Say it isn’t so, Jeremy …

January 18, 2016 at 3:19 pm (Champagne Charlie, labour party, reactionay "anti-imperialism", reformism, television, unions)

I didn’t see the interview JC gave on the Marr show yesterday (but I’ve found it on Youtube and posted it above). I now see that JC came out with an interesting and potentially workable “third way” on Trident, proposed penalising companies that don’t pay the living wage, and committed to repealing Tory legislation outlawing secondary strikes – excellent!

More worrying is what he had to say on foreign affairs – that a diplomatic channels should be opened with Islamic State and that they have “strong points”: as a result hashtag #ISISstrongpoints is trending at this very moment.

In the same interview JC shamefully equivocated on the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination (what Marr called a “veto”).

I know JC is routinely traduced and misrepresented in the media, by Cameron and – perhaps worst of all – by the Blairites and the old Labour right. But fucking stupid statements like these (and I’ve now watched the Youtube clip, and he did indeed, make them), really play into the hands of the Tories and the Blairites – confirming the view that JC is blind to the threat posed by, and in denial as to the nature of, Islamist fascism, and is something of an “anti-imperialist” idiot.

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Some friendly advice to Corbyn on Trident

January 16, 2016 at 11:37 pm (labour party, posted by JD, Trident)

 Steve Bell 12.01.16 Steve Bell, Guardian, 12.01.16

This was first published in the Morning Star, but despite that it makes sense:

Corbyn’s best chance to rid Britain of nuclear weapons is to bide his time

By Charley Allan

MY EARLIEST political memory is marching with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) to a US military base in Suffolk in the early 1980s. I was 10 years old, and I remember just how tired and grumpy it made me.

But I also remember my parents explaining why it really was important for us to march for miles along a dual carriageway in the middle of nowhere. I remember how horrified I was to learn that there were bombs which could wipe out whole cities, millions of people — even humanity itself.

I couldn’t believe that anyone, let alone our country’s leaders, would actually go to the time and trouble of making these weapons of mass destruction. I still can’t.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve grown up in the shadow of potential nuclear holocaust. I’m part of the Threads generation, the When The Wind Blows generation. It scared the bejeezus out of me then and it still does today.

So I’m excited that, for the first time in my life, there’s a good chance I’ll live to see these monstrosities banished from this country under a future Jeremy Corbyn premiership. I’m excited that the anti-nuke argument is being clearly articulated from the top of the Labour Party.

But I’m worried that, by rushing to change the party’s official position on Trident, Jez is walking into a Tory trap of epic proportions.

Now, I’m no professional political strategist. And it’s more than likely I can’t see plenty of the “big picture” and get a little too caught up in the mainstream media’s daily diet of socialist soap-opera shenanigans from Planet Corbyn.

But if it’s really true he wants to whip the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) against the “main gate” vote later this year, then I fear Labour is on its own path to mutually assured destruction.

First, any attempt to change policy before September’s conference will be immensely damaging.

Although there clearly need to be new decision-making structures such as party-wide referenda and other democratic tools that online offers us, these can’t be made up on the fly. They need to be introduced and debated through the usual channels, and ultimately agreed on by conference. This is far too important to screw up.

And without these new structures, there’s no credible way to reverse the party position in time.

True, the NEC could technically announce a new policy, backed up by the conclusion of the controversial defence review currently under way. But this would use up massive political capital — not to mention the fall-out from major unions sceptical of promises to retrain and retain thousands of jobs in the sector.

Second, it won’t work. The PLP, hardly the progressive tip of Labour’s spear, will use this as another opportunity to punish Jez for winning the leadership, even if he does miraculously manage to change party policy. MPs will say: “We were elected on a pro-Trident platform, and that’s the way we will vote.”

And unfortunately it’s a strong argument — even stronger than that for bombing Syria, which many MPs voted for even though it was clearly contrary to conference’s will.

And third, there’s no point. The main-gate deal, which commits the government to spending billions of pounds on a new generation of nukes, will go ahead whether Labour MPs are whipped or not. Cameron still has a slim majority, and even if a few of his MPs vote against him the handful of Corbyn’s MPs who’ll undoubtedly rebel will surely compensate.

