s British fascists had been forbidden from wearing their blackshirt uniforms since the late 1930s, and Mosley himself was imprisoned under the wartime 18B regulations. By the late 1940s however Mosley was trying to revive his movement, hoping to exploit anti-Jewish prejudices that had never gone away in spite of Hitler’s holocaust, and had been given a new lease in response to Zionist attacks on British forces in Palestine.

This issue might be expected to die down with British withdrawal, and soon Mosley and other racists would find a new target, turning their attention to west London, where housing conditions fuelled tension between poor whites and new West Indian immigrants. But for now there were still clashes at places like Ridley Road, in Dalston, and with not only memories of the East End in the 1930s but the horrors of Auschwitz and Belsen fresh in people’s minds, many not only fought the fascists but asked how Labour could tolerate their re-emergence.

Labour Home Secretary James Chuter Ede responded by saying he was considering a ban on all political marches in London. Oswald Mosley then announced that he was going to hold a May Day march, starting from the same place as the London trades council march. The Metropolitan Police obligingly arranged for them to follow separate routes, but on the say there were still clashes, and 30 anti-fascists were arrested.

Chuter Ede announced there would be a three month ban on all processions in London. London Trades Council held a meeting in Trafalgar Square to protest the ban and fascist antisemitic attacks. The government now extended its ban until February 1949. As soon as it ended the fascists were allowed to hold another East End march, which met mass resistance.

The ban was imposed again, this time affecting the 1949 May Day march. Defying the ban, groups of workers met up and marched on the Square, where there was a rally attended by some 30,000 people. frustrated by the defiance, police took out their rage on those leaving the square afterwards, and made arrests.

“The situation now was one where the fascists by their provocative actions could bring a ban on all other political demonstrations and collusion was suspected with the authorities.”
(The Battle of the Ban, in ’150 Years of Union Struggle’, GLATUC pamphlet).

With the ban on marches imposed again in 1950, and due to end on May 2, Chuter Ede announced he was extending it again. London Trades Council meanwhile had a rally planned for May 7. They urged supporters to come from all parts of London, but avoid giving police any excuse to attack them. The police nevertheless still harassed people coming to Trafalgar Square, making several arrests, and then let the mounted police loose to charge on demonstrators.

Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, across London on the same day, Mosley and his cohort enjoyed a police escort to make their foray into Hackney.

As feeling grew, and the government faced a general election, it did not continue with the bans.
But other things were happening. The Attlee government, trying to hold on to what it could of the British Empire, had been the first in Britain’s history to maintain “peacetime” conscription. One of the slogans on the May Day marches had been to end the war in Malaya, where British forces were protecting the plantation owners and fighting Communist guerrillas. In June 1950 a new war broke out, in Korea.

Later that year, unable to prevent the World Peace Congress being held in Sheffield, the Labour government did its best to strangle it, by for instance banning delegates from overseas attending. Paul Robeson was among those denied a visa.

The Attlee government had also decided that Britain should become a nuclear power as well as taking its place alongside America in the Cold War. Here too, as we see from Christopher Andrews’ new authorised history of MI5, the fascists, however depleted, could have their uses. In December 1947, concerned with the need to step up security in government departments, Attlee minuted:
“We cannot afford to take risks here, and the general public will will support us. Fellow travellers may protest, but we should face up to this. Action should be taken in regard to Fascists as well as Communists, though the former are feeble.”

“Feeble though the tattered remnants of British Fascism were, they proved of some use, for public relations purposes in enabling the government to claim that it was protecting the state against extremists of both left and right. In March 1948, following cabinet discussion, the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons the introduction of what became known as the ‘Purge Procedure’ , excluding both Communists and Fascists from work “vital to the Security of the State”.
(Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm, p.383).

I well remember the forms one had to fill in for even the humblest of civil service jobs, demanding to know if you were ever a member of a Communist or Fascist organisation. Since the Mosleyites no longer called themselves the British Union of Fascists but had become simply the British Union, and then more confusingly, the Union Movement, I suppose they could honestly say they did not. I don’t know whether they or other far-Right followers have ever been troubled by intrusive “security” probing and blacklisting. Or if the ban on all “extremists” served, as Mr.Andrew says, useful for “public relations purposes”. One must allow the Labour and liberal politicians space to keep up proprieties.


Posted in UK0 Comments

We badly need more donated kidneys. Let’s start paying for them


The glorious Guardian promoting the legalisation of poor people selling their kidneys to rich people. Simples !

The black market for organs is thriving, but exploitative, and only of use if you’re wealthy or well-connected. We need to find a better way
A kidney from a living donor is removed with keyhole surgery at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.
A kidney from a living donor is removed with keyhole surgery at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian.

The need for living kidney donors is dire. Last year more than 4,000 Americans died while waiting for a kidney transplant, and many more people will die if they do not get the proper care in time.

A few months ago, I donated a kidney to a stranger who desperately needed one. I decided I could not morally justify living luxuriously with a back-up kidney when someone else would die without my help. I felt compelled, both by my religion and by my conscience, to sacrifice whatever I could to save another life. The procedure worked, and I am no worse for wear.

I was not financially compensated for my deed (nor would I want to be). But the truth is that a well-regulated market where financial incentives could be offered could save the lives of countless people. Since kidney sales are illegal, they often occur underground, which drives the price up substantially per unit. The inherent unregulated and unsupervised nature of the market makes it difficult to pay such a price unless wealth or connections are in place. It causes terrible harm to the world’s most vulnerable people. Bringing kidney sales out from the shadows could solve both of these problems by increasing the supply of kidneys at a reasonable price and safeguarding the easily exploitable poor.

The impoverished people who sell kidneys are rarely informed of the risks, and lack health insurance or adequate compensation. They are sometimes not paid at all because the transaction was initially illegal and seeking police recourse would be futile. The World Health Organisation estimates that broker-purchased kidneys go for about $5,000, and are in turn sold to wealthy recipients for an estimated $150,000.

Shmuly Yanklowitz
 Shmuly Yanklowitz after the kidney donation operation. Photograph: Shmuly Yanklowitz

There is no doubt that the current unregulated, illegal network is abusive. Organ brokers make false promises – some tell donors that kidneys will grow back after being harvested – and subsequently earn enormous profits over their illegal transaction. The Nepalese village of Hokse, near Kathmandu, is a heart-rending example. It is known as the “Kidney Village”, due to organ brokers persuading so many villagers to go to southern India, where each has sold a kidney to a foreigner to raise funds to pay debts or to support their families. Geeta, 37, mother of four, sold one of her kidneys for the measly sum of $2,000; she used the funds to buy a small house for her family. Her pain was for nought: in April 2015, the earthquake that struck Nepal levelled her modest home. Her family now lives in a structure made of corrugated iron and clear plastic wrap.

In this worst of all possible worlds, only black-market incentives are offered. Since underground organ sales are happening en masse, we must look deep inside and ask vital questions: how can we re-channel this exploitative industry to one that ensures the health of the donor? How can these people be adequately protected in the procedure in such a way that non-coercive consent is ensured? How can exorbitant profit opportunities for organ brokers be eliminated? How do we ensure a level playing field to ensure fair distribution of donated organs? Those who support the prohibition of offering incentives think it will prevent the enormous ills of this abusive black market. But like the prohibition of sex work, it has failed. Miserably.

Though it would be nice if everyone would donate a kidney altruistically, we don’t live in a utopia. And why should society require pure motives from one willing to take a health risk to save another’s life? We don’t expect altruism when paying firemen and policemen. We pay soldiers to fight wars, doctors to treat ill patients and researchers to work in labs handling the Ebola virus. So why should we be troubled by a penurious person being paid for a small medical risk that will save a life, especially considering the mortality rate for kidney donation is less than that of non-essential plastic surgery?

