Hot Air and Brickbats

October 18, 2008 at 10:26 am (AWL, CPGB, Iran, israel, left, political groups, sectarianism, voltairespriest)

Last Sunday’s AWLCMP debate about Israel and Iran was certainly one of those events where one can say forever after that “I was there”. Not that one would necessarily want to do so in polite company because it would be rather like admitting publicly to having attended a pro wrestling or UFC cage fighting match. Nevertheless it was quite a spectacle. I suppose  therefore it’s as well to write something about it because all of the testimony I’ve seen about it thus far has come from the two real protagonists in the room, the AWL and CPGB.

What was noteworthy about the two main platform speakers (Sean Matgamna of the AWL and Moshe Machover of the CMP) was that neither one actually got into the issue which sparked the extraordinary sectarian mud-wrestling in the weeks leading up to the debate, namely Sean’s article about a hypothetical Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran and what stance the left should take towards it. I will freely state at this point that I thought the article was awful, and that it certainly left me with the impression of a growing squeamishness on the part of the AWL towards opposing belligerent and ideologically driven western actions in the Middle East region. However, it does not actually call for, nor “excuse” such an Israeli attack, and much of the hyperbole thrown at the AWL by various other groups about this is simply straw-manning. But back to the debate.

If you really have nothing better to do, you can hear the debate via this link on the AWL site, or watch it here on CPGB TV. What should strike you first is that the CPGB had no platform speaker, an interesting tactic given that they evidently think they, and not Machover or the “CMP” were the ones supposedly debating the AWL. Certainly both groups had submitted lists of “priority speakers”, leading to the bizarre situation of there being not one floor speaker between opening speeches and summations whose choice was not pre-determined. Indeed, real speeches from the floor were not taken until after the summations, lending the whole thing even more of a contrived air than it already had.

After Sean had delivered what largely struck me as the AWL’s line on Zionism and the state of Israel and Moshe had responded in kind, those “priority speakers” began. It was really this section which set the tone for the evening, which can fairly well be equated to watching a fight. For hours on end. Reflecting yet again how weird and quirky they can be, the CPGB had clearly gone into the room (above a pub, lest we forget) determined to make drinking one of the big issues of the day, as is reflected in Mark Fisher’s rather odd write-up of the event in the latest Weekly Worker (AWL version of events here). He’s certainly not a secret lemonade drinker, and I daresay the R Whites Customer of the Year award is on its way, comrade. This was certainly reflected in a speech from Ben Lewis, whose contribution could perhaps rather adroitly be described (to borrow Paul Hampton’s description of Lewis himself), as being one “for whom truth is an incidental convenience, much like the broken clock which tells the right time”. It was a trult vile, petty and sectarian rant, which contained (amonst other things) outright untruths about people who write on this site. Lewis pretty well admitted as much on the latter when I spoke to him about it after the meeting. Make of that what you will.

The other CPGB contributions were in a similarly goading vein, and certainly in my view bear a large part of the responsibility for the generally acrimonious atmosphere which led Steve Freeman, in the chair, at one point to despairingly offer to call the meeting to a halt should people prefer to resolve the debate via a “punch up” downstairs. That having been said, full marks for comedy to Peter Manson for a speech which reduced the room to giggles when he proclaimed that the Weekly Worker would never tell a lie whilst he was its editor. Either way that group’s whole interventionlooked to me like it was designed to do nothing more than provoke hostility, an impression further reinforced by the fact that they did not have to defend their own politics on the topic of the meeting at all, having not put them forward from the platform in the first place. Naturally, Fischer’s account of the meeting, whilst bewailing the hostility directed at the CPGB, neglects to mention what built up to it.

The trouble is, the AWL fell for it. Paul Hampton’s belligerent contribution is mentioned by Fischer, but the truth is that many of the AWL floor speakers were not dissimilar in tone or content. Whatever one thinks of the AWL’s politics, they are usually nimble and sure-footed performers in set-piece debates. But on this occasion the overall impression that came across was one of blind rage – which did not serve them well given that response was, to me, clearly the one which the CPGB had come looking for. It didn’t look good, comrades. Indeed, as I’ve mentioned briefly in comments on my pre-debate thread, I ran into a young woman outside the meeting, who would have made a thoroughly sensible contribution were it not for the fact that she was worried about the reaction she would get. Comrades, you must share the responsibility with the CPGB for such perceptions.

