Seumas Milne: support Assad to help Iran

February 8, 2012 at 10:09 pm (apologists and collaborators, Guardian, Human rights, Jim D, liberation, revolution, stalinism, Syria, terror, twat)

As Bashar al-Assad steps up his murderous assault upon the population of Homs, the Guardian‘s tame Stalinist Seumas Milne attempts a defence of Russia’s and China’s veto of the Arab League-backed resolution at the UN. It’s a shoddy, despicable piece of mendacity even by Posh Boy Milne’s debased ‘standards.’ Like the good Stalinist he his, Milne wriggles, obfuscates and sets up a whole regiment of straw men (notably that the the resolution “paved the way” for foreign intervention), before getting to his real point: “It’s been widely claimed that the double veto has given Assad the green light to intensify repression and made a full-scale civil war more likely. But by ruling out UN-backed intervention, it could just as well be argued that it puts pressaure on the main opposition group, the western-backed Syrian National Council, to negotiate – given that its whole strategy has been based on creating the conditions for a Libyan-style no-fly zone.”

It’s worth spending a moment ‘unpackaging’ (as the semiotics people say) that sentence:

1/ Even if it’s true that the veto might encourage the rebels to “negotiate,” as Milne claims, how does that make it not true (as that asshole Milne seems to suggest) that it has also “given Assad the green light to intensify repression”? As one of CIF readers, commenting below the article bluntly observes, “I’m sure the people who are being mortared as I type these words agree with you Seumas.”

2/ What’s all this about a “UN-backed intervention”? No one, but no one, seriously thought that was going to happen and the resolution explicitly ruled it out. Even the Graun‘s “foreign leader writer” David Hearst (generally on the same wavelength as Poshboy) described it as “an intervention the west was never going to make.”

3/ Note the description of the Syrian National Council as “western-backed“: Seumas-speak for ‘stooges who cannot be supported,’ a dog-whistle tip-off to fellow-Stalinists and useful idiots,  and a scandalous slur upon the brave fighters of the Syrian opposition.

4/ “It puts pressure on the main opposition group…to negotiate.” What Milne really means is it puts pressure on the whole opposition to surrender and throw themselves upon the tender mercies of the regime.

Milne and his fellow tyrant-lovers, of course, used the self-same “arguments” against the Libyan opposition. Then as now, these “arguments” amounted, in reality, to support for the regime.

This contempible apologia continues, touching upon all the usual tropes of Stalinist “whataboutery”: Iraq, Afghanistan, the west’s support for the Bahrain dictatorship, Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights…as though any of that has any relevance to the present massacre taking place in Homs, or somehow justifies support for the regime.

But, in an uncharacteristic moment of honesty, Milne finally lets the cat out of the bag and explains the real reason behind his stance. He doesn’t, of course, give a damn about the people of Syria, or the rights and wrongs of the rebellion. He has bigger fish to fry: the geo-political balance of power in the region and the threat to the Iranian leadership – a regime with which  Mr Milne clearly feels some affinity:

“The overthrow of the Syrian regime would be a serious blow to Iran’s influence in the Middle East. And as the conflict in Syria has escalated, so has the western-Israeli confrontation with Iran. Even as US defence secretary Leon Panetta and national intelligence director James Clapper acknowledged that Iran isn’t after all “trying to build a nuclear weapon”, Panetta has let it be known there is a “strong likelihood” Israel will attack Iran as early as April, while Iran faces crippling EU oil sanctions over its nuclear programme.

“Western intervention in Syria – and Russia and China’s opposition to it – can only be understood in that context: as part of a proxy war against Iran, which disastrously threatens to become a direct one.” (NB: check out the links helpfully provided by the Graun, to see that James Clapper actually expressed more or less the opposite views to those attributed to him by Milne).

But, for once, a Stalinist (and for all practical purposes that designation also applies to the degenerate ex-SWP’ers who run the Stop The War Coalition) has made his position clear: the struggles of the masses fighting to cast off oppression must take (at best) second place to the balance of power between states. And any state that opposes the west has to be supported – even when it’s massacring its own people.