As a rabbi – as a human being who believes in the infinite dignity of the other – I believe saving human life is of utmost consequence. If most people will not donate altruistically, then incentivising people by offering them compensation and benefits should be our ideal. It is vital that we correct today’s exploitative status quo of underground donation trafficking. This will bring sanity to a system that needs it. We can save countless lives. This not a mere apothegm: it is something worth striving for.

Posted in Health, UK0 Comments

Nurses could be forced to pay tuition fees under new Treasury proposals


Exclusive: Student nurses and midwives could be forced to pay their tuition fees under new Treasury plans

Nurses from Great Ormond Street Hospital danced for the world at the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Nurses from Great Ormond Street Hospital danced for the world at the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games Photo: Getty

Student nurses and midwives could be forced to pay their tuition fees and living costs under new proposals being considered by the Treasury.

Shortages of nurses in the NHS have left hospitals paying up to £2,200 per shift for locum staff, with thousands more being recruited from abroad.

But most of those applying to train as a nurse are turned away, with three times as many applicants as funded places, figures show.

The Councils of Deans of Health and Universities UK have submitted plans to the government’s spending review, due to be published next month,proposing to axe the system of free education.

The plans would see the introduction of tuition fees and the scrapping of bursaries which cover students’ living costs, to be replaced by loans.

The organisations say the current system means the number of places is limited by what the NHS can afford – leading to shortages.

But nursing and midwifery unions last night raised fears that charging for the courses would mean many more potential entrants would be deterred.

Tom Sandford, director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing raised concerns that such changes could put potential nurses off entering training, deterred by the prospect of large debts, and a low starting salary.

“Financial hardship is the top reason nursing students drop out, and the full time demands of the course make it very difficult for nursing students to earn extra money while they are training,” he said.

The Royal College of Midwives said the plans risked worsening a shortage of 2,600 midwives.

“Financial hardship is the top reason nursing students drop out, and the full time demands of the course make it very difficult for nursing students to earn extra money while they are training.”
Tom Sandford, director of nursing at the Royal College of Nursing

“Future midwives could be burdened with debt and put off pursuing a career in midwifery,” a spokesman said.

The proposals do not suggest a specific level for the loans.

Nurses 'emotionally exhausted' by demand for compassion

A survey of 351 trainee nurses found that those who were required to show more compassion every day were significantly more likely to suffer stress outside of working hours  Photo: REX FEATURES (POSED BY MODELS)

But nurses currently receive a means-tested bursary of up to £5,460 a year to cover living costs, while other students are eligible for loans of up to £7,750.

Tuition fees for other health professions, such as dentists, pharmacists and doctors, cost up to £9,000 a year.

The current proposals, seen by Health Service Journal magazine, could bring the end of free education for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists.

Dame Jessica Corner, chairman of the Council of Deans of Health, said the organisation had asked the government to make changes to the existing system, which she said was “fragile and vulnerable” to service pressures.

Prof Livesley said doctors and nurses are unwilling or are inadequately trained to recognise when a patient is dying because of the lack of life threatening epidemics.   Photo: ALAMY

She said: “It has been a fact over decades that every time there are funding pressures in the NHS that is passed directly on to the numbers of nurses and health professionals that are trained.”

She said the NHS could consider paying back the loan of nurses who commit to work for the health service for a set period of time after completing training.

Dame Jessica said replacing the bursary system – which pays nurses towards living costs – could reduce their level of hardship, as they could borrow more than they are currently paid by bursary.

“The NHS faces severe domestic skills shortages in a number of professions, and the existing grants based system is unable to meet the costs of increasing student numbers to meet national need.”
Universities UK

In its submission to the spending review, Universities UK said: “The NHS faces severe domestic skills shortages in a number of professions, and the existing grants based system is unable to meet the costs of increasing student numbers to meet national need. The proposed change would allow for a sustainable increase in student numbers.”

Last year, 57,000 applicants tried to train as a nurse in England, but just 20,000 places were funded.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign nurses registering to work in Britain rose by one third, as hospitals attempted to increase staff numbers in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal.

A spokesman for the Treasury declined to comment ahead of the spending review.

Posted in Health, UK0 Comments

Corbyn shifts into reverse to avoid party conference car-crash

Jeremy Corbyn and Trident

Thousands who backed Corbyn’s leadership bid expecting him to pursue an anti-Trident and EU-sceptic line are left frustrated

By Stuart Littlewood

At the Labour Party conference there was no debate on Trident even though non-renewal of the nuclear deterrent was central to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

Why the omission? The unions didn’t want to talk about it. Topics for debate are decided “democratically” and since the unions wield 50 per cent of the votes their views tend to prevail. They derailed any idea of having a sensible discussion.

Unite [union] might as well protect the arms dealers too who help make the world go round for the death-dealing arms industry.

Len McCluskey, the head of Unite, which has thousands of members in the defence industry, is reported as saying that his main focus would be the protection of jobs, so Mr Corbyn had to back down.

“I understand the moral case and the huge cost of replacing Trident, especially in this era of austerity,” said McCluskey,

but the most important thing for us is jobs and the defence of communities. We will vote against any anti-Trident motion. I don’t think this will be a problem for Jeremy Corbyn. He is a great democrat and we are already seeing a refreshing change to the Labour conference, with open debates.

But the rank and file membership may not see it like that. Unite might as well protect the arms dealers too who help make the world go round for the death-dealing arms industry. Faced with McCluskey’s attitude, I already regret signing a petition opposing the Tories’ proposed Trade Union Bill. If union leaders are determined to close down the anti-Trident campaign, why should I or anyone else leap to their defence? And why should the British public cough up GBP 100 billion to keep people in work on weapons of mass destruction? The writing has been on the wall for long enough and, besides, we’re signed up to nuclear non-proliferation.

In his rant against the Trade Union Bill McCluskey told conference delegates that the requirement for striking workers to wear armbands on the picket line was like the Nazis’ treatment of trade unionists in concentration camps. “I will be on the picket line when Unite members are on strike and I will not be wearing an armband with a red triangle like the trade union prisoners,” he said. “Conference, remember, that’s what the Nazis did – trade unionists in the concentration camps of Dachau – made to wear armbands with red triangles. We won’t be doing that.”

There are valid complaints about the bill but this isn’t one of them. What the bill actually says is that “the picket supervisor must wear a badge, armband or other item that readily identifies the picket supervisor as such”. A fuss about nothing, which nonetheless received a standing ovation from the leadership and the hall.

Austerity “not an economic necessity”

On the economy Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the conference he was “fearful” about the present situation. He said the Tories’ economic recovery was based on rising house prices, growing consumer credit, and inadequate reform of the financial sector, and that the economy was overwhelmingly reliant on insecure jobs in the service sector.

Our balance of payments deficit is at the highest levels it’s been since modern records began. I worry that the same pre-crash warning signs are reappearing…

“The Conservatives always argue that no matter what the social cost of their austerity policies, they are necessary to rescue our economy. Let’s be clear. Austerity is not an economic necessity, it’s a political choice.

He pledged that every policy Labour proposes and every economic instrument they use will be “rigorously tested to its extreme” before adopted in government, and the Office of Budget Responsibility and the Bank of England would test and re-test Labour’s plans to ensure they are workable and affordable.

McDonnell also slammed the Tories over nationalisation.

I found the Conservatives’ rant against Jeremy’s proposal to bring rail back into public ownership ironic when George Osborne was touring China selling off to the Chinese state bank any British asset he could lay his hands on. It seems the state nationalising our assets is OK with the Tories as long as it’s the Chinese state or in the case of our railways the Dutch or French.