There were several bloggers present at the meeting, and I would imagine that Dave Osler’s look and muttered “fuckin’ ‘ell” as we passed on the stairs rather sums up what most of their reactions to the hideous but perversely fascinating spectacle will have been. I finally gave up during the final section (actual contributions from the floor, after the summations) and went downstairs for a break. There I got chatting with Messers Eric Lee and Dave Hirsh, which was probably the most sensible piece of political debate I saw all night.

All in all, the meeting was ultimately pointless, albeit oddly entertaining for a jaded character such as myself. Really the debate need never have happened, and indeed could hardly be called a “debate” as such. If this is the left in discussion about politics then we really are finished. I hope very much that future debate on the Middle East does not look like that.

68 Comments

  1. johnathan rook said,

    “However, it does not actually call for, nor “excuse” such an Israeli attack,”

    yes yes but who are we to condemn it? (this is wearing a little thin)

  2. voltairespriest said,

    What is?

  3. Darren said,

    the vanguardist left . . . the smartest guys in the room. 😉

  4. modernity said,

    “If this is the left in discussion about politics then we really are finished.”

    Volty,

    the remnants of the British “Leninists” are in their death agony, the aftermath of the anti-war movement showed that

    if the British Left couldn’t connect to the millions who were against the invasion of Iraq and turn it into something meaningful, then there is little hope

    if the British Left couldn’t turn the largest mass movement in 60 years into a radical political cleavage then there is nothing to suggest that the British Left can revive itself on a diet of stale politics, outdated slogans and creeds, poor organizational abilities, political structures, which concentrate power top down, which are better suited to Czarist Russia than 21st century Europe.

    The British Left (with a few notable exception) has a real problem getting to grasp with new ideas, new technologies and making itself relevant to real people’s existences

    it is hardly coincidental that the British Left’s decline has been marked by the growth of the Far Right, in the form of the BNP and an increase in communalism

    until the British Left learns some of the lessons from European groupings or at least tries to acknowledge these problems then the decline could become terminal

  5. Janine said,

    Hi Volty. I was struck by this description of Sean’s article: “it certainly left me with the impression of a growing squeamishness on the part of the AWL towards opposing belligerent and ideologically driven western actions in the Middle East region. ”

    Now, I dislike Sean’s article, and have clearly stated so, but it is an article about a potential *Israeli* strike on Iran – so I was wondering when Israel relocated itself to the west.

  6. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Politically it’s aligned with the West. If you’re taking geographical location as a definition, I presume you’d also not count Australia?

  7. Janine said,

    I think that part of the problem of the ‘left”s analysis of theMiddle East is that it insists on assessing Israel simply as a proxy for the USA. I’d suggest that the Israeli ruling class has proved many times, in quite horrible ways, that it is capable of acting in its own perceived self-interest – and even if it would prefer the USA’s permission, will act without if necessary.

    Defining its action – real or potential – as ‘western’ does not help. It also might suggest to some – whether you intend this or not, which you probably don’t – that Israel is in the wrong place ie. should not be there.

  8. Voltaire's Priest said,

    On the latter point, only if you were really looking to falsely accuse someone of veiled anti-semitism, which I’m sure you’re not.

    I think it’s perfectly fair comment to say that Israel is a western client state, and one that is politically (as well as culturally in many ways) more closely aligned with the West than with most of the other states in the region. Israel is widely considered a part of the Western “family” of powers in a way that even other “allies” such as Saudi Arabia or the UAE are not.

  9. Southpawpunch said,

    But on the event – why do people go, and get so excited about it beforehand? It was very clear that it would just be a performance, a piece of theatre with any serious discussion about the issues way down the bill. Israel/Palestine, above all other things, leads to so much heat and so very little light. Knowing such I wouldn’t attend.

    There’s a caustic tradition of trainspotting in British leftism,in which people may leave a 100 comments about some post about an internal argument in the SWP but just 2 about a request for information abut union organisation.

    I can’t think why someone like Dave Osler (very much an ex Trot) would show – he clearly wouldn’t expect to be informed by what is said as that broad tradition is no longer his politics – so I think it can be only for amusement. I mention him only because he is a name of someone mentioned who wasn’t there as a speaker but it would be true for many of those attending.

    If the AWL and CPGB really wanted to iron stuff out they could have exchanged emails but they know there will be enough punters who will turn up like the gawpers did at Bedlam. The sort of people who will be desperate for Left gossip but not even attend their union branch meeting.

