Kate Hudson stands down as Respect candidate, denounces Galloway

September 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm (communalism, Galloway, Jackie Mcdonough, misogyny, populism, Respect, women)

“I cannot in all conscience, stand as candidate for a party whose only MP has made unacceptable and un-retracted statements about the nature of rape. To continue as Respect Party candidate in this situation, no matter how much I object to and oppose his statements personally, would be in effect to condone what he has said. That is something I am not prepared to do” - Kate Hudson.

Kate Hudson, prospective ‘Respect’ candidate for Manchester Central, has put out the following statement:

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to stand down as Respect Party candidate for the Manchester Central by-election. This has been a difficult decision to make because I am in no doubt that the Respect Party has the right policies to meet the challenges facing Britain today, and that its redistributive anti-austerity and pro-investment platform is exactly what is needed to turn around Britain’s failing economy and meet the needs of Britain’s population. Political events across Europe demonstrate that Respect is not alone in working to fill the political space vacated by Labour and its sister social democrat parties as they have moved to the right and embraced neo-liberalism, from Greece to France and now Holland.

However, I cannot in all conscience, stand as candidate for a party whose only MP has made unacceptable and un-retracted statements about the nature of rape. To continue as Respect Party candidate in this situation, no matter how much I object to and oppose his statements personally, would be in effect to condone what he has said. That is something I am not prepared to do.

I stand by the position taken by Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob, who has stated:

“Let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex. George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.

There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him. Any individual accused of a crime, sexual or otherwise, is innocent until proven guilty. By the same token, any individual who believes themselves to be a victim has a right to have their grievances heard in a fair manner and not have their allegations belittled or dismissed. This is the cornerstone of justice.”

Unfortunately George Galloway’s subsequent clarification of his remarks was totally inadequate.

To continue to represent the Respect Party in this context does not accord with my political principles, which include the continuing struggle for justice and respect for women, as well as fighting against austerity, war and racism. I will continue to work within the Respect Party to ensure that our values and principles with regard to women’s rights match up to the Party’s – and George Galloway’s – outstanding record in these other areas.

I would like to thank our members and supporters in Manchester and across the country for the strong support extended to the Manchester Central campaign. The struggle for a left politics based on justice and equality, where society is organised to meet the needs of the many, will continue.

48 Comments

  1. realitynow2012 said,

    My comment on this can be read here: http://wp.me/p27Zwn-qW.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Clare Allen in today’s Graun:

    Enough is enough. George Galloway’s recent tweet in which he described an individual as a “window-licker” (a derogatory term for a disabled person) is by no means the first time he has revealed the extent of his ignorance and bigotry towards a sizeable minority of the very individuals whom as a member of parliament it is his job to represent.

    I used to admire Galloway. I have heard him talk at numerous rallies and found him a compelling and passionate speaker with an ability to engage and enthuse a crowd from widely diverse backgrounds. “Yes,” I would think. “I’m glad you’re on my side.”

    Then came his speech at a Stop the War rally. “George Bush hears voices!” he declared, to gales of laughter from the crowd, a reference to Bush’s claim that God had told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. What could be more hilarious! A madman in charge of America! I can still recall my sudden sense of isolation; a moment before I had believed myself to be among friends. I wrote to Galloway after that but never received a reply.

    More recently, of course, there have been his extraordinary comments regarding the allegations of rape and sexual assault concerning the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. In this, Galloway is far from alone, though typically he has gone further than most in his determination to ridicule the complaints of the women involved. “It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: ‘Do you mind if I do it again?’ … but whatever else it is, it is not rape,” he said. Galloway cannot possibly know what happened; he was not there. Assange may or may not be innocent of the allegations against him; this may or may not relate to WikiLeaks; but the readiness with which Galloway and others would simply dismiss the women’s accounts will have left many survivors of sexual assault profoundly disillusioned and troubled.

    And now the window-licker comment. If anything could be more disturbing than an MP using the term, it is the attempt of Galloway’s spokesman to justify his choice of language. “He used the term, the street term, to dismiss the guy as a moron. Or idiot. Or doolally. To dress this up as some kind of slur on disabled people is shameful,” he said. By this argument, Rio Ferdinand’s tweet in which he described Ashley Cole as a “choc ice” wasn’t racist at all; he was just saying Cole was fake. The FA disagreed; they fined him £45,000. Do we really expect higher standards of behaviour from our footballers than we do from our MPs?

    Disgusting as Galloway’s language is, the problem runs far deeper than an obnoxious choice of word. The issue is one of attitude. It is the fact – whatever language he uses – that Galloway deems disability a tag with which to ridicule someone. I didn’t think much of George Bush either but I don’t see what that has to do with anyone hearing voices. And I don’t think the fact that someone hears voices renders them incompetent or a warmonger or anything else. It just means they hear voices.

