Patrick Minford: the authentic face of Brexit

August 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm (Asshole, BBC, economics, Europe, Jim D, populism, Thatcher, Tory scum)


Above: Minford exalts his heroine Thatcher

“The cost of a BMW or the price tag of an imported fridge would suddenly drop
and our resources would shift from manufacturing to services — raising
living standards for all of us”  – Patrick Minford in The Sun 15 March 2016

In yet another example of its craven grovelling to Brexiteers and right wing populism, the BBC gave prominence over the weekend, to pro-Brexit economists’ claim that leaving the EU without a trade deal would bring a “£135bn annual boost” to the economy. The article, which was the main news story on the BBC website on Sunday morning, failed to mention dodgy previous economic forecasts also made by Professor Patrick Minford, the leader of the group Economists for Free Trade

According to economics professors from the London School of Economics, Professor Minford’s earlier Brexit forecasts were “really far-fetched” and “crazy”. He “misunderstands the nature of regulations and product standards”, they added. Economist Monique Ebell from the National Institute of Social and Economic Research told the BBC that Professor Minford “ignores decades of evidence on how trade actually works”. The assumptions of Minford’s Economists for Brexit group – now rebranded as Economists for Free Trade – were previously criticised as grossly unrealistic on other grounds, including ignoring the fact that countries tend to do more trade with countries that are geographically closer, by economic modellers from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Minford, a professor at Cardiff University, can fairly claim to be the authentic face of Brexit. An ardent Thatcherite, he hates unions, supported the poll tax, wants to see the NHS and universities privatised and thinks the destruction of the British manufacturing industry would be a good thing.

It’s no wonder, then, that the Sun and Sun on Sunday adulate Minford. But shouldn’t the pro-hard Brexit idiot-left be just a little worried at finding themselves on the same side as this thoroughgoing reactionary?

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Galloway – at long last – gets his!

August 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm (Andrew Coates, anti-semitism, Asshole, communalism, corruption, crime, Galloway, gloating, posted by JD, stalinism)

Andrew Coates reports:

Call to Court to Declare George Galloway Bankrupt.

Image result for george galloway bankrupt
I used to be George Galloway you know!

Our old friend Mr 5.7% (Manchester Gorton 2017) is in hot water again.

Former aide asks court to declare George Galloway bankrupt:

Oliver KammVerified account @OliverKamm 9

My brave friend was libelled by George Galloway & she didn’t stand for it. Now Galloway faces consequences.

George Galloway is facing the threat of bankruptcy in a bitter feud with the former parliamentary aide who once complained that she had to buy his underwear.

Aisha Ali-Khan, a Muslim women’s rights activist, has issued a petition to bankrupt the former MP, according to records at the Bankruptcy Court.

Ms Ali-Khan has been engaged in a long-running dispute with Mr Galloway. Last year she accepted costs and damages, believed to be a five-figure sum, to settle a libel battle over his allegation that she had used his home for trysts. He issued a public apology in a statement read by his lawyer in the High Court.

Bankruptcy Court records show that Mr Galloway applied last month to set aside a statutory demand for payment…

The rest behind Times paywall.

George Galloway pays libel damages to former aide over ‘dirty tricks campaign’ claims 

The former MP withdrew his accusations  Samuel Osborne  Monday 20 June 2016

George Galloway has agreed to pay undisclosed damages to a former aide over claims she conspired to run a “dirty tricks campaign” against him.

The former MP withdrew his allegations against Aisha Ali-Khan and agreed to pay damages along with legal costs.

Ms Ali-Khan brought libel proceedings in London’s High Court after the Respect Party leader published a statement on his website in October 2012.

George Galloway’s firm goes bust, owing £100,000 tax

Company set up by George Galloway, the left-wing firebrand, to channel earnings from Iranian state-funded broadcaster was put into liquidation with £100,000 debts Telegraph 27th February 2016.