So why choose this hill to die on? Instead, allow a free vote, let the government waste yet more of our money, and wait till victory in 2020 to scrap the lot. This gives us years to change party policy, instead of just months, and avoids a catastrophic war with both the PLP and the big unions.

Nothing’s going to change before then, anyway. If we ever want to get rid of our WMDs, we need someone like JC in Number 10, so all our efforts need to go into that.

But Trident could be to Labour what Europe is to the Tories — a single issue that tears it apart. Cameron knows this, which is why he wants the vote sooner rather than later.

So please, Jeremy, if you’re listening — think again. Let’s instead kick off a new nationwide debate on the merits of wasting billions of pounds on something we’ll hopefully never use, something that makes us less safe and further erodes our moral standing in the world.

Let’s reach beyond the middle-aged, middle-class members who already agree with you and win this argument once and for all, so the 10-year-olds of tomorrow will never have to worry about waiting for annihilation to the sound of a three-minute warning.

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Milne and Abbott hope to force a “revenge” reshuffle onto Corbyn

January 3, 2016 at 11:25 pm (Champagne Charlie, labour party, reformism, stalinism)

Press speculation that Jeremy Corbyn is planning to reshuffle his Shadow Cabinet in the first week of January originated from his Stalinist ‘Head of Communications’ Seumas Milne– who fed the press stories to the effect that Corbyn wants to assert his authority by dismissing “disloyal” shadow ministers who have defied his leadership over the vote on bombing ISIS in Syria

Milne has briefed that Corbyn has made the “seismic” decision to move shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn. Defence spokeswoman Maria Eagle, her sister Angela – the shadow First Secretary of State – and the chief whip, Rosie Winterton, are also on the brink of being demoted, according to Milne’s briefings.

Corbyn is now back after spending five days on holiday, understandably cut off from Westminster. The Labour leader ordered aides not to contact him so that he could spend time with his wife. Meanwhile, Milne went about his business.

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Lord Redken of Gobshite?

December 13, 2015 at 5:02 pm (apologists and collaborators, Asshole, labour party, Livingstone, posted by JD)

A comrade writes:

There are unconfirmed reports in the media that Ken Livingstone will be appointed to the House of Lords by Corbyn.

This might not be true but if it is its disgusting. Labour should not be appointing peers to a unelected chamber of Cronies and Feudal Relics that should be abolished.
Also Livingstone is a loathsome exponent of apparatus leftism, political bullying and opportunist accommodation to reactionary forces.

Ken Livingstone and Queen at opening of Tate Modern

1984: London’s new Mayor Ken Livingstone bows to Queen

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Corbyn, Stop The War and the Murray worry

December 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm (apologists and collaborators, ex-SWP, Jim D, labour party, Middle East, reactionay "anti-imperialism", relativism, Russia, stalinism, Stop The War, SWP, Syria, truth, Uncategorized)

Run the film to see Corbyn, Murray and the celeb wadicals at the StWC beanfeast 

Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance at lest night’s Stop The War Coalition (StWC) dinner, and his continuing refusal to sever links with – or even criticise –  the group, causes some of us who generally wish him well, a real problem.

There can be no doubt, and there hasn’t been for several years, that the StWC is not primarily anti-war per se, but opposed to Western wars, whilst remaining at best indifferent to wars and interventions by non-Western forces.

StWC’s Lindsey German complains in today’s Morning Star, that “there are accusations that we are pro-Assad, pro-Isis, don’t support the Syrians. Every war we have opposed has seen these accusations raised. We were accused of supporting the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Gadaffi in Libya and now Assad. It has never been true, and it is the weakest of arguments for those supporting war that their opponents of necessity support the other side.”