    Attitudes like Galloway’s are sadly not uncommon. With many hoping the Paralympics could transform perceptions of disability, his comments offer a reminder of the scale of the transformation needed. I don’t doubt that window-licker is flung about as a street term quite regularly. Internet forums are full of people mocking the claims of the women at the heart of the Assange case. But as an MP it is Galloway’s job to represent the people of Bradford West. All the people of Bradford West. It is my belief that his attitude disqualifies him from doing so.

    Galloway should step down; he won’t. But if the Respect party is to stand for anything other than a twisted sense of irony, it should seriously think about expelling him.

    • Clare Allan is an author and writer on mental health issues

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Wow! Nooman and the other rape-apologists at “Socialist Unity-Mitford” have reached a new (even for them) low:

    George Galloway’s views on rape are absolutely clear, as he recently said in response to a demonstration in Bradford: ‘I have said repeatedly that no always means no and that non-consensual sex is rape.”

    It is perhaps suprising therefore that Galloway’s views are considered so controversial by some of his ostensible political allies, that Kate Hudson has stepped down from being Respect’s by-election candidate in Manchester. Predictably that empty balloon Sunny Hundal has described this act as “brave”. Sunny of course values above all else intellectual conformity to the smug Guardian reading consensus.

    Actually, the remarks by George Galloway on his podcast about the potential charges facing Julian Assange could have been more felicitously worded, but George was raising a substantive political argument.

    Firstly, the extraordinary effort being exerted by the Swedish and British governments to pursue Assange over these accusations is a cruel parody of the inaction, complacency and inertia that characterises their normal approach to violence, oppression and exploitation of women. Secondly, Assange’s trial by media has been a travesty of justice, where neither the presumption of innocence, nor the anonymity and dignity of the alleged victims has been respected. No justice for anyone can be achieved in the context of this circus.

    Of course the facts of what actually happened in privacy between Assange and the women accusing him is disputed. George may therefore have over stated his case by expressing a judgement in his pod-cast that there was no rape. However, the criminal law is a very blunt and inadequate instrument for resolving the complex issues of trust and consent in real life sexual relationships, mired as they are in game playing, half-truths, social expectations, emotional pressure, feelings of obligation and unequal power relationships.

    As I have written before in the context of discussing Canada’s problematic rape laws, some liberal and feminist assumptions about rape can even work against women. The academic Lise Gotell argues the new transactional norms of consent in Canadian sexual assault law actually move away from a recognition of unequal power relationships that complicate messy and real-life conditions of consent; so that sexual assault becomes instead merely a failure of personal responsibility, making the crime individual and depoliticised; and paradoxically discriminating against women who themselves fail to follow social norms of avoiding risk.

    We now rightly reject the earlier model of “ideal victim” who due to their modest chastity is regarded as inherently believable; but instead there is a danger of creating a new “ideal victim” who is articulate and has a transactional approach to sexual consent. Assuming that real life sexual encounters take place in a dispassionate context where consent is always explicitly negotiated doesn’t reflect the often opaque muddle of consensual seduction, and non-verbal communication.

    Without making any specific judgement about the facts in Julian Assange’s own case, we can see that George Galloway was making a substantive point that once two people have embarked upon a consensual sexual encounter, then a game is in play where both parties may assume a level of continued implied consent unless that consent is unambiguously withdrawn. Of course either party may at any time withdraw consent, and if sex then continues on a non-consensual basis then it is rape. However, all sexually active adults – women and men – will have at some time or another consensually continued with sex when they didn’t really want to, out of feelings of emotional or social obligation; and all sexually active adults – women and men – will have consensually allowed themselves to be seduced, even though they did not originally want sex. There is therefore an ambiguous grey continuum surrounding understandings of consensuality in real world sex; and it is entirely necessary to recognise that there can be breaches of trust, poor sexual etiquette, selfishness and generally boorish behaviour that is reprehensible, even disgraceful, but that are close enough to social norms that it would be unproductive to treat them as criminal.

    I might not have expressed myself exactly as George Galloway did, and I may not totally agree with the content of what he said; but in the context of the populist medium of his pod-cast, especially when taken together with his later clarification, then Galloway’s comments were a pertinent contribution to a political debate.

    What has subsequently happened though has taken on the character of a witch hunt. There is a danger here that all allegations of rape carry with them an assumption of guilt, and that any critical questioning of what does and does not constitute consent in real world sex is traduced as if it was apologia for rape. Galloway’s remarks have become the centre of a moral panic of the chatterati, being gleefully stoked up by the self-interested spite of his many detractors.