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Donald Trump – art connoisseur

August 18, 2017 at 11:50 am (Art and design, Asshole, posted by JD, profiteers, Racism, Trump)

At the very top of the façade

Speaking of beautiful statues that are causing Donald Trump to mourn and pine when they are moved from one spot to another, a couple of Facebook friends have been reminding us of some that were demolished altogether decades ago. They adorned what was then Bonwit Teller at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan.

At the very top of the facade were limestone relief panels of two nearly naked women brandishing large scarves, as if dancing. The architects were Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, super-traditional Beaux-Arts designers of mansions and clubs — a puzzling choice for a such an outré building. In time the reliefs would become a Bonwit Teller signature.

Image result for bonwit teller art deco figures trump

Beginning in the 1960s, a series of corporate takeovers changed the face of retailing. Bonwit’s was sold several times, and it lost the luster that Bergdorf, in particular, was able to retain. Although some ancillary stores survived until 2000, Bonwit Teller closed its store at Fifth and 56th in 1979.

That was good news for Donald Trump, who acquired the old Bonwit’s building and began demolition in 1980. He had promised the limestone reliefs of the dancing women to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which wanted them for its sculpture collection, although the offer was conditional on his being able to remove them. But suddenly workmen jackhammered them to bits.

This act was condemned by, among others, The New York Times, which said: “Evidently, New York needs to make salvation of this kind of landmark mandatory and stop expecting that its developers will be good citizens and good sports.”

The Trump organization replied that the two-ton panels were “without artistic merit,” that saving them would have delayed construction for months and cost $500,000.

Plus they weren’t Confederate generals or General Pershing or Mussolini, so you know, who cares.

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No excuses for Sarah Champion

August 17, 2017 at 6:46 pm (child abuse, Europe, immigration, Islam, Jim D, labour party, misogyny, Murdoch, Racism)

Trevor Kavanagh’s column quoted Champion approvingly

Sarah Champion would not have been wrong to have raised the question of the likely connection between sexual abusers’ cultural (not racial, or even religious) backgrounds and their attitudes towards women and girls. Others have done this without making any concessions to racism. What she was – unforgivably – wrong to have done, was to have written about such a sensitive matter in the Sun, a rag with a long and well-known record of taking a (shall we say) cavalier attitude to racism.

Indeed, all this could well have been a set-up by the Sun. They wrote the headline and quite possibly the line which made it specific about “white girls”. Champion’s office had the Sun‘s final version of the article before it was published, and, of course, she could have objected to this but either didn’t bother checking it or (more likely) was flattered to be published and thought it would raise her profile.

Even so the outcry, at first, was not that great. It looked like Champion was going to survive it. According to today’s Guardian, “the Labour leader’s office appeared to back Champion until yesterday until yesterday lunchtime, when positive emails from her office to the Sun in the aftermath of her article’s publication were highlighted by the newspaper.”  By and large Corbyn supporters online had been quiet about the issue. Even the SWP were not really kicking off about it.

What did for Champion was Trevor Kavanagh’s shamelessly racist pro-Brexit article that quoted Champion approvingly. It used language that echoed Nazi stuff about the ‘Jewish Problem’, and thanked Champion (and Trevor Phillips) for “making it acceptable to say Muslims are a specific rather than a cultural problem.”

The article closed with a sinister rhetorical question:

One day soon, if Philip Hammond and Liam Fox are right, we will be back in charge of immigration.

What will we do about The Muslim Problem then?

Not surprisingly this caused outrage and the Corbyn team, quite rightly, wanted to respond but Sarah Champion’s article was the elephant in the room, inhibiting the Labour leadership from making an immediate, outspoken response.

All the evidence (including her own record as shadow equalities minister) suggests she’s an idiot rather than a racist. But that’s no excuse. She had to go.

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US anti-fascist Spencer Sunshine: “I nearly died in Charlottesville”

August 16, 2017 at 3:16 am (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, campaigning, posted by JD, Trump, United States)

Image result for charlottesville rally

Above: the killer drives his car into anti-fascists

By Spencer Sunshine

My account of being at the counter-protests in Charlottesville, Virginia against the Unite the Right rally on August 12, 2017.