    I really feel such flibbertygibbet hobbyists get in the way and present a very poor impression of the Left to those moving towards ‘us’ (sic), such as new students. I wish they would all depart and take up Dungeons and Dragons or amateur dramatics instead.

    Or maybe model railways.I’m sure there must be arguments there (gauge size?), personal fallings out, minor scandals (duff scenery?). Please leave.

  10. Janine said,

    Volty

    It seems a little off the wall to me to describe (the prospect of) an Israeli attack on Iran as ‘western’ as though it were no different from a US attack. Particularly a (potential) attack which – rightly or wrongly – might be prompted by fear of a nuclear threat to the existence of Israel.

    You wouldn’t describe the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as ‘western’, would you? That is surely ‘Israeli’!

    Labelling a potential attack by Israel on Iran as ‘western’ seems to me to obscure any consideration that it might even be considered to be an act of self-defence by Israel. (For clarity: the idea that I think we might usefully *consider* that does not mean that I support such an attack. Or excuse it. I oppose it.)

  11. Voltaire's Priest said,

    No Janine but the reason the occupation is allowed to continue is very much “western” and that is why Israel is identifiable with the West. Do you really think the US and UK would have sat on their hands throughout this time if Israel was a client state of China?

  12. Alan Laurence said,

    VP
    what do you mean by, ‘client state’ please?

  13. charliethechulo said,

    CPGB “theorist” Mike McNair turns out to be an advocate of the third-worldist, Stalinist and anti-Marxist “dependency theory”, to judge by his contribution at the debate:

    “There is a basic thing missing from the arguments of the comrades of the AWL…The world is not composed of a flat system of states which are all equal to one another. The…inequality between these states is not purely economic…

    “There is politically constituted exploitation in the modern world. There are systematic hierarchical links between states…the dominance of one stae over another state, dependency of one state on another state..”

    It was useful to hear McNair come out with this stuff, though I was surprised and appalled: but at least we now know that we’re not dealing with Marxists at all, but with third-worldist, Stalinist dependency-theory people.

  14. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Alan;

    If I was using less of a shorthand term I would say something like “politically and/or financially dependant upon for its survival”.

  15. Richard said,

    I don’t think Israel is either politically and/or financially dependant” upon the US for its survival. Political or financial support from the US only started in the mid / late 1960’s. Financially Israel receives about 2 billion dollars from the US. Israel’s gdp is just under 200 billion dollars. So Israel is not dependant on the US financially.

  16. Voltaire's Priest said,

    OK, so what would happen tomorrow if the US cut the ties?

  17. Voltaire's Priest said,

    PS incidentally none of this means that I think Israel should be wiped off the map, Jews driven into the sea or whatever. I support a two state outcome to the immediate issue between Israel and Palestine.

  18. Richard said,

    “OK, so what would happen tomorrow if the US cut the ties?”

    If it cut financial ties , then it would be tougher for Israelis for sure , but Israel would still survive.

    With regard to cutting political ties. Firstly it’s such a hypothetical suggestion , it reminds me of when i was a kid and i was asked who would i support in a war between Israel and the UK. However to answer such a hypothetical question , i would say that it would become even more militaristic , it would be in a similar position to other countries who do not have the support of the US (or Russia or China).

    But if you think about it , it’s such a pie in the sky question.

    The accusation that Israel could only survive with US political and financial support is an accusation used to show that Israel is not a real country but simply a colony of America / western imperialism.

    Now i know VP that you don’t hold with the above but i’d ask you to maybe reflect on your original comment and i suggest perhaps it isn’t the wisest of comments to make ?

  19. Voltaire's Priest said,

    No, it wouldn’t become a similar country to Russia or China – because it is tiny and has a fraction of their military clout. It would, more likely, become a lot more vulnerable to attack. Saying “it’s a hypothetical question” (which of course it is indeed, although that rather goes to my point) does not alter that.

    Israel is a real country. It’s also one dependent on outside powers for its survival. Both of those points are true, and they’re not mutually exclusive.

  20. Richard said,

    VP. Perhaps i wasn’t clear but i referred to Russia and China in the same context as the US. There are countries which receive financial and political support from China and Russia.

    There aren’t many countries who don’t rely on support from the US or Russia or China. Following your logic , nearly every country in the world is a client state ?