    I have to say that I was disappointed that Salma Yaqoob publically distanced herself from George Galloway. It would have been more appropriate for her to have discussed any misgivings privately.

    Kate Hudson’s withdrawal from the Manchester by-election is extraordinary.

    I have to set some personal context here: as a Labour Party member I will obviously be supporting Labour in the Manchester Central by-election. I think it is important in the broader labour movement’s campaign against this Tory led government for Labour to win here. Lucy Powell is a good candidate, and we can’t afford a by-election upset that would potentially destabilise Ed Miliband’s authority. My own characterisation of Respect is that it is a broadly labourist party that gives expression to anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiment that cannot find electoral expression through the Labour Party, and that therefore Respect’s own interests are complementary to the broad labour movement’s objective of securing a Labour government. I have always therefore argued that Respect were wrong to stand against Labour in Manchester Central.

    However, there is another issue, that the Bradford West by-election result created an unrealistic expectation in Respect’s prospects for growth and electoral success. Bradford happened due to a particular constellation of specific circumstances, not least of which was the personality and talent of George Galloway. These could not be reproduced anywhere else. With all due respect to Kate Hudson, notwithstanding her sterling work for CND, she is no Galloway, and the most likely outcome for her in the Manchester Central by-election would have been a bruising lost deposit. The wind of Bradford has gone from Respect’s sales.

    The American socialist, James Cannon, once observed that everyone has two reasons for what they do, the good reason and the real reason: whether the real reason is consciously articulated or not. I don’t know what Kate Hudson’s motives for standing down as Respect candidate are, but I observe that they extract her from an election campaign where she would have undoubtedly received a very poor vote, after she had misguidedly talked up her own prospects.

    So what of George Galloway? Party politics aside, Galloway has a record of substantial achievement in opposing imperialism and of solidarity with the Palestinian people that is unrivalled. He is an articulate ( if iconoclastic) populariser of socialist politics, with a reach and influence far beyond the normal boundaries of the left.

    I don’t agree with everything that George says or does, but I consider him a considerable asset to left politics, and I consider him a good and trustworthy man. Of course George is human, with all the quirks and frailties that implies, but he is also uniquely under scrutiny, with seemingly the whole world waiting for him to mis-speak or slip up.

    Frankly, the left should resist the moral panic and stand with George Galloway. It is easier to swim with the stream and join the quacking chorus of detractors, but now is the time for George Galloway’s friends and allies to speak out in his support.

  4. Robin Carmody said,

    Amazing how, in the end, the far-left always end up using the same language as the far-right (“smug Guardian-reading consensus” – fuck knows the Guardian has a million things wrong with it, including a sympathy with religious conservatives out of misplaced “anti-imperialism” sometimes on a par with that of SU itself, but even so …)

  5. martin ohr said,

    The comments over at socialist unity are much worse that the original article, what a miserable sample of the human race they are.

    Incredibly Lenins Tomb has a sensible article on this right now

  6. Torquil Macnneil said,

    Yes, Seymour’s politics are often shrill and childish but he has never stooped to apologising for rape or homophobia as Newman has. It gets increasingly difficult to see what would separate the Socialist Unity crowd form the BUF.

  7. Rosie said,

    As far as Hudson and Clare Allen are concerned, they both found GG’s remarks beyond the pale, as it touched something they were each particularly sensitive about – feminism (or even being female) for Hudson and mental disability for Clare Allen. However they evidently didn’t find anything creepy, gross, weird, bombastic,crappy and every other adjective you can apply to GG before.

  8. Sarah AB said,

    There are some shocking comments on those threads. Here’s a gem from ‘Marko’ – I know this doesn’t really need saying, but as it’s a slightly unusual name, and the question has been raised in the past, I’ll just state that this is not Marko Atilla Hoare.

    “Creepy…….stop with the insinuation, that is the basis of witchhunting (not a golden age to be woman)

    If some guy jumps out of a bush and forces a woman at knife point to have sex that is rape and for me you can cut the guys bollocks off. Some nerdy looking weed, who happens to be a celebrity, gets involved with some brazen groupies and they moan about the experience. Fishing without a permit is more serious than that.”

    I would in fact (were I not banned) be prepared to engage with Andy Newman’s post, with reference to the wider questions rather than this specific case, but the threads are just appalling. See also for example:

    “Call me old fashioned…

    but when I read through many posters denouncing GG as ‘not a socialist’ due to his expressed views on rape it all feels very.. student union. “

  9. Rosie said,

    I’m deleted there as well. There’s someone call Mhairi who is giving “Marko” a good kicking. That kind of talk – it’s what feminism has fought against over the last few decades, with some success. It’s utterly crappy seeing it aired all over again.

