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UK Labour Party stuck in the “Dark Ages”

Labour Party in the Dark Ages

A merry tale of how the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) anti-Semitism code is used to spawn a medieval tyranny that can ruin lives and political careers under the noses of “we-know-what’s-best” party leaders.

By Stuart Littlewood

Last week the French Republic’s Human Rights Award was presented at the Ministry of Justice in Paris to this year’s winners. At the ceremony, B’TselemExecutive Director Hagai El-Ad thanked the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights for the award and said of Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians:

The occupation… is organised, prolonged state violence which brings about dispossession, killings and oppression. All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats.

Most of us have known this for years, but when an Israeli rights group utters the truth in such stark terms it’s time to cheer. The crimes of that repulsive regime are no longer a secret. So, why should anyone take the slightest notice of those who pimp and bully and lobby on its behalf?

Can we now “be of Good Cheer”?

No. While celebrating the Christmas season of goodwill consider this not-so-heartwarming tale from the Labour Party. Two Scottish Labour politicians are falsely accused of anti-Semitic remarks. One is a former MP now a regional councillor (let’s call him A), the other a well-respected female regional councillor (B).

For more than three months the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, and then the general-gecretary, Brian Roy, have dodged requests for an update on the suspension and public shaming of A before he was given a hearing, and the party’s similarly rough treatment of B.

Labour has been severely criticised from all quarters for taking a ludicrously long time to deal with allegations of “anti-Semitism” that are often false or vexatious and could be dismissed in five minutes. Constituency party officials declared A guilty and issued a press statement to that effect without waiting for him to be heard, hugely prejudicing any investigation. This idiocy was compounded by his council leader calling on him to resign as a councillor and saying his thinking belonged to the Dark Ages: “To smear an entire community both past and present, to say he has lost ‘all empathy’ for them is utterly deplorable,” he was quoted in the press.

What was A’s “crime”? He had tweeted:

For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer, due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain…

Was nobody else aware that the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which claim to represent the Jewish community in the UK, were leading a vicious campaign against Labour and Jeremy Corbyn?

B was accused of anti-Semitism by a former Labour MP who, in 2015, wrote to the culture secretary urging a debate to ban Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a best seller. He claimed many would argue that it is “too offensive to be made available” and there was “a compelling case for a national debate on whether there should be limits on the freedom of expression”.

A Tory MP then put the boot in, telling the media it was clear to the vast majority of people that B was no longer fit to hold office and suspension didn’t go far enough. Who was that MP? The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews which is funded, supported and administered by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a major player in the campaign to vilify Corbyn and weaken the Labour Party.

Isn’t this something the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner ought to look into?

And what was B’s “crime”? She had the audacity to voice suspicion on social media that Israeli spies might be plotting to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader after three Jewish newspapers ganged up to publish a joint front page warning that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.

She added that if it was a Mossad-assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour government (which would be pledged to recognise Palestine) it amounted to an unwarranted interference in our democracy. For good measure, she said Israel was a racist state and since the Palestinians are also Semites, an anti-Semitic state too.

B was interviewed by party investigators in early September. They surely knew that in January 2017 a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, had plotted with stooges among British MPs and other maggots in the political woodwork to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan. And that Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s former chief spokesman and the con-artist behind Israel’s hasbaraprogramme of disinformation, had recently arrived in London as the new ambassador.

Masot was almost certainly a Mossad tool. His hostile scheming was revealed not by Britain’s own security services and media, as one would have wished, but by an AlJazeera undercover team. Our government dismissed the matter saying: “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.” But not everyone considered it closed and at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting Israel insider Miko Peled warned:

they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn… the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument…

Given the blatant attempt by an Israeli asset to undermine British democracy, with Regev in the background and – what’s the betting? – Mossad pulling the strings, B’s suspicions were reasonable enough.

As for Israel being a racist state, its ethnic cleansing and other brutal policies over 70 years make it obvious. And the discriminatory Nation-State laws recently imposed by Israel reinforce the fact. The point about anti-Semitism is also fair comment. DNA research shows that only a tiny proportion of Jews are Semitic (see, for example, the Johns Hopkins University study published by Oxford University Press) whereas most indigenous Arabs in the Holy Land, especially Palestinians, are Semites. “Anti-Semitism”, although long used to describe hatred of Jews, is a term that’s misused.