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I Fisk You a Merry Christmas

December 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm (Asshole, crap, Galloway, hitchens, Rosie B, twat, wankers)

This is fisking for dummies, but it’s Christmas after all:-

Let’s just hope God is merciful, Chris
By George Galloway

WELL, he kens noo. I hope that the deceased, unbelieving English man of letters Christopher Hitchens has discovered that God is not only great but merciful too.

[Now, when Christians say that kind of thing in pious tones, you know they are lying.   May all my enemies go to hell, Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel]

I had taken a self-denying ordinance over his demise at the weekend from osophageal cancer on the grounds that one should not speak ill of the recently dead and there would be nothing good to say about him considering the circumstances.

Two things forced me to shorten my purdah. The first was the way in which almost every one of the eulogies and profiles, in which I had declined to be represented on grounds of taste, nonetheless managed to attack me in the process of praising him.

[Oooh George – I’ve read loads of these, and y’know, you’re not mentioned THAT much.  The American ones don’t mention you at all.  But of course if your google alert says “George Galloway” – and I’m sure it does, not out of mere vanity though yours should never be underestimated, but for litigation opportunities – that’s how it must seem to you.]

The second was the sight of his friend Tony Blair, his voice catching with emotion in the “death of Diana way”, telling us what a great man he was.

This canonisation of the departed by some of the worst hypocrites operating in the English language must be halted before it slithers any further.

[Weel, I’d be very careful of the “h” word if I were you.]

Hitchens was the only-known case of a butterfly changing back into a slug.

He wrote like an angel but placed himself in the service of the devils.

He was a drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay, the Englishman in New York who discovered there were large bundles of right-wing dollars available for apostates like him. If they were prepared to betray their friends, their principles and sell the soul he didn’t believe he had in the first place.

[And I’m sure your work for Iran’s Press TV is done for a small pittance, barely enough to keep you in cigars.  Also the “popinjay” – which one is the dapper little chap and which one the untidy handsome guy out of you two?  And though it’s the season for recycling, couldn’t you have at least come up with some new insults?]

Easy. As Groucho Marx once put it: “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”

Thus, the man who once praised Saddam Hussein in adoration and opposed the first Gulf War when the Iraqi tyrant was still occupying Kuwait, was transformed into the main literary cheerleader for the second war.

[Ah, well you would know about “adoration” of Saddam Hussein, not to mention his rapist offspring.]

And he was still blowing the weapons of mass destruction trumpet long after its tinny notes were discredited.

The man who once championed the Palestinian cause became a little echo for Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing the 10 Turkish dead on the ship Mavi Marmara as “Hamas-sympathisers” who got what they asked for.

[Do you mean that they DIDN’T sympathise with Hamas?  I’m shocked.  And – get your little head around this – it’s possible to champion the Palestinian cause and not become a pimp for what Hitchens would call “gaunt fascists with an Islamic face”.]

Sure his ditties were witty, his parsing precise and, if you like your men drunk, slurred and slobbering, he could be charming no doubt.

[You really know you were outclassed on all fronts – “ditties were witty”, “parsing precise” – is that your way of showing you can do that writing thing as well?]

But when you’re slobbering in support of the re-election of George W Bush for his catastrophic second term, or backing Bush’s handling of the clean-up operation after Hurricane Katrina (where he was the only man in the country other than Bush who thought the Federal Emergency Agency was doing a “heck of a job”) and you have written the script for the most disastrous massacre since Vietnam, I’m afraid literary pretence must be put in its proper place. Down the lavatory.

Hitchens and I shared the ring in an epic “Grapple in the Apple” back in 2005 in Manhattan.

Thousands of people queued around the block for ringside seats paying top dollar for the privilege. You can watch it on YouTube or wait for the DVD, with commentary and my updates, which I will produce shortly.