  10. Sarah AB said,

    Wow. Tony Collins has just asked a woman who was expressing herself forcefully to ‘tone it down’.

  11. Red S said,

    Jim Denham hypocritically cites a Guardian writer who denounces Galloway for making insensitive remarks about someone’s mental health.

    Just search for the keyword ‘mental health’ on Shiraz Socialist and see how many times Denham has abused others citing their allegedly poor ‘mental health’. As Oscar Wilde once said ‘hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue’.

    The liberal writer whom Denham approvingly cites also condemns those who say:

    “Rio Ferdinand’s tweet in which he described Ashley Cole as a “choc ice” wasn’t racist at all”

    That’s itself an apologia for racism, since Cole married a pop singer who was convicted of a criminal assault with serious racist aspects to it, to get her off the hook of accusations of racism that could have destroyed her career.

    My god, you really think calling Cole a ‘choc ice’ is worse than a black gay man marrying a racist white woman to hide from homophobia in the footballing world? And he said this in criticising the same guy for testifying in favour of another white man who called his brother a ‘black cunt’!

    Maybe Ferdinand could be accused indirectly of being insensitive to what made Cole do this shameful thing re Cheryl, but my god, this accuisation is racist in itself.

    A black man is ‘racist’ for calling another black man a ‘choc ice’ for sticking up for white racists – incredible rubbish. For calling him an Uncle Tom in other words. Liberal crap of the first order.

    Next you’ll be telling us that Malcolm X was no better than the Ku Klux Klan.

  12. Red S said,

    “My god, you really think calling Cole a ‘choc ice’”

    Actually, Ferdinand did not even insult Cole in this way, come to think of it.

    He just laughed at someone else doing so.

    This is yet another example of liberal hysteria. You’ve all bascially become prissy liberal wankers.

  13. Robin Carmody said,

    I can’t bring myself to look at SU – are there comments dismissing women’s rights as “a bourgeois issue” (even though working-class women disproportionately suffer in pretty much every society on Earth) and “a lifestyle issue” (as though it were on a par with Fearnley-Whittingstall vs Lidl or some shit like that?). It never takes long before they reduce it to that level.

    Far better to be “very student union” than very working men’s club.

    “Liberal” used as a pejorative. Never a good sign whatever the reason. I don’t want to get into the racial question here, because that’s a separate issue and an infinitely complex one, but if it’s “prissy” to be offended at Galloway being a “bluff” “real man” then I’m proud of it.

  14. Faster Pussycat Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! said,

    There has been some confusion (and downright scumbaggery) over the use of the term bourgeois in conjunction with feminism and women’s rights. Feminism is only ‘bourgeois’ when it is separated from the class struggle. Nevertheless some who have turned their back on class struggle and subscribe to a twisted and conservative simulacrum of anti-imperialism and support the repressive national boss classes of totalitarian states, have turned this on its head, and will tell you that the struggle for women’s rights is ipso facto ‘bourgeois’, a trifle etc etc.

    • Robin Carmody said,

      Completely and absolutely true.

      People like Galloway love to think of themselves as “the last true believers”, the last genuine socialists – but in fact their politics are symptomatic of socialism’s long-term identity crisis and lack of confidence. They embody the very thing they like to think they have resisted.

  15. Just saying said,

    Could put it down to wee Geordies pithy Glasgow upbringing.

    Or could be wee Geordie has been spending to much time playing in the sand with fundamentalists.

    Dont know Kate Hudson.Sounds like from her stance on this issue that she has strong feelings and opinions.However, politics is not the place for the faint hearted as it is a ruthless business.Possibly maybe Kate would have been better to stay and fight from within to change what she sees as a culture that offends,rather than spitting the dummy.

  16. martin ohr said,

    Mark Anthony France has alleged that he was sexually assaulted by leading members of the AWL:

    mark anthony france:
    After Laurie Penny’s recent Guardian piece on her personal experience of Rape at the hands of a respected older lefty man I was sorely tempted to write about my first sexual experience at the age of just 16 in which I was given large amounts of alcohol by a much older Socialist Feminist Woman – bundled into a car driven by a leading comrade of the organisation that is now the AWL and sexually assaulted while unconscious then raped without my consent… But i decided that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Presuming this is not a joke on his part, I’ve asked him the following:

    Please name names in regard to your allegation- you can email me, and I will make a formal complaint inside the AWL, unlike most of the left we actually take these things seriously including expelling people and involving the police.