“Fascist violence is not an anomaly. The movement itself is based on violence—the glorification of violence, the use of violent tactics as organizing tools, and the end goals of ethnic cleansing and genocide. There is no such thing as “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” as alt-right leader Spencer has advocated. It is White supremacy and antisemitism first, with hatred of Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ people, feminists and leftists coming in at a close second.

The fascist Right and their allies united this weekend for what they hoped would be their big breakthrough. Before the march, AltRight.com, run by Spencer, posted, “People will talk about Charlottesville as a turning point. There will be a before Charlottesville and an after Charlottesville. Will you stand up for your history, your race and your way of life?”

For those opposed to fascism and far Right rhetoric and violence, there also needs to be a before and after. Just as fascists threaten so many groups, they provide us—Muslims, Jews, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, feminists and progressives—an opportunity. Our common enemy allows us an opportunity to come together across our differences and work together, not just to oppose and contain their movement, but to do so based on a commitment to a vision of a cosmopolitan future based on respect and equality. I hope we seize this opportunity.”

Read the full story at Colorlines

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Whatever Trump now says, fascists like Bannon and Gorka still hold sway in the White House

August 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm (anti-semitism, fascism, Jim D, nationalism, populism, profiteers, Racism, Trump, wankers)

Anyone foolish enough to be impressed by Trump’s belated condemnation of the far right, should remember that he still employs people who can  accurately be described as fascists: Bannon, Gorka and the slightly less high-profile Miller. Then, of course, there’s his own long record of blatant, crude racism.

This excellent discussion, concentrating on the sinister Gorker, is well worth putting 15 minutes aside to watch:

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Charlottesville is a call to action against fascism

August 14, 2017 at 9:02 am (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, civil rights, fascism, populism, posted by JD, Racism, solidarity, Trump, United States)

from the US SocialistWorker.org website (nothing to do with the UK SWP):

Katherine Nolde, Richard Capron and Scott McLemee round up on-the-spot reports from the deadly confrontation between the far right and anti-racists in a Virginia city.
August 14, 2017

Above: this is what Trump refused to condemn

THE FAR-right demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12–probably the largest public gathering of the racist “alt-right” ever–was clear evidence of the murderous forces nurtured and emboldened by Donald Trump over the past two years.

And it had deadly consequences: One anti-fascist protester was killed and more than two dozen injured when a neo-Nazi terrorist drove his car at high speed into a counterdemonstration led by left organizations, including the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Democratic Socialists of America and Industrial Workers of the World, among others.

Trump issued a weasel-worded condemnation of “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” that fooled no one–especially not the far right. “He refused to even mention anything to do with us,” one racist website gloated. “When reporters were screaming at him about White Nationalism he just walked out of the room.”

So the fascists see Trump as one of their own–and for good reason.

But the hate on display in Charlottesville–and promoted by the hatemonger-in-chief–is galvanizing people across the country.

News of the racist car attack was met by a wave of solidarity–within hours, there were vigils and protests in dozens of cities, followed by many more the next day, and plans for still more in the days to come. By the end of the weekend, people had taken a stand in solidarity with Charlottesville in hundreds of towns and cities.

These people who sent a message of defiance were not only repulsed by the hatred of the fascists and horrified by their violence, but they understand the need to confront this menace before it can inflict more suffering and take more lives.

Charlottesville showed the grave threat we face in the form of an emboldened far right. But it is also revealing the potential to mobilize a mass opposition to the hatemongers, whether they strut in the streets or in the Oval Office.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE THOUSANDS mobilizing against the Trump agenda in recent months are making it impossible for the far right to claim it represents more than a small part of the U.S. population.

When the Klan came to Charlottesville last month to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a city park, they attracted around 50 supporters–and were outnumbered 20 times over by antiracists.