  21. Richard said,

    But even without US support it would still survive. It would be tough but it would survive.

  22. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Not in quite the same way Richard – there would for instance be little risk of French troops steaming up the beaches at Dover if the US and UK were to have a falling out.

    On the second point I just don’t understand how you can see that being possible.

  23. Richard said,

    If need-be it would source its weapons elsewhere and it has rather a sophisticated arms industry utself. And let’s not forget that Israeli has nuclear weapons (which incidentally it didn’t get from the US).

    And as we are being hypothetical what if France or even Russia decided to attack the UK and the US no longer supported the UK. I know it’s a crazy unbelievable situation but so is yours. In that respect isn’t the UK be a client state ?

    If we choose hypothetical situations then every country bar the US / China and Russia are client states. So your analogy is unhelpful. Go sleep !

  24. Richard said,

    BTW was there any food in the pub where the debate was ? I don’t think i could have sat there for over three hours without something to eat ! I always like to nash when i go to the cinema / theatre.

  25. Voltaire's Priest said,

    That isn’t correct Richard – there’s a difference between being part of the general political/economic web and (wrongly) being regarded as illegitimate by one’s neighbours and thus directly dependant on outside powers for security of existence. And you’re up just as late as I am!

    No, there was no food on offer at the meeting. It’s possible that the Lucas do some kind of bar food though, albeit that I didn’t see anyone eating any. To be honest though I don’t really think even a King’s banquet would have sustained a normal person through to the end of that 3-hour-odd grind. Hence I repaired downstairs in the middle of the final round of floor contributions – and presumably why Eric and Dave did the same… we’re just less hardy (or perhaps less weird?) than them other characters…

  26. Richard said,

    Old Jewish saying going back centuries “They tried to kill us , we won , let’s eat”

  27. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Heh… I wish someone had said that in the debate 😀

    I mean, the meeting itself was entertaining if you’re a saddo like me who: a) follows the Trot/Stalinist esoterica that you’d need to know in order to understand the real row that underlay the superficial topic of the meeting, and b) isn’t too sqeamish about watching a large crowd of (mainly) middle aged men acting like hecklers in Hyde Park, albeit largely without the witty put-downs. But to someone new to the left it must have looked like a political PT Barnum show.

  28. Richard said,

    I noticed an old friend of mine while watching the video. He’s not in any group and it wasn’t really his thing so i’ll be interested to see what he has to say.

  29. johng said,

    Charliethetub’s contribution is hilarious. He seems to believe that denying that we live in a world of sovereign equality is equivilant to “stalinism” and ‘”third worldism”. In other words a bog standard liberal account of the world order is compulsory for Marxists. Janine wins the world cup for comedy though. What a bizarre bunch. Oddly the defence of the status quo is here couched in much more naive terms then actual representives of that status quo would ever articulate. Machovar was entirely correct about this. Its what makes the politics of this so odd. Nothing whatsoever to do with the left though.

  30. modernityblog said,

    JohnG wrote:

    “Its what makes the politics of this so odd. “

    the same might have been said at Marxism xxxx, when Gilad Atzmon started to spout his anti-Jewish racism, but the SWP kept inviting him back for more?

    Has anyone ask Gilad’s best SWP mate, Martin Smith, what he thinks about Atzmon’s latest racist rant on “Jewish Bankers”?

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/10/10/gilad-atzmon-the-credit-crunch-is-a-zio-punch/

  31. voltairespriest said,

    Doubt it, the SWP don’t really do accountability at general level. Even if a member of theirs did think it was the wrong decision to have taken, the public “line” would be to explain it away in some implausible fashion. Try picking a subject where the SWP have clearly been inconsistent and then ask one of their members about it when you next pass one of their paper sales. They’ll tell you in tortured fashion just why both positions were completely correct and do not contradict each other. It can be mildly amusing to watch them tie themselves in knots.

  32. Darren said,

    Volty,

    Reading your report, I’m curious: Did you ever “psychologically break” from the AWL? 😉

    The vanguardist left: the smartest guys in the room.

  33. Voltaire's Priest said,

    What does “psychologically breaking” from a group entail precisely? I vaguely recall this being something an AWL’er said to you (referring to the SPGB) when you were a member, but for the life of me I can’t remember the context or what s/he was on about precisely.