[My dear, plug your work in the visual media as you will, your most popular appearance on YouTube will continue to be pretending to be a cat in a red leotard.]

Ultimately, the real reason for the ­tear-stained eulogies from the British media commentariat for the late Mr Hitchens is that, by and large, the writers and editors are weeping for themselves.

They share his guilt over the Iraq War and deep inside they know it.

But all the salty tears in the world will not out that damned spot. The next reason is class.

Hitchens was a toff, a Lord. And the English-speaking world, it seems, still likes to love a Lord.

[Admiration undeservedly won, nothing to do with talent of course.  And congratulations for the best example of resentful envy and self-promotion ineptly disguising itself as principled opposition I’ve seen in a long while.]

Above: lest we forget: Galloway is, and always has been, a liar, pro-fascist appeaser and enthusiastic sucker of “strong-men”‘s cocks (writes  Jim Denham).

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Gaddafi “is stronger than ever” (Seymour, 29 July)

August 24, 2011 at 12:36 am (apologists and collaborators, Guardian, Jim D, Libya, SWP, twat)

Richard Seymour

Lest we forget #3: Richard Seymour of Lenin’s Tomb, part of the Guardian Comment Network (below):

**********************************************************************************************************

guardian.co.uk,             Friday 29 July 2011 09.35 BST

Gaddafi is stronger than ever in Libya

The fact Gaddafi has survived the rebellions and Nato bombing undermines the simplistic view of a hated tyrant clinging on

    • Libya demonstration
Above: Supporters of Muammar Gaddafi participate in a demonstration in Tripoli, Libya, 28 July 2011.

The war on Libya has not gone well. Kim Sengupta’s report on Wednesday detailed this starkly:

“Fresh diplomatic efforts are under way to try to end Libya’s bloody civil war, with the UN special envoy flying to Tripoli to hold talks after Britain followed France in accepting that Muammar Gaddafi cannot be bombed into exile.

The change of stance by the two most active countries in the international coalition is an acceptance of realities on the ground. Despite more than four months of sustained air strikes by Nato, the rebels have failed to secure any military advantage. Colonel Gaddafi has survived what observers perceive as attempts to eliminate him and, despite the defection of a number of senior commanders, there is no sign that he will be dethroned in a palace coup.

The regime controls around 20% more territory than it did in the immediate aftermath of the uprising on 17 February.”

If the Gaddafi regime is now more in control of Libya than before, then this completely undermines the simplistic view put about by the supporters of war – and unfortunately by some elements of the resistance – that the situation was simply one of a hated tyrant hanging on through mercenary violence. Of course, he uses whatever resources he has at his disposal, but a) it would seem that the involvement of imperialism has driven some Libyans back into the Gaddafi camp, as it’s unlikely he would maintain control without some degree of support, and b) we know that rebellious sectors started to go back to Gaddafi within mere weeks of the revolt taking off, meaning in part that his resources of legitimising his regime were not exhausted even before the US-led intervention. Despite the defections, he has consolidated his regime in a way that would have seemed improbable in the early weeks of revolt…

******************************************************************************************************

Read the rest of this SWP ‘intellectual”s brilliant analysis, as published on the Graun‘s CIF site,  here

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What a load of pretentious pseudo-academic bullshit…

July 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm (bloggocks, Champagne Charlie, comedy, crap, SWP, twat)

…from that waste of space Lennie “Seymour” Tombstone.

“The thrust of this article, focusing on the UK, will be that the  Right has so far had the initiative because it has successfully piloted a  series of ideological articulations that speak to a certain neoliberal  ”common sense” and thus plausibly explain and offer solutions to the  crisis.  These articulations mediate between popular discontent  (manifested in loathing of the bankers, distrust of the parliamentary  process, and fear of penury) and ruling class imperatives.  This  strategy is obviously not limited to the Right: the Democrats in the US  and social democratic parties in Europe perform a classically  ”transformist” role, absorbing the elements of dissatisfaction among  subaltern groups, expunging their oppositional content, and  incorporating them into a politics of the pro-capitalist centre.   Nonetheless, it is the Right that has played the dominant role in  securing the ”austerity” narrative, tailed by the center and  center-left.  This shouldn’t be surprising.  In organic crises, the  forces best equipped to adapt and re-deploy are those of the ruling  class and its allied parties.