Humiliated by this, far-right groups announced another rally for August. The city granted a permit for this past Saturday in Emancipation Park to “Unite the Right” organizers–a last-minute legal attempt to deny the permit was stayed by a judge based on an appeal by the ACLU. Permits were also granted to counterdemonstrators to assemble a couple blocks away in Justice Park.

The far right came looking for a fight in Charlottesville, and they got started Friday night with a torchlight parade on the University of Virginia campus. Chanting “Heil Trump” and “You will not replace us”–sometimes changed to “Jews will not replace us”–some used their lighted torches to threaten the small numbers of antiracist protesters who confronted them on campus.

If the racists thought they would have the same overwhelming force on their side the next day, they were wrong. The fascists were outnumbered by their opponents, ranging from Antifa contingents and the radical left to more moderate antiracist organizations. But the antifascists’ advantage wasn’t as large as it could have been.

Groups from each side made pass-by marches within sight of one another Saturday morning, and there were isolated clashes, leading to an atmosphere of confusion and uncertainly.

When a group of ISO members approached the southwest entrance to Justice Park, the counterdemonstration site, they found a handful of young white men with automatic rifles and red bandanas tied around their necks standing watch. Momentary fear dissipated when the socialists were welcomed with cheers and handshakes–these were members of Redneck Revolt, a newly formed militant Southern self-defense group. Read the rest of this entry »

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Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville

August 13, 2017 at 8:30 pm (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, civil rights, fascism, populism, posted by JD, solidarity, terror, Trump, United States)

Image result for charlottesville rally
Above: car drives into anti-fascists, killing one and injuring 19 (pic from Tendance Coatesy, which also carries reports and background information)

By Redneck Revolt at the It’s Going Down! website, Aug 13 2017

The situation on the ground in Charlottesville, Virginia, is still developing and unstable, but a few of our Redneck Revolt members on the ground took some time to provide the following reportback. We will continue to share updates as they’re available.

For those who are still unaware, this weekend has been the largest convergence of far-right and white nationalist/white supremacist organizations in recent US history. They have descended on Charlottesville, a town of approximately 48,000 people, as a response to the planned removal of a statue commemorating Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Earlier this year, self-described White Nationalist Richard Spencer led a torchlit march on the statue, with the intention of terrorizing locals who support the statue’s removal, particularly people of color.

This weekend, the stakes were raised at an event called “Unite the Right,” organized to tie together white supremacist groups across the spectrum. Participating groups and white supremacist personalities included Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker’s Party, Baked Alaska, Based Stickman, Augustus Invictus, Mike Enoch, Proud Boys, the Ku Klux Klan, and Nazi groups.

Locals and members of surrounding communities gathered in Charlottesville to take a stand against the “Unite the Right” rally, and defend their town from white supremacist organizing. Five Redneck Revolt branches from nearby towns have been on the ground in Charlottesville since yesterday, and working closely with the SRA, BLM, and local organizers to develop plans to protect the local community.

Last night, Dr. Cornel West and several local faith leaders called for a prayer meeting at the St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville. Armed Redneck Revolt members were on-hand to assist with security, when word was received that the 300+ white supremacists were marching with torches across the University of Virginia campus towards the church. Across the street from the church, the fascist march encountered several anti-fascist and student counter-protestors, and a skirmish erupted. Redneck Revolt members assisted with escorting folks from the church to their cars, and everyone was evacuated safely.

Today, with hundreds more white supremacists expected to converge on Charlottesville, our Redneck Revolt branches worked together with local organizers to create and secure a staging area at Justice Park, within a short distance of the planned Unite the Right rally location, Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park). Approximately 20 Redneck Revolt members created a security perimeter around the park, most of them open-carrying tactical rifles.

Starting from early in the morning, there were eruptions of violence scattered throughout downtown Charlottesville, and around 11:30am, the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency and ordered the police to cancel and evacuate the “Unite the Right” rally. National Guard and local police forces worked to contain the scattered violence, with little impact.