    • martin ohr said,

      …of course my comment was deleted by SU

      • Pinkie said,

        I am not at all surprised that your comments were deleted (but then I don’t know what they were).

        There are all too many accusations of abuse (sexual, physical and emotional) being made on that one dodgy blog, amongst others, to make one understand that such abuse is ‘not unknown’ in leftist organisations.

        It says something about small group psychology that the aggrieved parties did not go to state agencies when their grievances were not dealt with properly by their own organisations, or that they felt unable to voice their grievances in the first place.

        I am not suggesting that this abuse is unique to leftist organisations nor that it is common in them. It is just that ‘us versus the world’ engenders a protective attitude towards the ‘important us’ that would not be extended to the ‘not us’.

        Psychobabble perhaps, but how many people on the left have put up with abusive behaviour in their own organisations that would prompt them to take up grievance procedures if they received it from their employers?

  17. Jim Denham said,

    Pinkie: I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make, presumably in response to what Martin Ohr has written.

    Martin’s last-but-one comment here (#16) makes it clear what the content of his comment, deleted by Socialist Unity, was.

    Martin is drawing our attention to a claim made by one Mark Anthony France, on the Socialist Unity blog, to the effect that he (Mr France) was sexually abused at some time in the past by leading members of the AWL (or its forerunner organisation). As far as I’m aware Mr France is not saying that he himself was a member of the AWL/forerunner, at that time.

    Martin replied by asking Mr France to provide details and “name names” (in a private email if necessary) so that he (Martin Ohr), as a member of the AWL, can pursue the matter within that organisation. His comment at Socialist Unity, making that offer to Mr France, was deleted by the people who moderate that blog.

    Presumably, though, Martin’s offer still stands, so if Mr France wants to make contact via ‘Shiraz’ he is welcome to do so.

    • Pinkie said,

      My point is simple, members of small in-groups are prone to suppress accusations of abuse within them. They are prone to do so because it threatens their identification with the group. Individuals who feel abused will be torn between loyalty to the group and outrage at their treatment.

      This attitude, if not checked, gives ‘leading members’ a free pass to act as they will.

  18. Jim Denham said,

    Yes, Pinkie: but here we have an example of a member of a small left group offering to pursue an allegation of abuse, and having that offer, put forward in public on the Socialist Unity website, deleted by the owners of that site – *not* by the group in question. Martin’s offer to pursue the matter still stands, but as far as I’m aware no response has been received either because Mr French isn’t aware that the offer was ever made, or because he’s decided not to take Martin up on it.

    • martin ohr said,

      since then my ip address has been blocked so that I can’t even visit the site, no doubt a blessing.

      • Pinkie said,

        Fair play and all that to the AWL.

        Given the unusual charecteristics of the alleged offender and the circumstances, I have no doubt that the actors in this can be identified.

        It is possible to contact the aggrieved party regardless of any shut-down by Socialist Unity. That he wishes to not persue the matter, or not, is for him.

        The AWL can carry on with any investigation they like.

        That SU chose to delete posts is no surprise, why they did so will remain a mystery, or not.

  19. Tom said,

    And Newman closed the thread by plying that Chris Harmon was a sex pest and possibly more; nice man.

  20. Tom said,

    *implying that is.

  21. Jim Denham said,

    More nauseating filth from the rape-deniers/apologists at Socialist UnityMitford. This time John Wight (one antisemitic sexist defending another):

    In defence of George Galloway, by John Wight

    The concerted attempt to demonize George Galloway over his comments on the rape allegations levelled at Julian Assange is reflective of something rotten in British cultural life. Nothing short of a lynching-by-media is being attempted by a range of commentators from right to left, to the point where there’s no room left on the bandwagon.

    George Galloway is not nor has he ever been an apologist for rape. He is not nor has he ever been a ‘rape-denier’. He is however a firm opponent of what he and many others around the world consider bears all the hallmarks of the political and legal witchhunt of a man whose role with Wikileaks rocked and humiliated a US government that is now determined to take its revenge. Anyone who still doubts this need only consider the treatment meted out to Bradley Manning, accused of passing classified information to Wikileaks and is now facing 52 years in prison and who since his arrest in 2010 has had his human rights repeatedly violated.

    The truth is that rape has become such a politically loaded issue in this country it is impossible to have an honest discussion about it without feeling like you’re walking through a minefield of hysteria and semantic traps, designed to trip you up if you dare deviate from the path of an unwritten but no less rigid consensus, which is that any man accused of rape under any circumstances is guilty until proven innocent – with anyone who suggests it should be the other way round no better than a rapist him or herself. This occludes rather than enlightens the issue and is designed to place a curtain of censorship around it.