Now, of course, German is right that opposing a war being waged by your own ruling class does not of necessity involve supporting the other side: but German is lying when she denies that StWC does just that. She’s lying because she, like most of the rest of the StWC leadership subscribe to a crude version of Lenin’s strategy of revolutionary defeatism, which in their hands amounts to little more than “the main enemy is (always) at home”, or indeed,  “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

German and her partner John Rees know this (and lie about it) because they were in the leadership of the SWP in 2001 and were responsible for Socialist Worker‘s gloating response, to 9/11 and for the SWP’s “line” of refusing to condemn the atrocities. It is a methodology that has informed the approach of the StWC ever since, even if the likes of German, Rees and Murray lie about it and/or resort to evasion. Surprise, surprise: a lot of the more ‘interesting’ articles (including anti-Semitic stuff) have mysteriously disappeared from StWC’s website over the last few days: fortunately, a public-spirited citizen has made sure that they’re preserved for posterity.

 

Embedded image permalink

Above: the Murray worry

A classic example of such dishonest evasion can be found in StWC Chair Andrew Murray’s answers to John Harris’s uncharacteristically probing questions, published in today’s Guardian – for instance:

“I suggest that the Assad regime has to go, and ask Murray if he agrees. But he doesn’t directly answer the question. We bat the point around for a few minutes, before we arrive at the reason why: as a staunch anti-imperialist, he says it’s not his place to call for the toppling of regimes overseas: a strange position for an avowed internationalist, perhaps, but there we are.”

The fact that Andrew Murray is StWC chair, and a  Communist Party of Britain (CPB) member raises some further interesting questions about the underlying politics of the StWC.

On the 19th of October Murray expressed this judgement:

The only solution to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria is a negotiated diplomatic end, says Andrew Murray.

The clear need is not for Britain to jump further into this toxic mix. It is for a negotiated diplomatic end to the dreadful civil war which has laid waste to Syria. Ultimately, only the Syrian people can determine their own future political arrangements.

But the foreign powers could assist by all ending their military interventions, open and clandestine, in Syria – ending the bombing and the arming of one side or another.

They should further promote peace by abandoning all the preconditions laid down for negotiations. Such preconditions only serve to prolong the conflict and to give either government or opposition hope that foreign military and diplomatic support could somehow lead to all-out victory.

On the CPB’s site he has added this, (no date),

Our bipartisan armchair strategists are obviously riled by Russia’s escalating military involvement in Syria.  But it is a fact.  What form of military intervention could now be undertaken which would not lead to a clash with Russia they do not say.  Even the head of MI6 has acknowledged that “no-fly zones” are no longer a possibility, unless the NATO powers are prepared to countenance conflict with Moscow.

This is the CPB’s view, expressed on the 14th of October.

In a statement today Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths said:

The Communist Party maintains its opposition to US, NATO and British military intervention in Syria. Whatever the pretext – whether to defeat the barbaric ISIS or to rescue civilian populations – the real aim is clear: to strengthen the anti-Assad terrorist forces (Islamic fundamentalists who have largely displaced the Free Syrian Army ‘moderate opposition’), create areas in which these forces can operate freely (in the guise of ‘no-fly zones’ and ‘safe havens’) and ultimately to partition Syria and replace the Assad regime with a compliant puppet one.

Russian military forces are now attacking all the anti-Assad terrorists, including Isis, at the invitation of the Damascus government – which has every right to issue such an invitation as the internationally recognised political authority in Syria.

  • Is Andrew Murray saying that his comrades in the CPB should change their ‘line’ that Russia has “every right” to bomb in Syria?
  • Does he genuinely support, against the policy of the party to which he belongs, the formal, avowed (if generally disregarded) policy of the StWC?

The fact that Murray, and the StWC as a whole, apparently feels no need to address that question, let alone answer it, is further proof of what a dishonest, hypocritical and politically bankrupt organisation it is. They seem to have a fig leaf, formal, position of opposing Russian bombing in Syria that can be called upon when they’re under pressure in the media, whist in reality doing nothing about it and appointing as their chair someone who, as far as can be judged, supports both the Assad regime and the Russian bombing campaign.

The difficulty those of us who understand this, but are generally in the Corbyn camp, have, is how to make this point whilst not lining up with the right wing who just want to use this as part of their campaign to undermine and eventually remove Corbyn. Not an easy balancing act to maintain, but an essential one.