  34. charliethechulo said,

    John G: Class politics and Marxism is esentially about class struggle within nations, rather than a supposeed “hierarchy” of nations within capitalism,: that;s a-b-c Marxism and revolutionary socialism; It’s Trotskyism’s fundamental difference with Stalinism. The fact that you, as a member of a supposedly “Trot” group don’t understand this elementary point, tells us a very great deal about the degeneration of British “left” politics in general, and the SWP in particular.

  35. John Molyneux said,

    from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically)

  36. modernityblog said,

    would that be the same Hamas, which recently broke the teacher’s strike and used scabs?

    “The Hamas government announced Tuesday that it would not permit thousands of striking teachers to return to their jobs, further heightening tensions with its political rivals in the West Bank.

    The strike was called Aug. 24 by the West Bank-based teachers’ union. It was seen, in part, as an attempt to disrupt life in Gaza and weaken Hamas.

    Most of Gaza’s 10,000 public school teachers are still paid by the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Despite the strike, Hamas kept schools running and hired some 2,200 new teachers and administrators.

    On Tuesday, Deputy Education Minister Yousef Ibrahim of Hamas said in a statement that striking teachers would not be allowed to return to work.

    He also said legal action would be taken against those on strike, but did not explain further.”

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=2162

  37. Alan Laurence said,

    Come on – it really isn’t right for the blogmaster to allow scurrilous posts which purport to be from a well known individual – even when they are cruelly funny.

  38. Voltaire's Priest said,

    For all I know it could be another John Molyneux…

  39. Darren said,

    Volty,

    It was Tom R who whispered it in my ear during another boozy and fractious debate in the Lucas Arms many, many years ago.

    I believe that he has since left the AWL but, at the time of writing, is still to ““psychologically break” from them. 🙂

    ‘The vanguardist left: the smartest guys in the room.’

  40. Richard said,

    I doubt it’s Molyneux but it is a quote from an article by Molyneux.
    This should be of interest Alan.

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=2007

  41. Alan Laurence said,

    Jeez – maybe Molyneaux was pissed or is a bit of a drama queen. Then again – didnt he launch a protest slate against the SWP majority and get a bit of a doing? Maybe he’s just crap at politics.

  42. modernityblog said,

    you mean they don’t allow too many SWPers on to the Internet, just in case they put their foot in it, as Molyneux has?

    it is scary to think that Molyneux is one of the SWP’s top intellectuals, it is like putting Benny from Crossroads in charge of nuclear missiles

  43. voltairespriest said,

    There again, maybe it’s one of those Guido Fawkes/”Peter Hitchens” moments. Who knows?

  44. Alan Laurence said,

    it doesnt matter – now that Richard has provided the link to the source of the quote it doesnt matter who posted under JM’s name. He wrote the paragraph – its not a spoof.

  45. voltairespriest said,

    You sound surprised?

  46. Alan Laurence said,

    Well, you know…

  47. modernityblog said,

    Alan,

    it is a very famous quote, and it shows how far the SWP has declined, that’s what sucking up to theists will do for you?

    btw, have you read any histories of the Third International, the ducks and dives that they did and how, at the time, the political activists rationalised it, but with a moment of hindsight we can show what a stinking pile of shite it was?

    well, that’s what I think we are watching now, in slow motion, by comparison the SWP make Palm Dutt look like a solid and principled individual

  48. voltairespriest said,

    Actually it’ll be interesting to see what they do now. My own guess would be that they’ll go back to the ultra-leftism of the mid 1990s. Members of TU broad lefts should brace themselves for an influx of slightly moth-eaten looking people with mockney accents turning up and screaming “Gen’rul stroike naaah!” and such like.

  49. Darren said,

    Finally got to watch part of the debate on CPGB TV (sic).

    is it just me, or has the Lucas Arms meeting room shrunk in size? I don’t remember it being that small.

    The contributions from the floor were good knockabout entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less. And any people who think it was particularly acrimonious because of the sensitivity of the subject matter debated haven’t really attended many debates on the left.

    The debate had less to do with Israel, Iran and the left and more to do with what the late Al Richardson referred to as ‘consumer socialism’. A couple of organisations who were sniffing around each other a few years back so they could poach members off each other. They got too close and they’ve been arguing over the same old comb ever since.

    Kind of surprising to recognise a hell of a lot of people in the audience despite the fact that I’ve been living in the United States for over three years. A number of people looking a wee bit older and/or a bit more portly. (Aren’t we all 😉 A lack of new faces must be worrying for all groups.