“For the Left to win, it needs to find adequate modes of political  organization and an appropriate series of ideological mediations that  explain the crisis, mobilize points of discontent and maintain the unity  of the anti-austerity alliance.  This should not be seen as opposed to  ”industrial” struggles; rather, it will have a formative, organizing  role in the economic class struggle, ensuring that localized conflicts  are generalized (rather than isolated in a way that allows them to be  picked off one by one by the ruling class), and giving the working class  a chance to move into a ”hegemonic” moment in which it both leads and  incorporates the interests and perspectives of allied groups.  In none  of the advanced capitalist states are revolutionary groups currently in a  position to challenge for leadership of the working class – far from it  – but they should be ready to take the initiative in alliance with  sections of the social democratic left, as well as the  left-of-social-democratic left…”

There was a time when SWP’ers thought it important to relate to the working class. No longer, it would seem…

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Giles Fraser is an idiot (part 2)

June 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm (atheism, Christianity, Guardian, humanism, Jim D, Marxism, philosophy, religion, science, twat)

…or shyster.

This is not the first time that Canon Fraser has come out with a load of  pretentious “philosophical” garbage in the Graun; happily this time Prof Norm has taken this charlatan to task:

Norm says:

I don’t call myself a ‘new’ atheist; I’m just an atheist. However, I won’t let that prevent me responding to what Giles Fraser says about new atheists who ‘simply duck the challenge made by atheistic anti-humanism’. Being a humanist as well as an atheist, I was interested to see what this challenge is, so I read on and, my goodness, what a feeble challenge it turns out to be. It amounts only to two things: (1) putting in question an outlook inherited from the Enlightenment that, despite ‘the horrors of the first world war and the Nazi death camps’, persists with an ‘optimism about human nature and strong belief in the power of human reason and the inevitability of progress’; and (2) the following notions critical of humanism that Fraser takes from Louis Althusser:

There is no such thing as intrinsic humanity, we are all the product of external forces. Everything that cannot be analysed structurally is false consciousness. Humanism itself is false consciousness.

The only part of (1) that a humanist need sign up to is some belief in the power of human reason. It doesn’t have to be an exorbitant belief, such that reason is thought to be all powerful, but humanists think that there are human universals, there’s good evidence that the power of reason is one of these, and there’s much to be said, morally, for using reason to try to make the world a better place. That’s it. No humanist is obliged to be uniformly optimistic about human nature. This plainly has both good and bad sides, and while we should do everything we can to bring out the good and restrain the bad, a humanist would have to be a fool to let his or her humanism obscure the facts – so many and large are they – about the human capacity for doing serious wrong. Equally, humanists today can be cleverer than to believe in the inevitability of progress; we can just believe in the possibility of it, a possibility there are already grounds for thinking is not altogether utopian.

As for (2) the conjoint proposition ‘There is no such thing as intrinsic humanity, we are all the product of external forces’ is false. It is the result of taking the truth that we are all partly the product of external forces and turning it into the absurd claim that we are altogether the product of such forces; because only if we are that is it possible to maintain, against so much that is so obvious, that there’s no intrinsic humanity.

Three simple ways of seeing that this is false are the following. (a) Consider that, however hard you try, you won’t be able to get a collection of tomatoes to form a parliament, or find from amongst a population of bees a writer to emulate either Charles or Monica Dickens, or one to write essays on any topic whatsoever. (b) A human being forced to live on a diet exclusively of steel nails and blotting paper will die. (c) Given the choice between having a chat with friends and jumping into a blazing furnace, nearly all people in all cultures and at all times will choose the former. From (a) we learn that there are universal human abilities that distinguish us from other species. From (b) we learn that there are general human needs which must be met for survival. And from (c) we learn that there are all but universal human aversions.