Above: James Bloodworth exposes the lies and evasions of StWC’s hapless Chris Nineham

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Militant Tendency and The Socialist Party: first as tragedy, now as farce.

December 10, 2015 at 6:32 pm (comedy, fantasy, Jim D, labour party, political groups, reformism, Socialist Party, television)

Whatever one thought of them, the Militant Tendency was a serious force within the Britsh labour movement (including the Labour Party) in the 1970s and ’80s. Since leaving the Labour Party in 1991 their influence has waned dramatically and efforts to stand candidates in elections (as TUSC and No2EU) have resulted in derisory votes.

Now, after years of declaring the Labour Party a dead end and a waste of time, the SP finds itself completely nonplussed by the election of Jeremy Corbyn. Here (on last night’s Channel 4 News) Michael Crick interviews the SP’s National Organiser Sarah Sachs-Eldridge about their call to “deselect” Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy whilst not being members of the Labour Party. Crick can scarcely keep a straight face:

NB: The SP’s website describes Crick as an “arch witch-hunter” but as they’re outside the Labour Party it’s difficult to see how this amounts to a “witch-hunt” in any meaningful way.

H/t Alex Dawson

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Lies, distortions and misconceptions about Momentum and the lobbying of MPs

December 5, 2015 at 11:36 am (labour party, mccarthyism, MPs, posted by JD, protest, reblogged, red-baiting, truth)

Jon Lansman, one of the founders of Momentum, responds to allegations of bullying of MPs (from Left Futures):

walthamstow

Following the Syria debate on Wednesday and the prior lobbying and demonstrations, media descriptions of the abuse and bullying tactics directed at MPs reached a crescendo. Thursday’s Daily Mail, for example, under a double-page headline “hard-left hate mob target MPs“, carried a picture purporting to show them outside the home of Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow with the caption “Menacing: protesters against air-strikes marching last night outside the home of pro-war MP“. The Daily Mirror reported that “Hundreds, including vicars and imams, marched on Stella Creasy’s  constituency base“. As the Guardian reported this morning, many other media outlets not to mention social media ran with the story.

It is perhaps not surprising in this context that on the BBC Today programme Friday morning, Tom Watson warned that any Labour members who joined an anti-war protest outside the home of the Labour MP Stella Creasy should be thrown out of the party. Except that there was no protest outside her home. Stella Creasy confirmed that the protest had not gone past her home at all.

Tom Watson’s comments were reasonably measured (“They look like a bit of a rabble to me but I don’t think they are particularly a problem for the Labour party”) but his comments unwittingly contributed to the false image which is being created of Momentum. Sue Wheat in Red Pepper describes the truth which, with their permission I quote almost in its entirety:

I just want to set the record straight for anyone reading or listening to the news about Walthamstow and Stella Creasy, which as far as I can tell is totally untrue.

On Tuesday a local resident Sophie Bolt and Rev Steven Saxby organised a family vigil, which myself and others helped to publicise quickly on social media. No one asked me to do it, I just did it.

It was a beautiful, calm meet-up of for anyone who wanted to show our MP Stella Creasy that we wanted her to vote NO on air strikes in Syria. We met at the Queen’s Road mosque with candles in jam jars and walked quietly to Stella’s Labour office on Orford Road, where there were speeches by religious and community leaders.

It was a beautiful, community, inspiring family event of people trying to make their voices heard against the airstrikes and trying to influence Stella, even though we knew she was in Westminster.

We took post-it notes and thought it would be powerful to write messages of peace and stick them on the office window. It looked beautiful and powerful.

The next day we realised someone had put up a Facebook post with a picture of the start of the vigil, which was outside the mosque. You can see the mosque on the right if you zoom in, but mostly it’s just the houses next to it. He claimed we were outside Stella’s house and said something incendiary about her not having children to worry about. (His exact post was: ‘outside [her] house… apparently she has still to make up her mind – and she has no children to upset’.) He managed to get some police in the pic which made it look like a demo and it was dark and blurry. In fact the very low police presence were very helpful and friendly throughout.