    Nice surprise to see Dave B of the AWL (not Dave Broder) at the debate. Conclusive proof – and it’s needed – that you can be a vanguardist and a nice bloke at the same time. 😉

    ‘The vanguardist left: the smartest guys in the room.’

  50. Mike Macnair said,

    Charliethechulo’s #34 is a remarkable piece of self-deception.

    CTC: “Class politics and Marxism is esentially about class struggle within nations, rather than a supposeed “hierarchy” of nations within capitalism,: that;s a-b-c Marxism and revolutionary socialism;”

    MM: This “a-b-c” is actually Proudhon’s and Lassalle’s position, not Marx and Engels’. See for example Engels’ ‘What have the working classes to do with Poland?’ (1866), or Marx and Engels’ separate comments on the lack of internationalism in the Gotha Programme (1875), or their various comments on the Irish question – all readily available on MIA.

    In fact, the AWL’s line on Israel-Palestine precisely supposes that hierarchical relations between nations do exist under capitalism (Israel oppresses the Palestinians) and that British socialists should be concerned about this (we should propose a two-state solution).

    CTC: “It’s Trotskyism’s fundamental difference with Stalinism.”

    MM: This is really laughable. I am, personally, opposed to Trotsky’s views on the “anti-imperialist united front” and the argument that socialists world-wide should defend the “colonial country” in wars with any “imperialist country”. I have argued the point openly, most recently in “Ditch the strategic illusion” http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/696/iran%20imperialism.htm.

    That said, there is really no doubt that Trotsky *did* argue that there was a principled obligation of socialists to ‘favour the victory’ of colonial countries engaged in wars with imperialist countries: citations in the Weekly Worker article just cited. In arguing this position he was defending the positions of the Comintern formed in the time of Lenin.

    So was Trotsky a “Stalinist”? On CTC’s definition, yes. I guess Martin Thomas would be less likely to produce this particular piece of stupidity …

  51. paul m said,

    The things is Mike, what do you say about the mud-raking, and half-truths used, as a matter of course by the WWG. For example how many AWLers were drunk at the recent debate?

  52. voltairespriest said,

    Darren – it was surprising to recognise so many people? Really? 😉

  53. Mike Macnair said,

    Paul M – I don’t know how many AWLers were drunk, but certainly a lot of you/ them were *acting* drunk and aggressive. Since the meeting was in a pub, drinking is the simplest explanation.

    The alternative possibility is Healyism – you collectively wind yourselves up into a frenzy over the “kitsch left”, “antisemitism” etc and as a result intervene like high-period WRPers.

    I’m not sure that attributing the behaviour to drink isn’t a *friendlier* response to it than this …

  54. Darren said,

    Volty,

    I recognised you at the back of the room. 😉

  55. Janine said,

    “I don’t know how many AWLers were drunk, but certainly a lot of you/ them were *acting* drunk and aggressive. Since the meeting was in a pub, drinking is the simplest explanation. ”

    That’s actually quite a classic example of Weekly worker logic.

    It’s a bit like saying “I haven’t a clue how many of those people over there support Arsenal, but certainly quite a few of them are *acting* like people who support Arsenal and enjoy cricket, and as we are in north London, being Arsenal supporters is the simplest explanation.”

  56. paul m said,

    Indeed Janine.

    According their latest estimates, it was two drunk AWLers: hardly the picture painted in WW last week and knowing the people involved probably not true.

  57. Alan Laurence said,

    There is something odd about this…the cpgb go looking for a fight, some people get cross and then the cpgb get all moralistic about tempers. Not having the bottle to put up one of their own for the debate they reassure themselves with tales that a sunday school teacher would warm to.
    What type of organisation bans their members from drinking in meetings and yet prints Sunday Sun type lies?

  58. modernityblog said,

    I think the CPGB’s tactics at the meeting were fairly transparent, allow someone else to attack the AWL as a proxy

    Moshe can make any comments he wants with no fear of being accused of racism against Israeli, not so the CPGB if they had had a speaker

    so they wanted to stir things up, but have a get out clause.

  59. Lobby Ludd said,

    Janine said:

    “It’s a bit like saying “I haven’t a clue how many of those people over there support Arsenal, but certainly quite a few of them are *acting* like people who support Arsenal and enjoy cricket, and as we are in north London, being Arsenal supporters is the simplest explanation.”