    The allegations faced by Assange, which he denies and of which by law he remains innocent until proven guilty, are extremely serious. Any man accused of rape is disgraced by the very allegation. To be publicly accused of the offence, as Assange has been, leaves a stigma that no legal defence can hope to eradicate. Regardless of guilt or innocence, in this respect the allegations have already had a devastating effect on his reputation in the eyes of many who’ve commentated on the story since it broke, moving him from the status of someone being persecuted for political reasons to a rapist doing his utmost to avoid justice. If he is guilty of course he must face the consequences. But only a fool or a supporter of his extradition to the US would deny that he has a justified concern over going to Sweden to be questioned under the present circumstances. After all, does anyone really think that the Ecuadorian Government did not look into the case before granting Julian Assange asylum? Does anyone really believe that tiny Ecuador would defy the might of the United States and its junior partner Britain just for the hell of it?

    The precise cause of the calumniation that has been attached to Galloway’s intervention is the assertion that in his podcast he downplays rape by suggesting that if Assange initiated sex with one of the women involved while she was sleeping, on the morning after they’d already had consensual sex as is claimed, then it might be considered ‘bad sexual etiquette’ but it would not be rape as most people understand it.

    How many men or women have initiated sex with a partner or sexual partner in the morning under those very circumstances? I would guess 99 percent, including most of those who are currently clambering for Galloway’s head.

    If any degree of coercion is involved of course it is rape, no doubt. If the other person involved withdraws their consent at any time then the man or woman who initiated sex must stop. On this there can be no equivocation. But Galloway did not dispute either of those red lines. His focus was on the fact that the woman involved in this particular instance went on to hold a party for Assange the night after the alleged rape took place, then the day after went out to dinner with him. Surely any reasonable person, with this mind, would allow for even a smidgeon of something suspicious over the way these allegations have come about? That George Galloway did so without in the eyes of his accusers giving sufficient room to the possibility that the allegations may be true, reflects not a dismissive attitude to rape, as is being inferred, but his understanding of the nature of the beast that Assange has provoked via Wikileaks and his own consistent opposition to that beast, which is otherwise known as Empire.

    But this isn’t really about Julian Assange. The focus that has been placed on George Galloway is a political campaign being conducted by on the one hand his many enemies within the liberal media who smell blood, and on the other those on the left who are determined to police the issue of rape, the context in which it can be discussed, to the point where men in general are expected to view their sexuality and natural sexual instinct as predatory, something to be ashamed of, something dirty and devious which marks them out as potential rapists.

    As a man and as a rational human being I completely and utterly reject this. Rape is far too serious an issue to trivialise and reduce to the level of a stick to beat men with just by dint of them being men. By the same token false allegations of rape are equally too serious to be treated lightly.

    George Galloway’s crime is that he spoke the truth without fear or favour as he and many others see it.

  22. sheffielder said,

    Further details from Mark Anthony France yesterday on SU ;

    “…I once was literally trapped in a council flat in London while working for poverty wages for a small marxist group in a technical post [typesetter]during the 1980′s – I was homeless and the tenent of a the flat a more senior female comrade who was publically a ‘Lesbian’ basically ‘seduced me’ as soon as I was naked she became very violent flipped me on my back and tried to shove her hand [which was missing several digits as she had a birth defect] up my Anus…. I successfully prevented penertration then she started to hit me with the other hand [which did have 5 digits]… bruising my back and head…
    I managed to escape to another room and sneek out of the flat as soon as it was light…. For the next few days this person would visit me in my workplace – where she was a well respected comrade and stay for hours in the same room where I was working… trying to persuade me that we should contiune a relationship… like a total plonker I actually I actually did return to her flat again but managed to avoid any deformed arms being thrust up my bum…. To be honest I was so psychologically confused by this situation I decided to resign from the organisation[citing profound mental health issues in my resignation letter to the National Secretary] I had been active in for 10 years and run away to Wolverhampton!….. Where the ‘organisation’ tracked me down and basically ignored my resignation because they needed me to carry out important tasks….Which included having monthly meetings with the woman who had abused me…. not much fun I can tell you…. In the end I Ran Away to CUBA!…”

    Either this is true or it isn’t – If it is SU are disgraceful in deleting the reply from yourselves rather than the allegation itself.

  23. Sarah AB said,

    I assumed, when I first saw the initial comment, that this was some satirical comment referencing SU’s distaste for the AWL.

  24. Jim Denham said,

    In his first allegation (involving being bundled into car and assaulted), Mark Anthony France names the AWL as the organisation to which his alleged assailants belonged (indeed, one was a “leading member”).