Then we went to her office about half a mile away. There were about 200 people including children and various community and religious leaders spoke – it was a very inspiring peace rally. The police were laid-back and friendly there was no intrusive police presence.

Now for the most worrying thing: the picture and Facebook post was found by the Independent newspaper and used in an article. This started off a mass media misinformation story about constituents bullying Stella. It was then picked up by LBC radio, the Standard and many other media and went viral on social media. I tried to counteract lots of it, especially with journalists following up the story.

When I realised that the Independent had used his picture and post to create their story stating Stella was targeted I contacted the journalist but she wouldn’t retract it. Then it went all over the world. I was sobbing with frustration.

Another local resident, a local vicar and Labour member, Rev Steven Saxby, one of the organisers of the vigil, added:

At the same time as I condemn intimidation of MPs or their staff, I reiterate that the vigil was not intimidation, and condemn those who seek to portray democratic, peaceful actions as such. This is also is a form of intimidation. For my part, I shall not be intimidated into not speaking on issues about which I am passionate and alongside others within and beyond the Labour Party.

I refute the erroneous allegations about me and about our peaceful vigil, and look forward to continuing to support Stella Creasy as MP for Walthamstow, and the campaigns to elect Sadiq Khan as mayor and Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.”

There are many factors that appear to have contributed to distorted coverage, misrepresentation and downright lies including:

  • agents provocateurs on social media, hiding behind fake identities, who may be Tories or perhaps even Labour members engaged in ‘black ops’;
  • hostile or opportunistic members of other parties like Linda Taafe of the Socialist Party who stood against Stella Creasy in May (winning 394 votes for TUSC, good for them but, at less than 1%, an utterly pathetic vote for anyone who lives in the real world) but goes on BBC Daily Politics to demand her deselection;
  • exaggerated claims by hard right Labour MPs determined to discredit Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn.

However, there undoubtedly are also some people, probably a small number, who think of themselves as being supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and against war in Syria who are guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards MPs – using inappropriate language or photos, abuse, intimidation and even bullying. Many will not be members of Momentum or the Labour Party, but some are which is why Momentum has issued the following statement.

Momentum is disappointed that Parliament voted for Syrian airstrikes. We do not believe that David Cameron made the case that bombs will defeat Daesh or improve the lives and security of Syrians, the UK or our allies, and we fear that they may have the opposite effect.

Nevertheless, we are pleased that the majority of Labour MPs and the shadow cabinet did oppose David Cameron’s proposal, reflecting the policy of the party conference and the wishes of its members, whilst also respecting the right of all MPs to vote as they have done.

Members of the Labour Party and the public have a right to be heard. Momentum is proud that we assisted over 30,000 people email their MP asking them not to vote for bombing. We believe these messages from the public helped convince some of the 153 Labour and 72 non-Labour MPs who voted against bombing to do so. It can never be a threat to express your views to your elected representative

Momentum strongly disapproves of anyone who engages in abusive behaviour towards MPs or anyone else, and threatening or bullying, whether they are outside the Labour Party (as most are) or inside it. We specifically asked our supporters to emulate Jeremy Corbyn, and to keep their messages about the issues and to refrain from any personal attacks.

Nor is Momentum a threat to MPs who voted for bombing. We have made clear that we will not campaign for or support the deselection of any MP and will not permit any local Momentum groups to do so. The selection of candidates is entirely a matter for local party members and rightly so

 

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Stop The War cannot tell the difference between fascism and anti-fascism

December 4, 2015 at 9:22 pm (apologists and collaborators, fascism, Jim D, labour party, Middle East, Stop The War, Unite the union, wankers)

Corbyn must now break all links with this scum

James Bloodworth's photo.
 

The rotten, foul-smelling half-alive corpse that is the Stop The War Coalition, has finally crossed the line: these scum cannot tell the difference between fascism and anti-fascism. They’ve just put up on their website, an article by one Matt Carr, that includes the following:

“Benn does not even seem to realize that the jihadist movement that ultimately spawned Daesh is far closer to the spirit  of internationalism and solidarity that drove the International Brigades than Cameron’s bombing campaign – except that the international jihad takes the form of solidarity with oppressed Muslims, rather than the working class or the socialist revolution.”