Jeremy Corbyn, in his new leader’s speech, declared that Labour will challenge austerity and inequality and protect workers better. Internationally, Labour will support the authority of international law and international institutions, not act against them.

He immediately threw down the gauntlet to David Cameron over the Saudis.

Intervene now, personally, with the Saudi Arabian regime to stop the beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who is threatened with the death penalty for taking part in a demonstration at the age of 17. And while you’re about it, terminate that bid made by our Ministry of Justice to provide services for Saudi Arabia – which would be required to carry out the sentence that would be put down on Mohammed Ali al-Nimr.

We have to be very clear about what we stand for in human rights. A refusal to stand up is the kind of thing that really damages Britain’s standing in the world.

He also lambasted the Tories’ idea of economic recovery, saying there’s an investment crisis. Britain’s level of investment was at the bottom of the international league, just below Madagascar and just above El Salvador. The UK’s balance of payment deficit was GBP 100 billion last year, saddling the economy and every one of us with unsustainable debt for the future. Shocks in world markets this summer had shown up the fragile state of the world economy and how ill-prepared the Tories had left us to face another crisis. The feeble economic recovery wasn’t underpinned by growing exports and a stronger manufacturing sector but house price inflation, asset inflation, more private debt. He called it unbalanced, unsustainable and dangerous – “an economy that works for the few, not for the many. Manufacturing is still in decline.”

Referring to John McDonnell’s speech the previous day, he said: “The economy of the future depends on the investment we make today in infrastructure, skills and schools.” To help achieve this he wants a National Investment Bank and a Green New Deal investing in renewable energy and energy conservation to tackle the threat of climate change.

On Trident, he said:

I don’t believe GBP 100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons taking up a quarter of our defence budget is the right way forward. I believe Britain should honour our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and lead in making progress on international nuclear disarmament. But we must make sure all the jobs and skills of everyone in every aspect of the defence industry are fully protected and fully utilised so that we gain from this, we don’t lose from this.

In an interview after the conference he said he wouldn’t press the nuclear button anyway, a remark which has caused some consternation. But who would, other than the worst of the worst psychopaths?

On foreign policy he insisted we learn the lessons of the recent past.

It didn’t help our national security that, at the same time I was protesting outside the Iraqi embassy about Saddam Hussein’s brutality, Tory ministers were secretly conniving with illegal arms sales to his regime. It didn’t help our national security when we went to war with Iraq in defiance of the United Nations and on a false prospectus. It didn’t help our national security to endure the loss of hundreds of brave British soldiers in that war while making no proper preparation for what to do after the fall of the regime.

Nor does it help our national security to give such fawning and uncritical support to regimes like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who abuse their own citizens and repress democratic rights.

Corbyn was silent on Europe and the upcoming European Union in/out referendum, no doubt fearing a row. Earlier, he had written in The Independent:

The EU is too beholden to corporate interests, and the behind-closed-doors negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) confirm this. This poses a huge threat to our environmental standards, consumer protections and workers’ rights.

“What’s more, there is clearly a democratic deficit when even elected members of Parliament don’t have access to papers being discussed, and when the proposals include a supra-national and unaccountable judicial system to arbitrate on trade policy. And I’m also concerned by the direction and advance of EU foreign policy development with all new member states required to join NATO, which suggests both a militaristic turn in Europe and the block that puts on an independent foreign policy…

There is a lot wrong with the European Union, a lot of change needed, but I want to hear from the British people about what sort of Europe they want.

He also avoided the thorny issue of immigration.

“Grown-up politics” or cop-out?

Corbyn’s new-style Labour risks becoming a gift to satirists, what with his appointment of such oddballs as the convicted arsonist Lord Watson to his front-bench team along with Lord Falconer, Tony Blair’s old flatmate and “fixer”, and supporter of the war on Iraq. That Corbyn cannot gather enough genuine socialists into his team shows what a comprehensive brainwashing job Blair and his gruesome crew managed to do.

That Corbyn cannot gather enough genuine socialists into his team shows what a comprehensive brainwashing job Blair and his gruesome crew managed to do.

Corbyn says repeatedly he wants to build a “kinder politics”. Not too kind though, one hopes. Lack of coherence and too much slack could be his undoing. He has certainly inherited a difficult legacy but embracing the “enemy within” and especially allowing the unions to dictate what’s debated is beyond ridiculous. Yes, I know the old adage about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. But c’mon.

Eager new party members and supporters may quickly run out of patience. Thousands backed Corbyn’s leadership bid expecting he’d pursue an anti-Trident and EU-sceptic line. A head-on crash is inevitable if cherished principles are to be upheld. But if Corbyn continues to fudge, duck and weave, that support may evaporate and those who paid GBP 3 to become Labour supporters may never upgrade to full membership. They, I suspect, want to see blood on the carpet and the pro-Trident, pro-EU Blairite rump given a good kicking, and the unions put in their place. Otherwise, what was the point of the Corbyn revolution? The question is left hanging.

“One firm commitment I make to people who join our Labour Party is that you have a real say, the final say in deciding on the policies of our party,” says Corbyn. “No-one – not me as Leader, not the Shadow Cabinet, not the Parliamentary Labour Party – is going to impose policy or have a veto. The media commentariat don’t get it.

“This is grown up politics,” he continued, “where people put forward different views. We debate issues. We take a decision and we go forward together.”

It’ll be a miracle if it works like that. For all Jeremy Corbyn’s wisdom in the prevailing circumstances, it’s going to sound to people outside the Labour bubble like a leadership cop-out.

Finally, a bright note to end on. Labour MPs were told yesterday that they’d probably get a free vote if Cameron sought parliamentary approval to bomb Syria. But today the conference voted to warn that they should agree to bomb only if such action is authorised by the UN, if there’s a comprehensive humanitarian plan for displaced refugees, and if assurances are received that only ISIS [Islamic State group] is targeted. Diplomacy remained the principle means for bringing the civil war to an end.

Posted in UK0 Comments

Left Unity: another Trotskyist attempt to mislead the working class


Image result for Left Unity LOGO
The latest attempt to divert workers’ burning desire for change down pointless avenues of non-activity takes support for imperialism to a new level by including a class A war criminal amongst its leading lights. 
On 30 November, London’s Royal National Hotel is set to be the venue for the founding conference of yet another self-proclaimed party, purporting to represent the interests of working people in Britain.

Since making an initial appeal in March, Left Unity claims, in a letter published in the Guardian on 12 August, that “more than 9,000 people have signed up and more than 100 local groups have been established across the country”. (‘Left Unity ready to offer an alternative’)

Sounds impressive – and at least in part this apparent surge in support does reflect the mass and growing sentiment for what Left Unity’s self-appointed leaders describe as “a genuine alternative to the austerity policies which the three main parties support”.

However, this apparent support is as genuinely shallow as it is apparently wide. First, it is based on the most flimsy of bases – namely, an appeal to “all those who are sick of austerity and war, who want to defend the NHS and our public services, and want to see a fairer Britain, to join us”.

Secondly, much of the claimed support is of the Facebook type – but clicking ‘Like’ is a long way away from building a viable party.

As a result, much of this claimed support will not survive the first puff of a gentle late autumn breeze, let alone the harsh gales of the class struggle.

Similar vacuity is to be found in the prescription offered by the authors of the above-quoted Guardian letter, with their call: “We urgently need a new party of the left. Labour will not provide the opposition to coalition policies that the situation demands. We need to provide a genuine alternative to the austerity policies which the three main parties support. A party that is socialist, environmentalist, feminist and opposed to all forms of discrimination.”

Their letter begins: “This summer will be remembered for Labour’s final betrayal of the working-class people it was founded to represent. Not content with signing up to Conservative austerity measures that are dragging Britain’s most vulnerable people deeper into poverty, Ed Miliband has turned his back on the union members who supported his leadership bid.”