    The second allegation clearly involves a different incident, taking place in a London flat, and the AWL is not mentioned (just “a small Marxist group”). I presume, on that occasion it was not the AWL seeing as Mr France was so clear in naming them in the context of the previous incident.

    I was in the AWL and its predecessor organisations (indeed, on the National Committee) from the mid-70’s and throughout the eighties when it seems, from Mr France’s accounts, both these incidents would have taken place. I can only say that serious incidents of comrades’ misconduct (including sexual misconduct) were drawn to the attention of the National Committee throughout that time and, if upheld, resulted in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. Neither of Mr France’s accounts ring any bells and he was certainly not a member (there was someone called Mark France on the left in Birmingham at that time, but he was in the IMG’s youth section,”REVO Youth” not the AWL or any of its predecessors).

    But the important point is that Martin Ohr and myself, both members of the present AWL, have offered to take up Mr France’s allegation(s) (the first one, clearly naming proto-AWL members as the culprits and the second one if it did, indeed, involve the AWL) and pursue the matter(s) within the AWL. All Mr France has to do is provide more detail and “name names” and he can do that privately if he wishes. Whether Mr France gets to hear about this offer is of course made doubtful by the fact that Martin’s comment to the Socialist Unity blog making the proposal, was promptly deleted by the mediators there.

    I repeat my previous offer to Mr France: contact me via the comments here or via my private email address which I will send you if you post a very brief comment here.

  25. Rosie said,

    Mhairi McAlpine, who was trying to kick some sense and decency into those two disgusting threads, has a piece here:-

    http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2012/09/07/socialist-unity-cesspit-of-the-left/

  26. Jim Denham said,

    Wow! That’s powerful stuff, Rosie!

  27. Robin Carmody said,

    Indeed. A superb piece.

  28. Rosie said,

    In those gruesome Soc Un threads cheekiest comment is from Andy Newman:-

    “The infantalising of women is one of the most pernicious aspects of these debates.”

    Women have traditionally been infantilised – are still infantilised when it comes to rape in many cultures – as children who make up stories, who won’t take the blame when anyone can see it’s their fault, as being told to marry their rapist to make it all better, as being put out of the way for bringing shame to the family. They are further infantilised when told not to kick and scream against big important men in case they might spoil their reputations, because the men are big and important and they are little squeaky mice.

    Poor Tony Collins is trying to dignify this vomit-stream of rape-apologetics and name-calling as some sort of constructive debate:-

    “Anyway, the debate on here has been excellent, and it does show that we need to feel free to discuss this and adapt our politics, without being forced to pass a purity test. The left needs to be willing to listen and learn, instead of just preaching.”

    “We feel it’s important to have the arguments. I disagree with Andy’s views about Kate, but there aren’t enough places for the left to have adult debates, so on balance we’ve done good here.”

    “there can be a real benefit from Galloway’s comments; if it helps us to understand general working class discourse on rape, if it helps us to sharpen our arguments etc., then the net effect of Galloway’s words will be positive.2

    Those threads have revealed the Soc Un posters and commenters as a lot of dodgy blokes who are willing to excuse other dodgy blokes as long as they have the right credentials. If Tony Blair had made the same crass, ignorant comments that Galloway had made would we have this careful pondering about rape laws and accusations? If it was, I dunno, some hate figure – Donald Rumsfeld? some Tory cabinet minister? – who was skipping a trial for rape, would it be time to start saying that forcing yourself on a non-consenting female isn’t really rape and only feminist reactionaries would say so.? (Questions rhetorical).

    • Sarah AB said,

      Rosie – I must confess that I do not completely disagree with Andy Newman on every aspect of this issue, although I don’t think these important issues should be discussed in relation to a specific and uncertain case, think the way Mhairi was treated was foul, and the comments generally on those threads just unbelievable – also Galloway’s initial comments. But I do think that sometimes sexual relations are discussed or described in a way which suggests that sex is something that is damaging to women – and that whereas men are inevitably going to want to move on to the ‘next base’ as it were – women are more likely to want to stall things. I once commented on a thread about rape where a scenario which involved a man pretending to be his own brother (in order to sleep with sister-in-law) was described as rape. People seemed to accept that rape ‘by deception’ was – rape. But when I asked if this was also true the other way round someone said that my comment was the most bizarre thing s/he had ever read on a blog.