How much lower can this filthy organisation sink? Its time for those unions (like Unite) who finance this organisation to withdraw all financial and political support. And Jeremy Corbyn should now break all links with this scum.

 

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Why Benn’s speech carried weight against the pacifism and hypocrisy of much of the left

December 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm (anti-fascism, internationalism, labour party, reformism, terror, war)

By Johnny Lewis

I think the reason Hilary Benn’s speech was so effective is not because he had anything to say to respond to Corbyn’s position put forward earlier that day,  but because he correctly identified Corbyn’s and much of the entire left’s political weakness over the last 25 years:

– its softness or even support (ie SWP, Counterfire, etc) for fascism and medievalist reaction as long as it comes in some anti western form.
– that even after the fall of the Soviet Union the same old apologist shit still remains strong on the left and particularly the Labour left and the people around the Morning Star: they’re against human rights abuses and “imperialism” except when it’s by Russia and its allies,  in which case they use all sorts of relativist arguments to support/excuse it.
– that via Stop The War’s popular front with the right, the left has adopted the old right’s isolationism: the idea that it has “nothing to do with us”.
– the much older Labour Pacifist tradition that Corbyn is steeped in. Despite some notable personal bravery in World War One and in the fight against nuclear weapons, this tradition rejects class struggle or anti-fascist struggle, in favour of impotent, pacifist saintliness.

So this meant even when Corbyn was making the better internationalist arguments against this specific bombing campaign, people knew his and the Stop The War/SWP (etc) left’s record with regard to groups like Daesh is poor.

We should be plain with people on the left that this debate should have been won. The right could play on peoples desire to do something to oppose Daesh and the better suggestions of the left to do this (support / arm the Kurds, end Assad’s bombing, stop the alliances with Turkey and Saudi) were not credible given the left’s history and the nature of some of our ‘comrades’ on the left opposition to bombing.

See also: Comrade Coatsey on the same subject, here

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AWL statement: US-UK bombing won’t stop Daesh!

December 2, 2015 at 4:24 pm (AWL, fascism, internationalism, islamism, Kurds, labour party, Middle East, posted by JD, Stop The War, terror, war)

Logo of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty

Statement issued today by the Alliance for Workers Liberty:

The House of Commons will shortly vote on proposals to extend UK air strikes to Syria. As Jeremy Corbyn has given Labour MPs a free vote, Cameron is likely to have a majority for extending the bombing.

The government says the renewed military campaign, now including UK, US, France, Turkey and the Gulf States, will be aimed at pushing back Daesh (Islamic State). But it is unlikely to make a decisive impact on Daesh’s position. It is more likely to perpetuate the current stalemate between all the military-political forces in Syria. That is, in fact, the preferred option of the military-political alliance the UK is joining. They want containment of the conflict until a deal on the future of Syria can be agreed.

At the very best the bombing may push back Daesh… in favour of some other Sunni-sectarian Islamist militia. 14 years of US bombing in Afghanistan have left the Taliban and jihadi-terrorism more widely stronger, not weaker, than at the end of 2001.

Cameron’s stance is political, not humanitarian. This is not an attempt to secure security for the ordinary people affected by Daesh’s recent atrocities in Paris or Beirut or over Sinai. It will not create peace in Syria or stem to the flow of refugees fleeing that country. There is no plan to destroy Daesh or end the Syrian civil war.

Cameron wants to look like a statesman in the eyes of the UK’s allies, and have a seat in US world-policy circles.

Meanwhile the Russian state continues to pursue its own political aims, bombing targets in Syria that are of most threat to the Assad regime. That regime has killed and displaced more people in Syria than any other single force fighting there. The primary target of Russian bombing is groups under the “Free Syrian Army”, the same forces which the US, France et al now refer to.