Weeks later B posted on her Facebook page that she was still suspended from the Labour Party and added this anguished message:

I can’t make any decisions about my personal, political, or professional future whilst this hangs over me. I am constantly tired and anxious, and feel I am making mistakes. I have lost paid work because of what has happened.

In total, she had to wait 16 weeks under sentence.

What account is taken of the right to free expression?

In these two cases a simple, informal assessment at the beginning would have shown no need for formal action. The council leader mentioned earlier raised the spectre of Dark Ages thinking, and today we see it at the very heart of Labour.

Councillors don’t “belong” to the the Labour Party or any other party; they belong to the public who elected them as their representative. No jumped-up party official should be allowed to interfere with their freedom of thought and action. What account is taken by Labour of the right to free expression guaranteed by international convention and domestic law? Have Labour’s investigators heeded the warnings by top legal opinion (for example, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Sir Stephen Sedley) that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is “most unsatisfactory” and has no legal force, and using it to punish could be unlawful?

And thank-you, B’Tselem, for pulling the rug from under the feet of the various friends of Israel who for decades have supported a criminal project that is a chief cause of conflict in the Middle East and here at home within our political system.

Back to B. Her suspension is now lifted but she is “advised” not to post about it or she’ll risk losing professional work on which her livelihood depends. WHAT??? If the party has lifted its suspension shouldn’t it issue a public statement saying so? Should the wrongly accused be left struggling to re-establish her good name?

In the meantime I have heard nothing from A. He is not answering emails and there is nothing in the press. Has his suspension been lifted? I simply don’t know, although I phoned and wrote again to the leader and the general-gecretary for an explanation. Brian Roy eventually replied that “the Labour Party cannot, and does not, share personal details about individual party members” and placing a member in administrative suspension “allows a process of investigation to be carried out whilst protecting the reputation of the Labour Party”. Oh really? So, how did the media get news of these suspensions in the first place? And what about the damage done to the reputations of the two councillors and their months of anguish? Anyway, I wasn’t asking for case details. All I wanted was the answer to three simple questions:

(1) Have the suspensions been lifted?

(2) If so, has the party issued a public statement to that effect?

(3) And if the suspensions are lifted, have the false accusers been disciplined?

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UK Labour Party: a sad end, or a bold new beginning? 

Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader

By Stuart Littlewood

UK Labour Party bosses are on a suicide mission to block support for the party’s most likely saviour, Jeremy Corbyn, who has emerged as the front-runner in the leadership contest.

Interim leader Harriet Harman is reported to have given orders to weed out hard lefties and other presumed mischief-makers, such as Tories, who are said to be joining the Party in droves in order to vote for the maverick Corbyn. Anyone who is not a member may apply to register as a Labour “supporter”, on payment of GBP 3, and receive a ballot paper provided they declare: “I support the aims and values of the Labour Party, and I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.”

Harman’s credentials, by the way, include voting for the Iraq war and against an investigation, as did the other leading contenders Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper (though not Corbyn, of course).

What makes party bosses even more jumpy is the announcement by George Galloway that he will rejoin Labour if Corbyn wins. This prospect strikes fear into the very heart of the Blairite/Brownite rump’s comfort zone.

Galloway was expelled in 2003 for calling the then Labour government “Tony Blair’s lie machine” and saying British troops fighting in Iraq should refuse to obey their orders. His opinions about the Labour Party may change, he says, and he’d rejoin “pretty damn quick” if Corbyn took the leadership. He thinks hundreds of thousands of others – in fact “everyone on the left” – would too. “I’ve always been a Labour man. I consider myself ‘real Labour’ – I’ve never been a Marxist or a Trotskyist.”

He predicted the Labour Party, with Corbyn at the helm, would have a million members by the time of the next general election in 2020.

Resurrection is at hand

Meanwhile, there are 59 Westminster parliament seats for Scotland and the Scottish National Party (SNP) holds 56, leaving Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats just one apiece.

What is more, there’s a Scottish parliament election next year. Real fears are now being expressed that the SNP is too powerful, that it is far too authoritarian, and that if independence comes the SNP is not the party to run it. As a result there are moves afoot to create an alternative “party of the left”.