Throughout the day, the staging area at Justice Park was a safe haven for a wide range of protesters and other community members. Support teams provided food, water, medical support, and sanctuary, and groups such as the Quakers, Black Lives Matter, antifa groups, queer radical orgs, and the IWW moved in and out of Justice Park as needed to regroup and take care of each others’ injuries.

At many points during the day, groups of white supremacists approached Justice Park, but at each instance, Redneck Revolt members formed a unified skirmish line against them, and the white supremacists backed down. Most of the groups were not easily identified, but at separate points, contingents from Identity Europa and the Proud Boys were recognized. The groups that threatened the park yelled racial and homophobic slurs, and many yelled things specifically at the Redneck Revolt fire teams which indicated that they were familiar with our principles. Some of the groups that approached numbered as many as 40 people, but the security of Justice Park was never breached.

The worst moment of an entire weekend of white supremacist violence came when someone rammed their Dodge Charger into a large crowd of anti-racist protesters. A 32 year old woman was killed, and at least 19 others have been reported injured. The crash and screams were heard by the groups staged at Justice Park, and two Redneck Revolt members ran down the street and assisted in direct medical support.

There are ongoing security actions planned throughout the night, to protect groups or locations which are at a higher risk of being attacked by the fascists, and our Redneck Revolt members on the ground will continue to check in as they are able to. They are especially appreciative of the camaraderie of the SRA, and look forward to building stronger defense networks together.

For folks looking for ways to provide support, there are several fundraisers circulating for legal and medical funds for the anti-racist protesters. We have not been able to independently verify these funds yet, so we appreciate any locals who can vouch for them. These fundraisers have been shared on our national Facebook page, and we will add them to this reportback as they’re verified.

If you’re in Charlottesville, please connect with other community members and form plans to keep each other safe. Folks who feel at risk are encouraged to stay together in groups, and check in on community members regularly who may be more isolated. Take precautions if you’re going to be downtown, and be aware that there are still reports of groups of fascists wandering around looking to inflict violence. We recommend being armed if you are able to be. There are many accessible less-than-lethal options which can help out considerably in a self-defense situation, such as mace. Take the time to eat, drink water, and rest. Solidarity!


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The “erratic and chaotic” Trump administration

August 13, 2017 at 7:24 pm (identity politics, nationalism, plutocrats, populism, posted by JD, Racism, Republican Party, Russia, strange situations, Trump, United States)

 Martin Rowson 05.08.2017 Illustration: Martin Rowson (The Guardian)

Martin Thomas spoke to Andrew Gamble about the character of the Trump government. Andrew Gamble is a Professor in Politics at the University of Sheffield and the author of many books on political economy. [The interview was recorded at the end of July, before the North Korea crisis blew up, and also appears on the Workers Liberty website]

MT: Since the 1940s the world markets have been structured by a series of institutions: the WTO, the IMF, the G20, the G7, NATO. The USA has been central to all of these. Is Trump going to blow them up?

AG: He hasn’t been tested by a major international crisis yet, but almost certainly there’ll be one during his presidency. How he will react is unclear: how much he will be guided by people like Mattis and McMaster and how much he’ll do something unpredictable. There is a risk it could be the latter. While he hasn’t done much that’s very radical yet, he has certainly disoriented the complex web of international alliances that the US has put so much store by over the last 70 years. He has upset Australia and Germany: very long-standing allies. He has given comfort to Russia and some other states which are normally not close to the US at all. This has been very unsettling for lots of other states. The likelihood is that that’s going to continue because of the erratic and chaotic way the Trump administration works.

MT: The Economist (26/1/17) commented that Trump was bringing to political dealing his approach from business bombast and brokering: “he aims high, pushes and pushes, but then settles for less than he originally sought”. But, as the Economist comments, “dealing with countries is a higher-stakes game than bargaining over Manhattan building plots”.

AG: I think it is partly that. He clearly had so little actual political experience. His business background was fairly low-level – real estate – he wasn’t CEO of a major international company or anything like that. Tillerson is a different category of a businessperson from Trump. Trump’s experience was as a reality TV host. That too has coloured how he has approached things. He approaches relations with other leaders with an eye on how it’s going to play with his base and how he can make himself look good. He uses bluff and does outrageous things partly in the belief that this will enhance his ability to do deals. This is in itself a very unsettling way of conducting relations.