David Cameron claims there are 70,000 FSA fighters in Syria ready to be mobilised in a fight against Daesh. In fact the FSA is only an umbrella term for various forms of political Islamist, from relatively moderate to more hard line. Their main concern is to fight Assad, not Daesh. They are often intensely Sunni-sectarian. They offer no hope of a progressive outcome. Socialists cannot support them and, in fact, the US and UK and France have no plans to endorse them either.

Corbyn’s decision to allow Labour MPs to have a free vote is a big political mistake and will neither heal the deep divisions in the Parliamentary Labour Party nor close the gulf between Labour members, who are mostly against bombing in Syria, and the PLP. In fact it will galvanise Corbyn’s enemies.

We support Jeremy Corbyn and others in the Labour Party and labour movement in their opposition to the bombing and regret they haven’t been strong enough to make the Labour MPs stick by the Labour conference decision against bombing.

In doing so we in no way follow the pro-Assad and phoney anti-imperialist line of the Stop the War Coalition, who have continually refused to condemn the murderous regime of Assad. That regime has killed and displaced millions of people within Syria and caused millions more to flee the country. Our opposition to Western bombing endorses neither Assad nor his allies in Lebanon, Russia and Iran.

The Syrian Solidarity Campaign has rightly criticised the Stop the War Coalition saying, “If Stop the War’s slogan ‘Don’t bomb Syria’ is to have any meaning, let them demand the end of the regime whose bombs have killed so many.

“If Stop the War oppose imperialism let them demonstrate their sincerity outside the Russian Embassy. Let them demonstrate with placards calling for Russia to stop bombing Syrian hospitals.”

Unfortunately the SSC downplay the number of people killed by Daesh and other Islamist forces. Mass graves have been found in the wake of Daesh. They may not have killed hundreds of thousands, as Assad has, but they have butchered many more than we yet know about.

We reject the notion that Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in France or against Russia, are “blowback” against military action.

Daesh’s actions are not rooted in a knee-jerk response to western imperialism. Daesh has its own interpretation of and programme for the world. It is a far right political-religious movement, and we are fundamentally opposed to it, just as we are to every other far right and fascistic movement. It is in fact Eurocentric to characterise the actions of Daesh in Paris, Beirut and Sinai as just reactions to the foreign policy of the European powers or the USA.

We do not oppose the bombing of Syria because it will make people in “Britain less safe” (i.e. “provoke” Daesh into further atrocities as many on the left we argue), but because the bombing is fundamentally not aimed towards an end to the ongoing and vicious sectarian conflict, and will not bring that end closer. It will serve only to keep the UK, France, and the USA “in the game” — a bloody and reactionary game.

Solidarity with the Kurds!

After the Gulf states, the US and UK’s strongest ally in the region is Turkey.

Turkey has the deepest involvement with some of the anti-Assad forces, including the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and Daesh itself. Much of Daesh’s oil is transported out of Syria via Turkey.

Turkey is also engaged in fighting the force most able to push back Daesh and Assad in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria — the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). These Kurdish forces represent a predominantly secular and largely non-sectarian force in the bloodbath of Syria.

While the Kurds have come under sustained attack from Daesh, Turkey has intervened directly against the Kurds, including attacking YPG supporters and affiliates in Northern Iraq, closing the border to Kurds wishing to join the fighting, repressing Kurdish activists within Turkey.

The UK government’s response to Turkey, its NATO ally, has been to tolerate repression.
The FSA has also taken an Arab chauvinist position against the Kurds, for example excluding them from negotiation.

While not endorsing the politics of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK, the group behind the YPG), we unequivocally back the right of the Kurds to military aid and assistance including their demand for arms.

• They should be able to accept military aid from wherever it can be obtained in order to secure their fight against Daesh, Assad and where necessary the Turkish state.

• The PKK should be removed from the EU and US lists of terrorist organisations.

• If the Kurds demand a “no-fly”, or more accurately a “no-bombing” zone, in order to improve their military position, — an option which is unlikely to be included in the current plans of major imperialist powers, as long as Turkey is hostile to the Kurds — we should not oppose this as we would big-power bombing.

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