The Scottish Left Project says it aims to build “a united, credible alternative to neo-liberal politics in Holyrood [seat of the Scottish parliament] without sacrificing the need for a united challenge to Westminster’s corruption and imperialism”. It wants to replace Labour with a party that truly reflects the needs of Scotland’s working class. “We believe a consensus is emerging behind these aims, not just in Scotland but across many parts of Europe.”

It has produced a statement which likeminded people are invited to sign:

There is a need for something truly new and original to be born out of the independence movement that can manifest itself at the ballot box in 2016 and beyond… We intend to start a conversation around certain core principles that must be represented in politics once more.

It [the Project] will be based on the principles of radical social change: participatory democracy, democratic public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and power from the rich to the poor and full independence from the British state and its monarch.

Another emerging force is the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC). It describes itself as

an extra-parliamentary, pro-independence platform which puts forward a vision of Scotland that is green and environmentally sustainable; internationalist and opposed to Trident and war; for a social alternative to austerity and privatisation; a modern republic for real democracy; committed to equality and against sexism, homophobia and racism.

The brutal cuts we have already had will pale in comparison to the cuts that are to come. The Conservatives plan to usurp democratic and human rights. A struggle of historic proportions lies ahead.

RIC adds that the Union (with England) is at breaking point and they are developing a strategy for independence from Westminster, neo-liberalism and Tory brutality.

Could Labour’s “phoenix” fly?

The Left Project is aiming to field candidates in the 2016 elections. The RIC says they won’t. Their deliberations will presumably culminate at the upcoming RIC conference in Glasgow on 29 August when they will attempt to “propel the social movements of the radical left into the fight against Westminster”. At this point, surely, the talking stops and action begins. What then, if the two groups don’t come together in a coherent way? A wee disaster?

Fear not, there may soon be a third way forward. That is to rebuild the Labour Party in Scotland, embracing all the radical left groups in order to present a credible alternative to the SNP along the lines suggested by the RIC and the Left Project. But it can only happen if Corbyn wins the national Labour leadership, re-energises the demoralised troops and overhauls the established structure on the ground.

Corbyn and Galloway might, if it pleases the gods, create the conditions for a new “old” Labour to rise from the ashes, rallying the disenfranchised working class and other fed-up elements of society, and taking on the SNP in next year’s Scottish elections. And, after that, the detested Tories south of the border.

Could the new mood sweeping through the grassroots of this country make it happen? Just maybe.

Posted in UKComments Off on UK Labour Party: a sad end, or a bold new beginning? 

Britain Doesn’t Need a New ‘Center’ Party, We’ve Already Got One


Leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech laying out the plan for the party following the Brexit vote in June 2016, in London, February 24, 2017.

© AP Photo/ Alastair Grant
Neil Clark

Britain’s self-styled political “moderates” are getting very excited and it’s not just because the latest bid to prosecute Tony Blair for war crimes has been blocked by the High Court.

The talk this summer in smart metropolitan circles is of a new “center” party being formed that would fight to keep Britain in the EU and “save the country” from the supposed lurch to the extremes of both the “hard-Brexiting” Tories and “hard-left” Labour.

Last week it was revealed that James Chapman, a former spin doctor for George Osborne and David Davis, and self-described “recovering Daily Mail political editor” was planning to launch a new “centrist” party called the “Democrats.”

Just a load of “Ed Balls” and something to fill the papers with in the dead news days of August? “Chappers” says that prominent members of both main parties have been in touch — and the “Democrats” have announced a march in London on 9th September.

We’ve also read countless reports on how disgruntled Blairites were planning to back a new “Party of All the Moderates.” Back on June 23, Phil Collins (that’s Blair’s former speechwriter and not the pop star), proclaimed “Now is the moment to launch a new party,” and drew parallels with the launch of the SDP back in 1981.

Earlier Collins argued “we need not just a Labour split, but a realignment of the center.”  In the words of the other Phil Collins, there’s certainly something in the air tonight — and I’m not just referring to the strong smell of fertilizer which emanates from the fields at this time of year.

The arguments for a new center party are based on a belief that there’s a gap in the market. But is it really true?