In the first six months he sent out more than a thousand tweets. These things are superficial in one way, but they betoken a style which is deeply unsettling: the fact that he is prepared to put things into tweets which normally, in previous presidencies, would have been private communications, the fact that he’s prepared to go public. I had wondered whether his behaviour might start to change as he learnt more about what the US Presidency was like. But it seems at the moment that this doesn’t seem to be happening. Every time his behaviour has become a bit more normal it has been followed by reverting to some of his old techniques and habits. I conclude that he probably isn’t going to learn very much and what we’ve seen in the first six months is likely to carry on.

All US Presidents have had courts. But Trump’s court is particularly fluid and has some very opposed factions within it, which, in policy terms, point in quite different directions. Trump seems to pivot from one of these factions to another, so that no faction is dominant for very long, and he plays the factions off against one another. That makes the policy even more erratic and hard to read for foreign observers. Where this is all going is strange. We should expect some major shocks, and particularly if crises of one kind or another test Trump.

MT: The Russia connection? What’s in it for Trump? And what’s in it for Russia?

AG: It is mysterious how difficult it is for Trump to shake the Russia connection off. That has led me to believe that there is something going on which we don’t understand yet. The likely thing, although there isn’t firm evidence for this yet, is that Trump’s business empire is reliant in some way on Russian money – not government money, but oligarch money. There were stories at one time, of links through Deutsche Bank, which is one of the main funders of the Trump business empire.
The multiple links of people associated with Trump with Russia are extraordinary. There is probably something of substance behind it all. He has also got people, particularly Mattis and McMaster, who represent the American political security establishment and a traditional US policy towards Russia, and that of course chimes with what a lot of Republicans want.

So Trump has been forced to concede on the sanctions. But it doesn’t stop him! The latest revelation, that at the G20 meeting [7-8 July in Hamburg] he had a second 60-minute chat with Putin in which Putin used a Russian translator and Trump wasn’t accompanied by a translator. That in itself was a breach of state department protocol. What is going on? Why would you do that, when there is so much focus on his links with Russia and his associates? Read the rest of this entry »

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Anne Marie Waters: from secular leftism to the extreme right

August 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm (Anti-Racism, campaigning, Islam, islamism, Jim D, Racism, secularism, UKIP)

Anne Marie Waters is standing for UKIPs leadership, and even some UKIP’ers are unhappy about this. She was deputy leader of UK Pegida and an ally of Tommy Robinson. She wants to confirm UKIP as an anti-Muslim party like Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party in Holland. She has appealed to anti-Muslim people to join UKIP in order to vote for her, and it seems likely that quite a few will have done so.

Only a few years ago she was a Labour Party activist (Secretary of Streatham CLP) and  was working with left wing secularists like Maryam Namzie (of One Law For All) and Peter Tatchell, as well as being a spokesperson for the National Secular Society.

 Her resignation letter to Labour in 2013 cited many things Shiraz would agree with.

… although a comrade who knew her then says this:

“She was my CLP secretary in Streatham and was a deeply unpleasant Blairite with methods of a stalinist. She doesn’t just overestimate the threat of islamism in the UK and fail to balance it with racism faced by muslims (itself more forgivable mistake in people who’ve suffered under islamofascist regimes and moved to the UK than in white women from London). It was clear while she was still in Labour that she had a hostility to muslims and specifically muslim immigrants not just islamism. I think this actually does have a link to her work in the Labour party and her wild anti immigrant rhetoric …”

There is a long and sordid history of people moving from the left to the far right. Oswald Mosley was seen as a leftie Labour MP until he left to form the New Party.  It would be as stupid to taint people on the left who worked with Waters as it would be to call Nye Bevan “soft on fascism” because he was Mosley’s ally when the latter was still in the Labour Party.