These facts are so well known that only people in philosophical mood ever pretend or affect to deny them. But there is, thank goodness, better philosophy than the one governing that kind of mood. If Fraser’s account of the anti-humanist challenge is any guide, the latter should trouble no kind of atheist – or indeed non-atheist.

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Charlie Brooker on Clegg: “sad-eyed defender of the new reality”

May 11, 2011 at 1:18 am (comedy, Guardian, Jim D, Lib Dems, Tory scum, twat, wankers)

Cleggsy Bear shuffles on stage to say each unpleasant new announcement was the fairest decision taken in our lifetimes…

Pudsey Bear and Nick CleggAbove: Spot the difference . . . Pudsey Bear and Nick Clegg. Photograph: Rex Features/EPA

In these uncertain, unsettling times, with unpopular policies being implemented by a patchwork coalition of the damned, Nick Clegg is proving to be perhaps the most useful tool in the government’s shed. Not because he says or does anything particularly inspiring, but because he functions as a universal disappointment sponge for disenchanted voters. You stare at Nick Clegg and feel infinitely unhappy, scarcely noticing Cameron and co hiding behind him.

Governments around the world must be studying the coalition and working out how to get their own Clegg. He’s the coalition’s very own Pudsey Bear: a cuddly-but-tragic mascot representing the acceptable face of abuse. But unlike Pudsey, he actually speaks. Immediately following each unpleasant new announcement, Cleggsy Bear shuffles on stage to defend it, working his sad eyes and boyish face as he morosely explains why the decision was inevitable – and not just inevitable, but fair; in fact possibly the fairest, most reasonable decision to have been taken in our lifetimes, no matter how loudly people scream to the contrary.

Read the rest here

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The sub-Stalinist cult of Bob Crow (a total cult himself)

March 14, 2011 at 1:08 am (cults, Jim D, stalinism, twat, unions)

Crow’s a posturing twat, anyway…

Bob Crow's right-hand man hit Tube strike breaker on picket line My phone was hacked, says Tube union chief Bob Crow Fat-cat bashing Bob Crow’s £10,000 pay rise from RMT Union boss Bob Crow accused of ‘diabolical’ abuse at football match

Above: portraits of a fake-left twat

Dave K writes:

Hi
 
At the Sheffield Demo yesterday the RMT contingent where carrying a banner with a huge picture of Bob Crow on it, with the slogan- Bobs right Bollocks to the Cuts. I attached a picture of a T-Shirt with the same image. This isnt the first time I have come across the Bob Crow cult. At Vestas we had that stuff about hiring a helicopter and I heard a RMT official telling the workers that ordinary members can ring up Bob anytime of the day or night on his mobile and he will deal with their issues.  
 
I dont know whether this official RMT merchandising or one particular star struck branch. But I think as a group whose inflence in the RMT is strong need to be clear how Bob’s cult of personality is destructive to a rank and file movement in the RMT. It also isnt helpful when workers see the answer to their unions problems is to elect a Bob Crow type demagoge. We want accountable trade union leaders willing to organise and lead there members, not all powerful barons who see the fight against the governement as a personal war and the members as there willing battalions.
 
Otherwise where will we end up next- Icons of Sewotka on demonstrations? A maoist Marx/Engels/Lenin/Stalin/Mao style banner with past leaders of the T&G/Unite (with Jack Jones as Lenin)? 
 
Dave

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Gaddafi’s LSE friends: Davies is gone but what can Giddens resign from?

March 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm (Education, Human rights, intellectuals, Jim D, Middle East, Tony Blair, twat)

Not just David Held and Howard Davies cuddled up to the Gaddafi regime. Anthony Giddens, former LSE Director and advisor to Tony Blair, also publicly defended the Libyan dictator back in 2007.