If by ‘center’ we mean where majority mainstream public opinion is — as opposed to where elite opinion is — then surely we’ve already got a “center” party. It’s called Labour.

Corbyn hasn’t taken the party to a political Outer Mongolia, as Establishment commentators tell us on an almost daily basis, but actually moved it towards the real center ground. The center ground  of majority public opinion that is, not the phoney pro-war, pro-neoliberal center ground of the “Inside the Bastille” media, financial and political elites.

Take the re-nationalization of Britain’s rip-off railways, easily the most expensive in Europe. This is invariably branded as a “a hard-left return to the 70s” by “centrist” pundits, but in fact it’s a very popular policy endorsed by over 60% of the electorate.

Labour’s pledge to renationalize water in England has even more public backing — a Sunday Express pollin 2012 put support for it at 71%.The same percentage endorse Labour’s policy of a £10 (US$13) p.h. minimum wage by 2020. The proposal to raise the top rate of income tax is supported by 62%.

Listen to the punditocracy and you’d think only “Stalinists” want these populist economic policies, in fact they’re supported by most of the country — including people living in Tory shires.

Labour’s less hawkish line on foreign policy under Corbyn also chimes with an electoral sick and tired of British involvement in Middle East wars and US-sponsored “regime change” operations. “Liberal interventionism” may still be popular in elite circles, and among the mutually-adoring neocon Twitterati, but again, it’s not a vote-winner with ordinary folk, who care more about heating bills than toppling Assad in Syria.

It’s worth noting that when Labour was still “New Labour” and occupying the phoney elite center ground in 2010, it only obtained 29% of the vote. But since it’s moved towards the genuine center ground, it has reaped the benefit — polling 40% in June, its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945.

Labour’s poll surge, as I wrote here, had Establishment pundits — who were predicting electoral Armageddon for the party — in a right-old flap.

These “experts” couldn’t believe that the electorate would vote for a party whose policies they — but not the general public — regarded as “loony-left.” But despite the rude awakening they got on June 8, most “mainstream” pundits still push the line that Labour, under Corbyn, is too extreme. Even Labour’s official support for Brexit is taken as evidence of the party ditching “moderation.” Again though, Labour’s stance, namely to respect the referendum vote of June 23, 2016, while campaigning for the best possible Brexit for ordinary working people, is a genuine center ground position.

With 48% voting to stay in the EU, it would clearly be wrong to say that the concerns of Remainers don’t matter and shouldn’t be listened to. At the same time it would even more unfair to say to the 52% who voted “Out” that their votes were going to be ignored — or that a second referendum was needed.

Even if you take the line that Brexit will be the biggest disaster for Britain since the Black Death arrived in 1348, and that consequently we should be throwing a jumbo-sized spanner in the works, it’s still hard to see the pressing need for a brand new “center” party to oppose it. The Liberal Democrats, after all, “passionately believe” Britain is better off in Europe. They have pledged to give the British people a “final say” on whether we accept the government’s Brexit deal or stay in Europe. For passionate Europhiles, why bother to start a new party, when you can put on a yellow tie and link arms with The Cable Guy and his crew?

All in all, its hard not to see the calls for a new “center” party as a desperate rear-guard action from those unhappy with the dramatic political upheavals of the last few years, which have seen Labour ditch Blairism, the Bullingdon Boys Cameron and Osborne lose power, the British public vote to end our 40-odd year membership of the EU, and the exciting rise of grassroots “Power to the People!” organizations like Momentum.

James Chapman, (whose commitment to the cause you can’t help admiring), tweets: “We lecture other countries but truth is our political and media establishment is rotten,” but the “Democrats,” by putting their faith in “Parliamentary democracy” and banning referendums would essentially be endorsing Establishment-friendly, anti-populist, Westminster-bubble old-style politics. That’s even allowing for their support for proportional representation.

While promoting themselves as progressive agents of change, the new “centrists” are actually quite reactionary.

Their aim seems to be to turn the clock back to the sort of politics we had somewhere around 2006.  But the real center ground now is elsewhere, and the bad news for those seeking a political realignment is that a man with a beard, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, emerald green shorts, black socks and a rucksack slung over his shoulder, has already pitched his tent on it.

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