In other words, a petty spat between Ed Miliband and his chief bankroller, Unite’s Len McCluskey, takes precedence over a century of Labour’s betrayal of the working class and oppressed people at home and abroad and over the blood of millions of people slaughtered in Labour’s imperialist wars, from Malaya to Korea, from Aden to Ireland, and from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Iraq.

In analysing Left Unity therefore, it is necessary to focus less on its claimed 9,000 ‘Facebook friends’ and more on the small group of people driving this initiative.

Who is behind Left Unity?

The original impetus came from new husband and wife team Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin. Both are prominent members of the Stop the War Coalition (and its semi-secretive ‘officers group’), while Kate is best known for being the current (paid) general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and previously its (unpaid) chair.

Like her predecessors in CND, Kate used this position to propagate bourgeois pacifism to the working class (‘disarm yourselves while the ruling class gets tooled up’) and to denounce progressive countries like the DPRK for pursuing modern technology (satellites) and choosing to arm themselves in the face of the ever-present threat of imperialist attack.

A former London District Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), in its final dying days, she has since served stints in the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), Socialist Action and Respect.

Her stint in George Galloway’s Respect was something of a whirlwind romance. Joining together with Andrew just after their marriage, she was almost immediately installed as the party’s parliamentary candidate in a Manchester by-election, only to withdraw her candidature, whilst insisting she would stay a party member, following the furore caused by some unfortunate remarks made by George on the subject of rape in the context of his commenting on the politically-inspired charges being levelled at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

But the pledge to stay and fight in Respect did not last long once she and Andrew discovered that they had been removed from the National Committee. Kate has long been known to be fascinated by the idea of regrouping diverse sections of the left in Europe into broad-front parties, following the collapse of the European socialist countries, and has published two books on this subject. She and Andrew are apparently particularly impressed by the recent strong electoral showing of Greece’s Syriza – and the belief that this can somehow be replicated here has impelled the launch of Left Unity.

Whilst our party is crystal clear on the fact that it is only a vanguard party firmly schooled in and equipped with the science of revolution, Marxism Leninism, that can lead the proletariat and its allies to victory in its struggle against exploitation and oppression, we are by no means opposed to united fronts on particular questions or to unity in struggle in pursuit of agreed objectives and against common enemies.

But, as indeed flows inexorably from this, there has to be at least some minimum benchmark against which such matters can be evaluated. In the case of the first initiators of Left Unity, the hopelessness, and indeed often the venality, of Stop the War and CND notwithstanding, a clear rejection of all imperialist wars would not seem to be too much to ask for.

Alas, right from the start, Left Unity has failed that most basic test. Surrounding themselves with a familiar cast of ‘luvvies’, Kate and Andrew promptly secured the support of veteran film director Ken Loach (notorious for his Land and Freedom, a disgraceful anti-communist film, maligning the Spanish Republic and the heroic International Brigades), and, a little later, China Miéville, a popular science-fiction writer and one of a considerable number of people to have recently decamped from the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) following the rape allegations directed at one of its leading members. (Ironically, the SWP had used Galloway’s remarks on the same subject in an attempt to excoriate him. Its own actions in dealing with the allegations were clearly much worse.)

However, this is by no means the worst. Also climbing on the bandwagon has been the Trotskyite sectlet Socialist Resistance, whose own passion for ‘left regroupment’ is driven by the classic Trot modus operandi of a parasite needing a host – or ‘entryism’, as it is often grandly called.

Thanks to the disastrous tie-up with Socialist Resistance, the third signatory, along with Kate Hudson and Ken Loach, to Left Unity’s initial appeal (as well as subsequently, for example, in the above-quoted Guardian letter) was one Gilbert Achcar, a professor of middle-eastern studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and, more importantly, a rabid proponent of imperialist war against Libya and Syria, and a man who bears and shares political responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in those dirty wars of aggression.

War criminal Achcar

These are, of course, strong charges – so, distasteful as it will undoubtedly be for our readers, we intend to fully condemn Achcar in his own words.

Faced with some limited exposure of his political crimes by others on the left, Achcar has resorted to obfuscation, denial and lies, pompously declaring: “I will not waste my time and that of the readers in reminding them here of what I really stood for.

But the pompous professor cannot dismiss the working-class movement as airily as an undergraduate attempting to submit a late essay. It is a matter of fact that Achcar has not only supported (or as he has sometimes disingenuously put it “refused to oppose”) wars of aggression; he has also provided advice and huddled together in conclave with the intelligence assets of US and French imperialism to discuss the prosecution of those wars.

In March 2011, two days after the passage of UN Resolution 1973, which led to the unleashing of a war of massive proportions against Libya, Achcar published an interview praising that war as a humanitarian operation, aimed at preventing a massacre of civilians in Benghazi.

While noting that “there are not enough safeguards in the wording of the resolution to bar its use for imperialist purposes”, Achcar said: “But given the urgency of preventing the massacre that would inevitably have resulted from an assault on Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces, and the absence of any alternative means of achieving the protection goal, no one can reasonably oppose it … You can’t in the name of anti-imperialist principles oppose an action that will prevent the massacre of civilians.”

In another article, he wrote: “If Gaddafi were permitted to continue his military offensive and take Benghazi, there would be a major massacre”; and “from an anti-imperialist perspective one cannot and should not oppose the no-fly zone, given that there is no plausible alternative for protecting the endangered population”.

Of course, the only massacre that did occur was the one unleashed by imperialism, cheered on and encouraged by Achcar, who, as we shall see below, essentially confined his criticism of the imperialists to their apparently not being bestial enough.

He went on to describe the rats, who very shortly became notorious for their racist massacres of black Libyans, and who, directed and abetted by imperialism, destroyed all the civilisational achievements of the Libyan people, built up over more than four decades, as “a mixture of human-rights activists, democracy advocates, intellectuals, tribal elements, and islamist forces – a very broad coalition … The bottom line is that there is no reason for any different attitude toward them than to any other of the mass uprisings in the region.”

Achcar repeatedly demanded that Nato funnel even more weapons to Libyan terrorist militias. Thus, in a largely sympathetic comment on Obama’s April 2011 speech on the war, he said the best way to “enable the uprising to win, in conformity with the Libyan people’s right to self-determination, is for the hypocritical western governments – who have sold a lot of weapons to Gaddafi since the arms embargo was lifted in October 2004, and Gaddafi turned into a model – to deliver arms to the insurgency”.

Finally, as Libyan government forces began to collapse under relentless Nato air strikes in August 2011, Achcar actually criticised Nato for not striking Libya harder!

He issued a statement citing right-wing Wall Street Journal columnist Max Boot’s observation that Nato warplanes had flown 11,107 sorties against Libya, but 38,004 sorties in the 1999 war against Yugoslavia.

He wrote: “The crucial question then is: why is Nato conducting an aerial campaign in Libya that is low-key not only in comparison with the air component of the war to grab similarly oil-rich Iraq, but even compared to the air war for economically unimportant Kosovo? And why is the alliance at the same time refraining from providing the insurgents with the weaponry they have consistently and insistently requested?

In a more recent piece, Achcar sought to distort the facts surrounding his October 2011 meeting in Sweden with Burhan Ghalioun, the first chairman of the opposition Syrian Transitional National Council (SNC). During this meeting, he advised Ghalioun not to call for a Nato invasion of Syria – which would risk provoking mass popular opposition – but rather for “indirect” intervention to arm opposition forces.

In the event, this is exactly the policy that Nato and its regional stooges ultimately pursued, arming the SNC and other islamist opposition forces, including some tied to al-Qaeda, leading to a terrible war in which the Syrian people have suffered bitterly.