Here’s what Maryam Namzie wrote when Waters went over to UKIP and formed ‘Sharia Watch’:

Walking a tightrope: Between the pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right

UPDATE: 7 May 2014

One Law for All opposes new Sharia Watch campaign

As you all know, Co-Spokesperson Anne Marie Waters resigned in November 2013. What you don’t know is that her resignation followed more recent political disagreements on some key issues, including One Law for All’s refusal to collaborate with the members of racist and far-Right groups and our insistence on the need to distinguish between Muslims/immigrants and Islamists. “Walking a Tightrope: Between a Pro-Islamist Left and the far-Right” below was written in response to the disagreements in question.

Given the context of Anne Marie’s resignation, her initiation of “Sharia Watch” and her leaving the Labour Party and joining UKIP as a candidate should be seen as an attempt at organising a “respectable” rightwing response to the issue of Sharia law and the furtherance of a politics that is diametrically at odds with One Law for All’s. As I mentioned in “Walking a Tightrope”, whilst frustration and a sense of betrayal at the Pro-Islamist Left is understandable, finding solace in and partnership with the racist Right and far-Right is not.

Since its establishment last month, Sharia Watch has publicised links like “Muslim Rape Culture” from the ghastly Frontpage Magazine, given updates on the far-Right Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller and the English Defence League, publicised videos like “Sacrificing our Daughters: On the Psychology of Islamic Rape Gangs”, and written a piece on how halal meat funds terrorism!

We want to make very clear that we have no links with Sharia Watch, UKIP or Anne Marie Waters and will oppose their brand of racist hate politics every step of the way.

One Law for All is proud of the broad-based coalition of secular Muslim, ex-Muslim, non-Muslim, atheist…  groups and individuals it has helped shape over nearly 6 years of organising and activism. As is very clear from our work, our fight is not just a fight against Sharia; it is first and foremost a fight against Islamism and the religious-Right as well as countering racism and for equality, universal and citizenship rights, international solidarity, and secularism.

******************
Opposing Sharia and Islamism in the west is like walking on a tight rope most of the time – thwarting attacks from the Left, refuting cultural relativism, preventing alliances with the far-Right, explaining the issues ignored by government and the media, mobilising support for secularism and citizenship whilst opposing racism and xenophobia, and making linkages with the many fighting Islamism on the ground in countries across the world. It’s easy to fall off the tight rope and doesn’t surprise me when it happens given all the pressures involved.

Most disconcerting for many are the pressures from the Left; it is particularly hard when your “natural allies” betray basic human principles whilst using the language of rights and tolerance to defend the denial of rights and the intolerable.

Take this past weekend’s panel discussion at the NYU Global Secularisms conference that I was on. One of my co-panellists said she opposed all fundamentalists, including secular ones, when asked about my talk and another accused me of aiding and abetting racism against Muslims and Arabs by my very use of the term Sharia (I’ll have to comment on these later).

Add to this constant demonization, the day to day difficulties of doing such work, including the threats and all the clandestine attempts at intimidation and it is quite easy to see how one can be disillusioned and fall off the tightrope. (Just this week, I was asked to reassure a ‘moderate Muslim gentleman’ – read Islamist – with the content of my talk though he wouldn’t be attending and wanted me disinvited.)

I suppose it’s easier for people like me to stay the course coming from an Iranian Left political tradition with crystal clear clarity and an uncompromising defence of humanity. The Left I belong to has opposed cultural relativism and defended universal values and hasn’t sided with the Iranian regime or Syria’s Asad like Stop the War Coalition and the Socialist Workers Party.

When faced with such betrayal, I can fully understand that, for some, staying on course becomes impossible. What I can’t understand and will never accept, though, is falling off the tightrope or even trying to stay on whilst simultaneously finding solace in and partnership with the far-Right.

The argument in favour of collaboration with the far-Right is that we need as many allies as possible in the fight against Sharia and Islamism, which means that we must be “inclusive” and “tolerant” of those whose views we may find distasteful – all for the “cause.”