Here is the full text of the letter of resignation from Howard Davies addressed to Peter Sutherland, the LSE’s chairman of the Court of Governors:

Dear Peter,
When the reputational consequences for the LSE of accepting the donation from the GICDF (Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation) became clear, I offered to resign my position as director. You asked me to reconsider, and to talk first to the council. At its meeting on Tuesday the council offered me its support, and I was very grateful for that. But on reflection I have concluded that it would nonetheless be right for me to step down, even though I know that this will cause difficulty for the institution I have come to love.
The short point is that I am responsible for the school’s reputation, and that has suffered. I believe that the decisions we have made were reasonable, and can be justified. The grant from the foundation was used to support work on civil society in North Africa, which will have value in the future. The training programmes we have run in Libya will also prove valuable in enhancing the practical skills of many people who will be needed under whatever successor regime emerges. I should also say that I have no evidence whatsoever that anyone has behaved improperly in this whole episode. To the best of my current knowledge (though we are currently reviewing the evidence), the degrees to Saif Gaddafi were correctly awarded, and there was no link between the grant and the degrees.
But however laudable our intentions, in the light of developments in Libya the consequences have been highly unfortunate, and I must take responsibility for that. I advised the council that it was reasonable to accept the money, and that has turned out to be a mistake. There were risks involved in taking funding from sources associated with Libya, and they should have been weighed more heavily in the balance. Also, I made a personal error of judgment in accepting the British government’s invitation to be an economic envoy, and the consequent Libyan invitation to advise their sovereign wealth fund. There was nothing substantive to be ashamed of in that (modest and unpaid) work, and I disclosed it fully, but the consequence has been to make it more difficult for me to defend the institution than it would otherwise have been.
So I think it would be better for the institution if we announce that I intend to step down. I know this will cause some short-term disruption, but I have concluded with great sadness that it is the right thing to do. I am of course willing to help with the transition in any way I can, and to stay on for a period of time if that is helpful. I am grateful to you and your predecessor Tony Grabiner for giving me the opportunity to lead this fine university, and I wish it every success in the future.
Yours ever
Howard Davies

Davies and the LSE’s money-grabbing Blairites were warned at the time by Prof Fred Halliday, that rare thing: a principled and honest LSE academic.

Meanwhile, Tendency Coatsey reminds us of the role of another (former) LSE boss, Tony Blair’s friend and guru…

Lord Giddens of Enfield and the Third Way.

Anthony Giddens the former director of the LSE, and noted theorist of the Third Way, has been in a spot of bother (More here).

Baron Giddens , after a trip to Lybia, observed in  March 2007,

“If Gadafy is sincere about reform, as I think he is, Libya could end up as the Norway of North Africa.”

As one-party states go, Libya is not especially repressive. Gadafy seems genuinely popular. Our discussion of human rights centred mostly upon freedom of the press. Would he allow greater diversity of expression in the country? There isn’t any such thing at the moment. Well, he appeared to confirm that he would. Almost every house in Libya already seems to have a satellite dish. And the internet is poised to sweep the country. Gadafy spoke of supporting a scheme that will make computers with internet access, priced at $100 each, available to all, starting with schoolchildren.

Will real progress be possible only when Gadafy leaves the scene? I tend to think the opposite. If he is sincere in wanting change, as I think he is, he could play a role in muting conflict that might otherwise arise as modernisation takes hold. My ideal future for Libya in two or three decades’ time would be a Norway of North Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking. Not easy to achieve, but not impossible.

Read the rest here.

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The Pitt of “Islamophobia”

January 31, 2011 at 2:11 am (anti-semitism, fascism, islamism, Jim D, labour party, Marxism, relativism, twat)

The following is from Islamist-apologist and ex-socialist Bob Pitt. I think he may be talking about us (and Marxists in general): to their shame the Labour-left journal Labour Briefing have published this lying, clerical-fascism-loving shite without a health-warning:

  • Islamophobia: does Labour measure up?
  • DateSunday, January 30, 2011

    Does Labour measure up?