Subsequently, Achcar has denounced as a “canard” claims that “I took part in a meeting of the Syrian National Council (whereas it was actually a meeting of the left-wing National Coordination Council) in order to urge them to call for an imperialist intervention in Syria (whereas my contribution to the meeting was dedicated to exactly the opposite)”.

His denial is simply rubbish and lies. He himself publicly announced that he had met with Ghalioun and described his advice to the SNC in an article published in November 2011 in the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar. The French Trotskyite New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) reposted the article, as did the English-language website International Viewpoint, the journal of the wing of the Trotskyite Fourth International which Achcar, the NPA and Socialist Resistance all adhere to.

In this article, he wrote: “I was able to attend the meeting of the Syrian opposition that was held on 8-9 October in Sweden, near the capital, Stockholm. A number of male and female activists operating in Syria and abroad joined with prominent figures from the Syrian Coordination Committee (SNC – who had come from Syria for the event) in the presence of the most prominent member of the Syrian National Council – its president, Burhan Ghalioun.”

Achcar can lie all he wants, but the evidence of his crimes is splattered all over the internet, in his own words.

In April this year, he gave an interview to Amandla (a leftist South African publication opposed to the ANC and the South African Communist Party) calling for the arming of the Syrian terrorists:

“As in Libya, it [Washington] refuses to deliver weapons to the insurgency despite insistent requests … The truth is that the war has dragged on much longer than it might have, had the insurgency received weapons.”

He continued: “Every general rule admits of exceptions. This includes the general rule that UN-authorised military interventions by imperialist powers are purely reactionary ones, and can never achieve a humanitarian or positive purpose.”

Writing in the Lebanese Al Akhbar, he advised the Syrian counter-revolutionaries as to how they might best secure foreign intervention:

The Syrian opposition must define a clear stance on the issue of foreign military intervention, since it is clear that its position has a major influence on whether or not intervention might take place. The reluctance regarding direct intervention that we see today on the part of western and regional states might change tomorrow if intervention requests made on behalf of the Syrian opposition were to increase. 

It was the Libyan National Council’s request for international military intervention at the beginning of March that paved the way for the similar request issued by the Arab League, and the subsequent resolution of the UN Security Council. Had the Libyan opposition opposed direct military intervention in all its forms (instead of just opposing intervention on the ground and requesting air support, as it did), the Arab League would not have sought intervention nor would such action have been sanctioned by the UN.”

By 1 September, following the vote in the British parliament against taking overt military action in Syria (see separate article in this issue), Achcar was at it again. Writing on the Open Democracy website, he was at pains to appear to welcome the vote – but only because the type of military action he believed was being contemplated did not go far enough for his liking.

Writing as a “staunch opponent of the Syrian Baathist regime”, he stressed that he welcomed the vote “even though, on the face of it, the decision in this instance spared one of the most ruthless and murderous dictatorships”, but continued, referring to those parliamentarians who had voted against war:

They did so not out of ‘pacifism’ for sure, let alone ‘anti-imperialism’, but for the same reason that made western opinion makers in their vast majority display a patent lack of sympathy for the cause of the Syrian popular uprising. This reason is above all the lack of confidence in the Syrian uprising, as US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey openly confessed most recently.”

Let Professor Achcar continue:

The third reason to welcome the parliamentary vote is the one most directly predicated on my resolute support to the Syrian popular uprising. The military action that is being contemplated by Washington is about dealing the murderous Syrian regime a few military blows in order to ‘punish’ it for the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

I have hardly any doubt that the Syrian regime did resort to such weapons in its barbaric onslaught on the Syrian people … But this begs the question: is killing up to fifteen hundred people with chemical weapons more serious a crime than killing over a hundred thousand with ‘conventional’ weapons? Why then does Washington want to strike now suddenly after placidly watching the Syrian people being slaughtered, its country devastated, and survivors in the millions turned into refugees and displaced persons?

The truth is that the forthcoming strikes are only intended as a means to restore the ‘credibility’ of the US and its allies in the face of an alliance of the Syrian, Iranian, and Russian governments that has taken full liberty in escalating the war on the Syrian people despite all US calls for compromise …

These strikes will not help the Syrian people: they will increase the destruction and death toll without enabling the Syrians to get rid of their tyrant. They are not intended for this latter goal. In fact, Washington does not want the Syrian people to topple the dictatorship: it wants to force on the Syrian opposition a deal with the bulk of the regime, minus Assad …

However, by denying the mainstream of the Syrian opposition the defensive anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons that they have been requesting for almost two years, while Russia and Iran were abundantly purveying the Syrian regime with weapons (and recently with combatants from Iran and its regional allies), the US administration only managed to achieve two results: on the one hand, it has allowed the Syrian regime to keep the upper hand militarily and thus to believe that it can win; hence, the regime has had no incentive whatsoever to make any concessions …

Had western powers really cared for the Syrian people – or even had Washington been more clever in creating the conditions for the compromise it has been seeking – it would have been easy for them to equip the Syrian opposition with defensive weapons, thus enabling the uprising to turn the tide of the war in such a way as to precipitate a break-up of the regime … It is this reality that refutes the argument of many well-meaning people that arms should be denied to the Syrian opposition because the death toll will be increased.”

He concluded his article with these words: “In the face of the horrible crimes being perpetrated by the Assad regime with the support of Russia, Iran and Iran’s allies, it is the duty of all those who claim to support the right of peoples to self-determination to help the Syrian people get the means of defending themselves.”

He further provided his own brief summary by means of a letter carried in the Evening Standard of 2 September, where he wrote:

All Washington is contemplating, however, is dealing the Syrian regime a few hits to punish it for having used chemical weapons repeatedly. The message is thus: ‘You can carry on slaughtering your people but we forbid you to use weapons whose impact could cross your borders, harming our allies in Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.’ Such strikes will merely increase the death toll without speeding up resolution of the conflict.

The only way to achieve this latter goal is to equip the [mythical] mainstream secular opposition with the defensive anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons it has been requesting for almost two years.”

After this, doubtless tiresome and tortuous, digression through the depraved mind of Professor Achcar, one is surely entitled to ask: Of what possible benefit can a political outfit with such a criminal in one of its driving seats be to the working class?

In fact, Achcar’s ravings remind us of nothing so much as these never-to-be-forgotten words of JV Stalin:

But it follows from this that present-day Trotskyism can no longer be called a political trend in the working class. Present-day Trotskyism is not a political trend in the working class but a gang without principle, without ideas, of wreckers, diversionists, intelligence service agents, spies, murderers, a gang of sworn enemies of the working class, working in the pay of the intelligence services of foreign states.” (‘Mastering Bolshevism’, report to the CC of the CPSU(B), 3 March 1937)

:: The People s Assembly must beware the Grand Old Duke of York, CPGB-ML leaflet (June 2013)

Posted in Politics, UK0 Comments

MI5 and the jihadists: an unholy alliance



Britain’s secret services and reactionary islamists united against Syria.
On 13 March, a teenager from London’s Kurdish community, who was allegedly trying to join a Kurdish military women’s unit fighting against the Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria, was herself charged with a terrorist offence and remanded in custody to Holloway prison.Shilan Ozcelik, aged 18, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport and is charged with engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to join the Women’s Protection Units that have fought heroically for the liberation of Kobane from the IS thugs.

Considering the saturation propaganda concerning the barbaric practices of IS (all the better to demonise all people of muslim heritage), one might be forgiven for thinking that Ms Ozcelik would be commended for her courage and her desire to help her people. But clearly one would in fact be very wrong to do so.

Indeed, increasing evidence shows that, all the propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, the imperialists’ ‘secret state’ is working hand-in-glove with reactionary islamist terrorism. And, as they share the same objective, to destroy any secular, progressive, democratic or socialist-oriented government in the muslim world, it is only natural that they should do so.