    I’m not sure what this is meant to mean. If someone acts like they are an Arsenal supporter, unless there is good evidence that they are acting, then in all probability they actually are an Arsenal supporter. If someone acts as if they are drunk, unless there is good evidence that they are ‘acting drunk’, then in all probability they are drunk.

    What it turns on is behaviour – looks like a duck and all that.

    Paul M:

    “According their latest estimates, it was two drunk AWLers: hardly the picture painted in WW last week and knowing the people involved probably not true”

    Well, Paul, you certainly have a wry sense of humour.

    Alan L:

    “What type of organisation bans their members from drinking in meetings and yet prints Sunday Sun type lies?”

    An organisation that wants well ordered meetings and knows what papers are published on Sunday, perhaps?

    No doubt a shambles, but the AWL still has to defend the view that Israel has good reason to attack Iran.

  60. Voltaire's Priest said,

    There’s something of a meme starting here, which hols that the CPGB were “well behaved” in that meeting and that the AWL were not. That is not what happened. There was more than enough misbehaviour to go round, from both sides.

  61. Janine said,

    A great deal of what people do when they are drunk can also be behaviour displayed by people who are not drunk. So unless someone was visibly drinking ten pints on the trot, falling over, flinging their arms round the person sitting next to them, declaring everyone in the world to be their best friend, puking all over their shoes, and singing “show me the way to go home”, then “acting drunk” – or what Mike actually wrote, “acting drunk or aggressive” – is a bit weak, isn’t it?

    I suspect he means they were a bit loud and not very courteous. And if you are a bit loud and not very courteous in a pub, that entitles the Weekly Worker to conclude that you were drunk. No further evidence required.

    BTW, anyone remember the WW’s revelation that Bob Crow and George Galloway were planning a joint slate for the GLA election this year? That turned out to be bollocks too, didn’t it? But the WW was entitled to print it cos they had heard someone claim it was true and all they actually reported was that they had heard someone claim it was true. No further evidence or investigation required.

  62. Alan Laurence said,

    LL
    Quite right – I meant to say Sunday Sport, not Sunday Sun.

  63. Lobby Ludd said,

    I have no wish to give life to the ‘meme’.

    Janine says:

    “A great deal of what people do when they are drunk can also be behaviour displayed by people who are not drunk. So unless someone was visibly drinking ten pints on the trot, falling over, flinging their arms round the person sitting next to them, declaring everyone in the world to be their best friend, puking all over their shoes, and singing “show me the way to go home”, then “acting drunk” – or what Mike actually wrote, “acting drunk or aggressive” – is a bit weak, isn’t it?”

    Can’t say I agree – you give too extreme a test for being drunk.

    I don’t care about ‘who started it’? Nor I am not a puritan.

    So, does the AWL think that an attack by the state of Israel on Iran has any rationale at all? (Not that you would support it, of course.)

    (Does any significant Israeli politician think an attack on Iran makes sense?)

    Sean Matgamna has put the AWL in an indefensible position.

    That’s his role in life.

  64. modernityblog said,

    Not sure about the “did someone drink in a Pub” argument or not, can’t see much political in that, granted I don’t read the weekly workers so am not privy to the petty gossip that flies around, but still

    all seems a bit detached from the real issues in the Middle East

  65. charliethechulo said,

    Sean Matgamna has raised perfectly reasonable points about the “left”‘s dual standards and hypocricy towards Israel. He ran rings round Moche Machover at the deabate. It is the charlatans, liars and opportunists of the CPGB who are now in an “indefensible” postion: having thrown in their lot with the anti-Israeli “left” and, in effect, denied Israel’s right to defend itself under any circumstances…how much longer can they continue to uphold a “two states” position? Especially as they now realise that it has the potential to make you unpopular on the kitsch left. My guess is they’ll quietly drop it very soon…

  66. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Well, they’re really concerned about the crucial question, which is apparently whether anyone on the other side had ordered a beer before the debate. You know, because that would be shocking behaviour in a central London pub.

  67. Duncan Money said,

    Well, they’re really concerned about the crucial question, which is apparently whether anyone on the other side had ordered a beer before the debate.

    There are thousands upon thousands of people in the Middle East urgently awaiting clarification on this.

  68. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Quite. And no doubt the intrepid reporters from the Weekly Worker will leave no stone unturned in seeking to offer them an answer. Heroes one and all, so they are.

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