    By Bob Pitt

    Labour Briefing, February 2011

    “The Islamophobia Myth” was the title of an influential article by Kenan Malik published in the February 2005 issue of Prospect magazine. It argued that violence, hatred and discrimination against Muslims were at a very low level and that the threat of Islamophobia had been invented or at least greatly exaggerated, mainly by religious leaders hoping to suppress legitimate criticisms of their beliefs and to enhance their own status as community representatives. Malik’s thesis was welcomed in some quarters at the time, including among sections of the left.

    Six years on, far fewer people would buy that argument. Hostility towards Muslims and their faith has reached such a pitch that to deny this represents a major threat is simply untenable. When the racist hooligans of the English Defence League take to the streets in towns and cities across the UK brandishing placards with slogans such as “We will never submit to Islam”, chanting “Burn a mosque down” and on occasion breaking through police lines to rampage through Muslim areas smashing shop windows and assaulting passers-by, who could seriously claim that Islamophobia is a myth?

    The EDL and its ideology did not emerge in a political vacuum. When its leaders claim that Britain is undergoing a process of “Islamification”, that the existing legal system is being supplanted by sharia courts or that mosques are potential organising centres for terrorism, they haven’t thought up these ideas by themselves. These are themes constantly promoted by papers like the Express, the Mail, the Sun and the Daily Star, and it is this mainstream right wing Islamophobia that inspires and legitimises the more thuggish forms of anti-Muslim bigotry practised by the EDL and other far-right groups. Indeed, Nick Griffin has openly stated that the BNP aims to “take advantage for our own political ends of the growing wave of public hostility to Islam currently being whipped up by the mass media”.

    While Islamophobia is predominantly a right wing political phenomenon, but by no means exclusively so. Because this campaign against a minority community is framed as an attack on their culture rather than their ethnicity, it has been able to win the backing of people with otherwise progressive political views who would recoil in horror from traditional racism based on skin colour. Liberal and leftist Islamophobia is typically couched in terms of a defence of Enlightenment values, secularism, feminism or gay rights, but the effect is to reinforce the right wing narrative of British Muslims as an alien presence and internal threat.

    Islamophobes of left and right will often claim that they are not attacking Islam as such but rather “Islamism” – a term that is applied so broadly as to cover almost all Muslim organisations which involve themselves in political action, the aim being to blur the difference between those groups promoting peaceful change through engagement with mainstream politics and those advocating violence.

    Some of the fiercest critics of political Islam have been supporters of the Iraq war like Observer journalist Nick Cohen, who suddenly discovered that Islamism posed an existential threat to western civilisation after the Muslim Association of Britain emerged as a leading force in the organisation of mass anti-war protests. For others, hostility towards Islamism stems primarily from the fact that politically engaged Muslims are vocal critics of the Palestinian people’s oppression by the Israeli state. Here Islamophobia is harnessed to the Zionist agenda of delegitimising political support for the Palestinian resistance.

    The result of all this is a mood of resentment and antagonism towards Muslims, their beliefs and their organisations that extends across the political spectrum and through all sections of society. There are clear and very worrying parallels with the rise of antisemitism in the early decades of the last century.

    What has the Labour Party’s response been to this rising tide of Islamophobia? “Mixed” is the best you can say. In some cases Labour has shamefully adapted to the prevailing anti-Muslim mood.

    One example of this was the disgraceful propaganda put out by Phil Woolas in Oldham East and Saddleworth during the 2010 General Election, the purpose of which was to “get the white vote angry” by claiming that the Lib Dem candidate was in an alliance with Muslim extremists. A Labour campaign leaflet featured headlines such as “Straight talking Woolas too fair for militant Muslims” and “Lib Dems in mosque planning permission stitch-up”. Woolas’s election agent suggested privately that traditional Conservative voters who were unhappy about backing the Tories’ Muslim candidate might be persuaded to support Labour rather than the Lib Dems “if we can convince them that they are being used by the Moslems”.