This unholy alliance is at work in Syria today, as it was in Libya yesterday, in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, in Afghanistan in the 1980s, in Nasser’s Egypt in the 1960s, and so on.

Image result for Moazzam Begg PHOTO

Moazzam Begg

One central figure in this current enterprise is former Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg. On 2 October 2014, under the heading, ‘Moazzam Begg was in contact with MI5 about his Syria visit, papers show; Defence case corroborated as documents revealed agency told Begg he could continue work for opposition in Syria “unhindered”’, the Guardiannewspaper reported:

“The terrorism case against former Guantánamo inmate Moazzam Begg collapsed after MI5 belatedly gave police and prosecutors a series of documents that detailed the agency’s extensive contacts with him before and after his trips to Syria, the Guardian has learned.

The documents included minutes of meetings that MI5 officers and lawyers held with Begg, at which he discussed his travel plans and explained he was assisting opposition fighters in their war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“On seeing the material, Crown prosecutors realised it corroborated Begg’s defence case: he insists he was always perfectly candid with MI5, and says the agency assured him no attempt would be made to hinder him if he wanted to return to Syria.

“Begg’s lawyers had disclosed that the meetings had taken place earlier this year during a hearing in open court during which they made an unsuccessful attempt to secure Begg’s release on bail.

“On Wednesday prosecutors told an Old Bailey judge they had ‘recently become aware of relevant material’, and would be offering no evidence against Begg.

“The judge formally entered not guilty pleas on all seven of the terrorism charges that Begg was facing, and he was freed from Belmarsh high-security prison in south London a few hours later.”

The report went on to state that “it is now clear that police and prosecution lawyers involved with the case are angry that the documents were disclosed to them after Begg had spent several months in prison on remand … The Crown Prosecution Service says that had it possessed the material, Begg would not have been charged.

According to the Guardian report: “After the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011, Begg made several trips to the country, most recently in December 2012 … However, he maintains that during this time he had been in close contact with the intelligence services, keeping them abreast of his plans … 

In the meeting Begg said MI5 were concerned about ‘the possibility of Britons in Syria being radicalised and returning to pose a potential threat to national security. I told them that Britain had nothing to worry about, especially since British foreign policy, at the time, seemed in favour of the rebels.’

“Begg then says he was ‘assured by MI5’ that he could return to Syria and continue his work ‘unhindered’.”

Image result for Jihadi John PHOTO

Jihadi John

Begg is closely associated with a pro-fundamentalist outfit called Cage. In February, further details emerged of the kind of company he and they keep, when the psychopathic butcher dubbed ‘Jihadi John’ in the media – a participant in a vicious and illegal war against the government and people of Syria, and star of revolting IS ‘snuff movies’ depicting the decapitation of hostages – was unveiled as one Mohammed Emwazi, a man who it transpires had numerous contacts with both Cage and MI5.

Bizarrely, Cage maintains that MI5’s attempts to recruit Emwazi are responsible for turning him into a sadistic monster. Prior to this, claimed Cage director Asim Qureshi at a London press conference, Emwazi was an “extremely kind” and “extremely gentle man”.

Whatever the exact relationship between Emwazi and MI5, what nobody has disputed is that he was on their radar in some shape or form for years. Yet, unlike the unfortunate Ms Ozcelik, and despite his apparently being deported from Tanzania years ago at MI5’s behest, he was allowed to slip away unhindered to Syria.

Perhaps this is not so surprising, seeing as how the Islamic State and the British imperialist state are united in their view that “Assad must go”.


Image result for Michael Adebolajo PHOTO

Michael Adebolajo

Nor is Emwazi’s the only case of its kind. One of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo had been “on MI5’s radar” for 10 years and also had extensive contacts with Cage.

The Mail on Sunday reported: “MI5 let Adebolajo go to Kenya where he had terror training and its agents failed to monitor him properly when he returned … After Adebolajo was arrested for butchering Fusilier Rigby, he refused to tell counter-terrorism police where he lived. But in a telling remark, the Old Bailey was told he said ‘MI5 could provide the location because they had visited him earlier this year’.” (‘MI5 tried to recruit Rigby’s killer: agents were courting islamic fanatic just weeks before Woolwich horror’, 19 December 2013)

The Guardian reportedCage also represented the family of Michael Adebolajo, the man who butchered Lee Rigby in a London street in May 2013. After the terrorist atrocity Cage revealed that Adebolajo, seemingly like Emwazi, had been harassed by the security services prior to his violent action.”(‘Cage: the campaigners put in the spotlight by Mohammed Emwazi’, 26 February 2015)

Image result for STOP THE WAR LOGO

Shame of Stop the War

What passes for an anti-war movement in this country has said and done nothing in support of Shilan Ozcelik.

But who, one might ask, chaired the surreal press conference where the killer Emwazi was lovingly described as ‘extremely kind’ and ‘extremely gentle’? None other than John Rees, top honcho of the Stop the War Coalition and of the counter-revolutionary Trotskyite sect Counterfire.

It will be recalled that the CPGB-ML was unconstitutionally expelled from Stop the War for our exposure of its misleadership’s support for the counter-revolutionary war unleashed against the progressive Gaddafi government in Libya – a war that has left that once proud African country in ruins. However, the stench from StW’s political corpse is now more revolting than even we could have imagined.

Posted in UK0 Comments

Stop the War leaders and Libya: you can’t expel the truth


Record numbers turn out to vote and show their support for President Bashar Al Assad and his government. Damascus, 26 February 2012

Record numbers turn out to vote and show their support for President Bashar Al Assad and his government. Damascus, 26 February 2012

Download this article as a statement

By attempting to unconstitutionally rescind CPGB-ML’s affiliation to the Stop the War coalition, StW ‘leaders’ are behaving in a criminally sectarian and cowardly manner.

Cowardly, because the Labour party, Counterfire and CPB leaders who dominate our coalition’s executive seek, by unconstitutionally expelling the CPGB-ML, to silence criticism and avoid having their failed policies on Libya in particular, and lack of consistent anti-imperialism more generally, scrutinised and overturned.

They seek to avoid answering to the coalition’s membership and having the truth behind these failures exposed: that their cosy relations with ‘left Labour’ (German-Benn, Murray-Corbyn, etc) and their personal political stock-in-trade are more dear to them than the stated aims of the StW coalition they purport to uphold.

That is why, at the crucial moment, rather than leading British workers to oppose Nato’s genocide in Libya, their personally cherished ideas and relations led StW to parrot the predatory propaganda of British imperialism, which was hell-bent on waging war upon Libya and the devastating this beautiful, historic, cultured and formerly most prosperous sovereign African nation – all in pursuit of Nato’s strategy of capital aggrandisement, regional and world domination.

All of which begs the question: can an anti-war movement be effectively led by members and supporters of a party that condones and conducts those wars?

Libya – a betrayal

Throughout the Libyan crisis, the conduct of the Stop the War Coalition was shameful, bringing us nothing but ignominy in the eyes of the world’s oppressed and struggling masses.

Prior to Nato’s bombardment, when US/British/French intervention was a little less blatant (very much in the vein of its current plot against Syria), conducted via MI6, CIA and other covert operatives, and through the funding of motley feudal and criminal elements, StW organised a demonstration. But this ‘anti-war’ demonstration was not against imperialism and its mercenaries in Benghazi, but against the Gaddafi government!

Owen Jones wrote on the StW website: “Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive. In both his anti-western and pro-western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator. I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neocons.

Andrew Murray, wrote in the Morning Star, while Nato’s blitzkrieg was underway, that “it is wrong to assert that the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”.

Is that so?