  29. Rosie said,

    Sarah – I wouldn’t deny there’s sometimes confusion between “rape” and “sex” with some feminists, and that the old suffragettes had a strand of “women pure, men dirty” prudishness. However that doesn’t apply in this case; nor in the comments people made on the Soc Un thread which were basic saloon bar crap; and if I was going to review rape laws Andy Newman et al are the last people I’d get on board in the discussions. I’d hate to have him and his ilk as members of a jury on a case which wasn’t obviously violent, especially that hideous Marko with his “brazen groupies”.

    The “deception” case – you mean a woman fooling a bloke into shagging her – I don’t suppose it’s rape which is specifically penetration by penis into orifice of either female or male without consent, though I suppose it could be fraud or assault. Have you ever heard of it happening?

  30. Rosie said,

    I remember during the Tommy Sheridan case it wasn’t just his lying and getting his comrades to lie for him that pissed some of the women off – it was the fact that he shagged around at all – which is a totally different issue.

  31. Sarah AB said,

    No, I haven’t heard of it happening – I suppose I felt that the scenarios were morally the same, even if technically different. I absolutely agree about Marko and co.

  32. Jim Denham said,

    Rosie: Collins and the SU shower have a nerve, saying “the debate on here has been excellent, and it does show that we need to feel free to discuss this and adapt our politics, without being forced to pass a purity test,” given that they habitually ban everyone who disgrees with them (ie is critical of Galloway), and delete comments they don’t like, before closing all discussion on the subject down

    Myself and others are now prevented from even visiting and looking at the SU site from our own computers. I was only able to check it out this morning by visiting an internet cafe.

    Perhaps most despicable, in the course of the two Galloway/Assange/rape threads at SU has been the fact that one Mark Anthony France has been allowed to post at SU, accusing “leading members” of the AWL of sexually abusing him in the 1980’s, while the reponse of Martin Ohr, a current AWL member, offering to raise the matter within the AWL if France provides more details, was deleted, presumably by “moderator” Collins.

    I know that a leading member of the present-day AWL has now emailed Andy Newman (SU’s founder/”owner”) asking him to re-open comments so that a further offer to investigate the matter can be publicly put to Mr France.

  33. Rosie said,

    Jim – calling themselves “Socialist Unity” is an irony so gross, so glaring, so absurd that all follows from that.

  34. Rosie said,

    Another cheeky paragraph from John Wight’s piece:-

    “The truth is that rape has become such a politically loaded issue in this country it is impossible to have an honest discussion about it without feeling like you’re walking through a minefield of hysteria and semantic traps, designed to trip you up if you dare deviate from the path of an unwritten but no less rigid consensus, which is that any man accused of rape under any circumstances is guilty until proven innocent – with anyone who suggests it should be the other way round no better than a rapist him or herself. This occludes rather than enlightens the issue and is designed to place a curtain of censorship around it.”

    Well. the best way then would be to have a trial where a man’s lawyer will have the chance to present his case. Then perhaps there would be less occluding and more enlightening. However Mr Assange seems highly reluctant to go through that process.

    Though I differ from Salma Yaqoob, Kate Hudson and Mhairi McAlpine in most things, we’re in agreement about this. It’s not even feminist solidarity, it’s female solidarity against a certain kind of male view of rape, and of women.

  35. mhairi said,

    “it wasn’t just his lying and getting his comrades to lie for him that pissed some of the women off – it was the fact that he shagged around at all”

    Absolute and utter rubbish.

    There was a serious problem that he used a sex club where there was involvement in prostitution, as well as a whole heap of other dodgy sexual issues, but all were clear that his sexlife was none of the party’s busines so long as it was consensual, uncoerced, non-commercial and that he didnt try to make some kind of stupid political capital out of trashing his former lovers.

  36. Rosie said,

    Mhairi – I remember seeing some comments to that effect. However, I can’t remember where and I’m not going to hunt for them, so I’ll accept that they were few and unrepresentative.

  37. Robin Carmody said,

    I love that “understand general working class discourse on rape”. In other words, My Class (or more accurately, the class they wish they were part of), Right or Wrong. Always a bad idea.

    There’s this underlying paranoia that concern about women is “bourgeois” and an imposition of “purity”. A sort of “we shouldn’t be afraid to be un-PC” that is really the Mail comments with the names changed, and the culture that has to be protected from any change ever switched around.

  38. Robin Carmody said,

    What they call “preaching” is simply common decency. What they call “a purity test” is a concern for *all* oppressed peoples, not just their own faction.

    People like that shouldn’t be allowed to forget how slow they were to accept the Beatles as an authentically working-class outlet and form of expression. To this day, their attitude to hip-hop and grime is, again, the Mail with different objects of protectionism.

    • Rosie said,

      Ditto what they call “hypocritical moralising”.`

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