Sound familiar?

Is this not what the pro-Islamist Left says in justifying its collaboration with the Islamists?

I for one already work with many groups and individuals whose views I find distasteful; it is possible to do that in specific campaigns like One Law for All. But no movement includes or represents everyone. There are limits. And there are principles that are more important than any “cause.”

Also, creating movements is not merely a numbers game. When Stop the War Coalition brought in Islamists as partners, it ignored Islamic terrorism and discrimination against women. It sided with oppressive regimes, segregated meetings and defended Sharia and the veil. It brought lots of people to the streets initially but at what cost and for how long?

Collaborating with the likes of the English Defence League (EDL) may increase numbers in the short-term, but it’s self-defeating. This isn’t only about numbers. Aims and principles matter too.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I’m against the war on Iraq as is Al Qaeda but we’re against it for different reasons. I’m against Sharia and so is the EDL and the supposedly reinvented Tommy Robinson but we’re against it for different reasons.

I oppose Sharia in Britain and everywhere because universal rights, secularism, women’s rights and equality mean something to me. The EDL and Tommy Robinson oppose it because they want to defend their “homeland” (which I am reminded is a human right recognised by the UN) from “the changes and dangers brought to it by mass influxes of people from cultures they don’t understand or recognise.” Can you not see the fundamental differences in position? Theirs is a xenophobic position that blames immigrants and minorities for everything wrong with Britain. It’s a racist perspective that sees the teeming masses as the “other” trying to change white, British, Christian culture.

But people’s “culture” is not based on their immigration or citizenship status. Not every white European represents enlightenment values – as the EDL clearly proves. Nor is every immigrant or minority a regressive theocrat. This is not about a clash of civilisations between a regressive “east” and a secularist “west” but a clash between theocrats and the religious-Right on the one hand and secularists and democrats, including Muslims and immigrants on the other.

Where we each stand is based on our politics and choices not on our “identity” or immigration status. I too am one of those teeming immigrant masses after all as are many who are at the forefront of doing much of the dirty work of defending secularism in Britain and elsewhere.

It always annoys me to no end when I hear that the EDL are the only ones speaking out against Sharia. Please, we were speaking out against Sharia when EDL/BNP-types were openly collaborating with neo-Nazis and for white supremacy. Their language may have changed but political movements and organisations are thankfully not merely judged by the duplicitous language they use.

An undue focus on Britain, “homeland” and the west means that one can only see the likes of the EDL, thereby seeking common cause where there is none.

It also means that one cannot see the real allies in this fight, including amongst the “teeming hoards of immigrants” and women and men struggling in Iran, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere. One Law for All and the fight against Sharia and Islamism is a continuation of their struggle and fight – not that of the EDL’s and far-Right.

The far-Right will never have a place in One Law for All. I will make sure of that.

***
As an aside, I must briefly address the fact that Tommy Robinson has left the EDL. I for one have nothing against working towards common goals with those who have left far-Right organisations – EDL or Islamist. One Law for All already works with ex-Islamists and ex-members of the BNP and EDL. However, I am doubtful that Tommy is a changed man. When Ed Hussain or Majid Nawaaz left Hizb ut Tahrir and founded Quilliam Foundation, they criticised the Islamist organisation they left and created a new position and space for themselves and others. Tommy has yet to do that. So far, all I have heard from him is how proud he is of his time with the EDL; he continues to defend the organisation. He has merely criticised certain elements within the EDL but not the organisation itself and its politics. One can’t be ex-EDL and still defend the EDL if one wants to show that they have truly changed. Islamists do this all the time by changing their organisational name and carrying on with business as usual.

Personally I think this is all a publicity stunt for Tommy to reinvent himself into a more palatable persona without any lasting change in his politics. (Notice how the BBC follows him everywhere?) For his politics to be considered different, he would need to take responsibility for the EDL’s far-Right politics during his leadership and must be judged not only by what he says but by what he does. Only time will tell whether he is the same old Tommy; I certainly hope not.

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