CPGB-ML, a member of the Stop the War Coalition since its inception, did not fall for this pro-imperialist whitewash, and on 11 March 2011 we issued a leaflet calling for the defence of Libya and its government. This was a principled and coherent anti-imperialist stance, which has stood the test of time. We are proud to have promoted it, among British workers and activists – including those of the StW coalition – as part of our activity to oppose illegal and genocidal Nato wars, in Libya and elsewhere.

The text of our March 2011 Hands off Libya! victory to Gaddafi!  statement is freely available.

Further, in August 2011, we issued a leaflet calling on workers to “support the resistance” and denounce StW treachery”.

It contained the following – remarkably restrained – criticism of StW’s position:

Some people and organisations, such as Stop the War, have been bamboozled by the non-stop and ubiquitous Goebbelsian propaganda that has spewed forth from the imperialist media ever since Gaddafi’s regime was put in place into believing that he is some kind of a monster who must be overthrown at all costs. In view of his record in defending the interests of the Libyan people, such an approach is absurd.

Stop the War, dominated as it is by organisations that devote themselves to spreading illusions in social democracy (ie, futile hopes that solutions for the working class and oppressed people are to be found within capitalism), still finds itself cheerleading for Gaddafi’s opponents: their only reason for opposing imperialist military intervention is that it may be harmful to the cause of imperialism’s local agents in Libya!

Down with social-democratic treachery; down with imperialism!

John Rees and the ‘Don’t Mention the War’ campaign

With the lack of political will to defend Libya from imperialist attack, there was a corresponding dearth of activity on the ground. What happened to ‘our’ alleged ability to mobilise 2-million-strong marches, like the one held in February 2003 before the invasion of Iraq, which is so often cited and trumpeted? This kind of capitulation before the Nato juggernaut has made us an increasing irrelevance to British workers.

As tomahawk cruise missiles, bunker busters, white phosphorous and depleted uranium rained down on Libya, pulverising Tripoli and Sirte, targeting all progressive Libyans, and in particular Col Muammar Gaddafi – whose infant grandchildren were among the early victims of Nato’s dark forces – John Rees apparently felt no shame, declaring (in a similar vein to Liam Fox and William Hague) on a YouTube interview that “nobody is going to shed a tear for the fall of this brutal dictator [Gaddafi]”.

He further advised the quisling ‘Transitional National Council’ (in reality a front forTrans-National Corporations) to gain credibility by “telling the major powers where to get off” – ie, to adopt his own tactic of dressing up an imperialist campaign in ‘anti-imperialist’ colours. No doubt this would have been convenient for Rees, but the heartless clerics had another agenda.

During the bombing campaign, StW leadership belatedly declared its half-hearted opposition to the imperialist bombing campaign – not because they disagreed with Nato’s aims, but because it believed their methods were not effective enough. Bombing, they said, “would merely serve to bolster Gaddafi’s position, and thus undermine the cause of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime” – which principle aim of imperialism in Libya, ‘Stop the War’ leaders continued to cherish and support.

We published a statement on 8 September, pointing out that with ‘anti-war friends’ like these, the Libyan people might well ask, Who needs enemies?

StW leaders – as the 2012 national conference agenda attests – barely make reference to their betrayal of Libya, as despite some mild queasiness and reservations they remain broadly in support of Gaddafi’s lynching.

Nor is the struggle in Libya – like the struggle in Iraq – over. Resistance is regrouping, even after the wholesale slaughter of the flower of Libya’s anti-imperialist leadership. The Green flag has been raised in Bani Walid, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere – long after Hilary Clinton stopped cackling with glee over the gruesome imagery of Gaddafi’s murder.

For while the feudal thugs of Nato’s TNC run amok in Libya, committing mass violations of its citizens’ rights, including (among other things) kidnapping, raping and murdering Libyan women, and lynching anyone with black skin, while helping Nato bandits to help themselves to Libya’s oil and financial wealth, there can be no peace.

Let us all reflect – if there was previously any room for doubt – that these are not the actions of a popular-democratic revolution, but the pogroms of a decaying, imperialist-backed feudal movement attempting to divide and destroy the unity and progressive sentiment built over 40 years among the formerly free Libyan people. Their gains can only be temporary; their ultimate defeat is certain.

Genocide and ethnic cleansing have been perpetrated, a nation stolen, its resources subsumed into the coffers of imperialist finance capital. The issue for us to address is that all the criticism from our ‘anti-war’ group was directed, not against Obama, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Balls, or the hosts of retainers without whom the war could not have been waged, but against its victims.

A ‘broad’ movement – the cry was ‘Unity’!

StW leaders frequently call for unity. It is interesting to compare their words with their deeds. Their response to CPGB-ML criticism of their anti-Libya propaganda was not reason or even attempted justification, but sectarian bureaucracy.

On 23 September, the CPGB-ML received an email from the Stop the War Coalition informing us of a decision by the “officers group” to “reject the affiliation” of our party. We were told that this was on the basis that the CPGB-ML had been “publicly attacking Stop the War Coalition” in its publications.

We again brought the debate back to the real issues, in our October statement.

Lindsey German sent a follow-up email clarifying that “the officers” felt that our “reported recent characterisation of some of them, including our chair Jeremy Corbyn, as ‘pro imperialists’ or ‘traitors’ was unacceptable from an affiliated organisation. We understand that sometimes debate on issues becomes heated, but feel that we could only consider affiliating you if there were assurances that you would not make such remarks in the future.

But when did StW declare its ‘officers group’ to be above criticism – on pain of expulsion? In what statute or officers group meeting minute is this ruling secreted away? We are certainly not aware of it. And how is the policy of a broad coalition to be corrected, if it errs, without criticism?

John Rees, speaking at StW’s 2010 AGM, which had just passed the CPGB-ML’s No cooperation with war crimes resolution thundered:

“I personally support the call for victory to the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan – but I also know that the strength of our campaign comes from its breadth … And if this slogan puts off our affiliates – like the Quakers – then I am against it, and oppose the resolution.” (From memory)

Here is a fine thing. Counterfire leader John Rees opposing his own fervently held beliefs to hold a broad coalition together – for how can we have an anti-war movement without Quakers? (Incidentally, no Quaker we have ever spoken to – and we have spoken to a surprising number, although admittedly not at StW meetings – disagrees with the idea that an oppressed nation or people has the right to defend itself.)

Consistent anti-imperialism is just too far ahead of the curve, you see. Obviously, Rees is well up for the fight against British imperialism, but you know, these Quakers just aren’t gonna go for it, so – regrettably – the deal’s off. His speech, delivered to a carefully managed but highly spirited conference, was just enough to (narrowly) defeat the motion.

The choice: oppose Nato or compromise with imperialism

The real choice, of course, is not ‘Quakers or communists’, but whether the aim of StW can be reconciled with the class interests of the capitalists who wage these wars. If we are serious about actually stopping war, the CPGB-ML believes that we must oppose the capitalist imperialist system that on a daily and weekly basis engenders war – and campaign to raise British workers’ awareness of the actions of their own ruling class at home and abroad. This inevitably involves confronting groups and cliques that directly or indirectly support social democracy with the contradictions in their own political position.

Logically, that includes challenging the social-democratic ‘leaders’ of left Labour whotalk of their opposition to war while in practice make their careers out of sitting in the parties of war and asking workers to support those parties at every juncture. We cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

Learning lessons for the future – defend Syria!

All this is not simply an academic exercise in point scoring. There are very real practical consequences for our work next week, next month and next year, which make it of vital importance that the coalition should learn lessons and correct its stance.

Since the fall of Libya, all Stop the War’s national efforts have been directed at pointing out the threat of war against Iran. And while that threat is very real, and must certainly be mobilised against, such activity cannot be allowed to act as a cover for ignoring the much more imminent threat against that other sovereign anti-imperialist nation in the Middle East: Syria.

As well as carving out an independent economic path free from the diktat of the IMF and World Bank, Syria is home to the headquarters of many Palestinian resistance movements, and a firm supporter of Lebanon’s anti-imperialist resistance movement, Hizbollah. Millions of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees have made their homes there, and the country is Iran’s strongest regional ally, as well as being an implacable foe of Israel. Although described by western media as a ‘dictator’, President Bashar al-Assad is actually the leader of a broad-based coalition government of national unity, which comprises many political parties, including communists. All of which makes the country a prime target for imperialism’s guns.

The aggressive war being prepared by Nato and its regional stooges against Syria is using all the same tricks that were applied in the case of Libya. Nato is funding, training and arming disparate opposition and terrorist groups and parachuting in covert special forces to give them vital support, while Nato’s leaders push through UN resolutions about ‘democracy’ and the ‘safety of the people’ and, of course, orchestrate a hysterical media campaign of lies and disinformation.

And while some people do seem to have learned a lesson from the carnage in Libya, the Stop the War leadership does not yet seem to be among their number. Yet again, the coalition’s leaders are failing to take a consistently anti-imperialist and anti-war position; yet again, they are failing to stand up against the media lies and declare themselves to be on the side of the Syrian masses against Nato imperialism.

Instead of standing firmly against war on Syria, Stop the War leaders prefer not to talk about it. The recent picket for Iran and Syria didn’t feature a single speaker for Syria on the platform, and its recent emails refer to Syria only in passing.

Instead of standing up to imperialist propaganda, the Stop the War website carries articles referring to “Bashar al-Assad’s killing machine” while John Rees uses his television show to consistently denounce the legitimate government and legitimise Nato’s stooges, including the MI6-backed ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’. Once more, Stop the War’s ‘opposition’ to Nato seems to be based more on tactical grounds than on any real ideological difference.

Let no-one be under any illusion: not only is a beautiful, cultured, independent country and its people under threat, but the illegal war already being waged by covert forces in Syria is a stepping-stone to even bloodier war against Iran, and from there to war against China and Russia. In a very real sense, Syria today stands in the same place as did the Spanish republic in 1936. British workers and progressive people need to stand side by side with the Syrian masses, demanding: Hands off Syria! Victory to Assad!

And above all, we must start to use our collective power to prevent the British ruling class from taking part in this criminal and barbaric conflagration.

CPGB-ML’s work on Libya and Syria:


On Libya
On Syria

Video presentations

Arab spring, Libya and Stop the War (Dec 2011)

Gaddafi tribute in London (Oct 2011)

Libya, a media war (Oct 2011)

PAIGC on Libya and Gaddafi (Sep 2011)

Eyewitness report-back from Libya (June 2011)

Imperialism’s interest in Syria (May 2011)

Libya, Syria and the Middle East (Reply to questions, May 2011)

Libya, Syria discussion (May 2011)

Posted in Libya, UK0 Comments

StW opposes solidarity with Libya under the false guise of the need for ‘unity’

 Image result for STOP THE WAR LOGO

A letter from Bristol comrades, 9 May 2011

The sickest joke to come out of Stop the War’s reactionary stance on Libya has been the accusation that members of StW who stand in solidarity with the Gaddafi-led Libyan revolution are a divisive influence within the anti-war movement and should pipe down at public meetings, reserving their distasteful minority opinions for under-the-counter retail (or preferably shut up all together).

Yet what has truly divided and weakened the anti-war movement, indexed by the dwindling of national anti-war demonstrations from millions to hundreds, has been the perennial reluctance of the leadership to consistently call for victory to the Afghan and Iraqi resistance, a stance that has finally degenerated into John Rees’s open support for the imperialist-backed Benghazi rebellion.

Rees and co have since scrambled back to a stance that they hope will rescue their ‘progressive’ reputations (basically ’stop bombing Libya, you’ll only make it harder to get rid of Gaddafi’), a clumsy and hypocritical manoeuvre which will fool few and inspire none.

It is this misleadership, and StW’s resulting failure to give an anti-imperialist lead as capitalist crisis breeds fresh wars, which undermines and weakens the movement.

We are constantly told that our anti-imperialist stance risks alienating some supporters of StW’s (somewhat narrow) broad front. It is not impossible that some overly sensitive petty-bourgeois liberals might find the atmosphere uncongenial in an anti-war movement which had learned to outgrow its social-democratic prejudices, however many times it was spelt out to such individuals that their presence within the broad movement remained welcome.

But right now, we need to understand why the ‘broad’ front in reality remains so very narrow; how it is that the mass of working people do not actively embrace the cause of peace and withdraw their cooperation with imperialism’s wars. What is it about StW’s approach that so severely limits its scope?

The fact is that, so long as those leading the anti-war movement refuse to give solidarity to the forces that are resisting imperialist aggression on the ground, they will be keeping British workers divided from their real allies in the fight against monopoly capitalism and its wars, hindering them in the indivisible struggle for socialism and peace.

As Karl Marx wrote, no nation that enslaves another can itself be free. The failure to give consistent and wholehearted support to those defending Libya’s sovereignty with arms in hand can only weaken and divide the anti-war movement.

It is not the CPGB-ML and fellow internationalists who pose a threat to the unity and progress of the anti-war movement, but the rotten Trotskyite and revisionist politics that infect the upper echelons of StW and wash back into its branches, rendering the movement vulnerable to being shoved off course by every new wave of imperialist propaganda.

Whilst we have never taken a sectarian approach in our work with StW, cultivating good personal relations with fellow coalitionists from all backgrounds, we cannot shirk the responsibility of identifying the destructive and divisive influence of those political agendas behind which some remain trapped.

Particularly damaging is the Trotskyite combination of deep historical pessimism (’the Soviet Union was a disaster; the working class has nowhere taken and held power and gone on to build socialism’) with the most light-minded optimism over the probability of finding some ‘progressive’ needle in the stinking reactionary Benghazi haystack, some (as yet undocumented) perfect Trotskyite strand within the (very well-documented) hotch-potch of monarchists, veteran opponents of the revolution, paid assassins and mercenaries.

Whilst one might think that their own historical pessimism should instil in them a degree of caution, the reverse is the case. In fact, the phony optimism is about as healthy as the hectic flush on the face of a fever patient, and serves one purpose alone: to make it easier to abdicate political responsibility.

Why endure the unpopularity of standing by the Gaddafi revolution when you can have your cake and eat it, standing shoulder to shoulder with the BBC cheering on the rebels, whilst simultaneously posturing as ‘anti-imperialists’?

With the same glad heart, the same gentry lined up with Thatcher to cheer on Solidarnosc (or ‘progressive elements’ supposedly lurking within that anti-communist lynch mob) against the Polish workers’ state, helping prepare the ground for the subsequent liquidation of socialism.

‘Neither Washington nor Moscow’ was their mantra then, ‘Neither Gaddafi nor Nato’ is their mantra now. Will we wake next week or next month to ‘Neither Damascus nor Nato’, ‘Neither Teheran nor Nato’ or ‘Neither Pyongyang nor Nato’? What about ‘Neither Beijing nor Nato’?

The anti-war movement faces stormy times ahead, where the warmongering scenarios will be getting ever messier and more complex and the choices to be made ever more knotty. (By comparison, Libya should have been a no brainer.) The movement’s ability to weather these storms will increasingly depend upon its ability to grow up politically and develop a consistent anti-imperialist perspective.

We in the CPGB-ML stand ready to assist in this endeavour.

Posted in Libya, UK0 Comments


Shoah’s pages

Join our mailing list

* = required field
October 2015
« Sep