    During the by-election that followed the court decision to disqualify Woolas, Jack Straw made a further pitch for the white racist vote by endorsing the myth of Asian grooming. His accusation that some men of Pakistani heritage regard young white women as “easy meat” won him the admiration of the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips who hailed his stand against “Muslim sexual predators”. This was nothing new for Straw. In October 2006 he condemned the Muslim face-veil as a “visible statement of separation” and revealed that whenever a constituent visited his surgery wearing one he asked her to remove it. Predictably, Straw’s remarks unleashed a vicious media campaign against veil-wearing Muslim women, with “Ban the burkha” headlines splashed across the front pages of the right wing press.

    That same month the then Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly announced on behalf of the Labour Government that there would be a “fundamental rebalancing of our relations with Muslim organisations”, which involved sidelining the Muslim Council of Britain with its 500 affiliates in favour of an obscure outfit called the Sufi Muslim Council that barely had five members. In 2009 Kelly’s successor Hazel Blears took the opportunity to break relations with the MCB entirely, on the basis of an accusation that one of its leading figures, Daud Abdullah, had signed a document “advocating attacks on Jewish communities all around the world” – an accusation that was completely untrue.

    The severing of links between the Labour Government and the MCB was partly due to the latter’s refusal to remain silent about the role of British foreign policy in enabling advocates of violent extremism to get a hearing among disaffected Muslim youth. The Sufi Muslim Council by contrast was viewed favourably because it placed the blame on Islamist ideology and let the Government off the hook. (The same reasoning lay behind the decision to funnel large sums of public money into another divisive and unrepresentative organisation, the Quilliam Foundation.)

    In repudiating the country’s largest Muslim organisation the Labour leadership was also succumbing to pressure from an anti-MCB campaign conducted by John Ware in his 2005 Panorama documentary A Question of Leadership and Martin Bright in his 2006 Policy Exchange pamphlet When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: The British State’s flirtation with radical Islamism, both of which portrayed the MCB as a nest of Islamist extremists.

    Last year we saw a similar capitulation by the party leadership to an anti-Islamist witch-hunt when the NEC blocked Lutfur Rahman from standing as Labour’s mayoral candidate in Tower Hamlets. The decision followed a campaign by Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan to expose Lutfur as an ally of “Islamic fundamentalists” at the East London Mosque who had supposedly infiltrated the Labour Party as part of a plot to transform Tower Hamlets into an Islamic state. The people of Tower Hamlets delivered their verdict on the NEC’s acceptance of Gilligan’s paranoid fantasies by electing Lutfur as an independent mayor with a massive majority.

    In the interests of balance, it should be added that the Labour leadership’s record on Islamophobia has not been all bad. To its credit, the last Government did introduce the religious hatred bill in an attempt to provide Muslims and other multi-ethnic faith communities with the same legal protection as Jews and Sikhs (who are defined as mono-ethnic and covered by the law against incitement to racial hatred) – only to see the legislation sabotaged by an amendment drawn up by Lib Dem peer Lord Lester.

    However, it is prominent figures on the Labour left who have set an example to the rest of the Party in taking a firm and principled stand against the upsurge in anti-Muslim bigotry. Jeremy Corbyn, for example, has established warm relations with the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park since Abu Hamza and his gang were ousted in 2005 and has rejected attempts by the likes of Gilligan and the Quilliam Foundation to smear the present management as dangerous extremists.

    During his eight years as Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone worked closely with organisations like the MCB and the British Muslim Initiative in defending the capital’s Muslim communities and he was uncompromising in his refusal to bend to the forces of Islamophobia, notably in resisting the hysterical attacks that followed the welcome he gave to Yusuf al-Qaradawi during his visit to London in 2004. The struggle to get the Labour Party to purge itself of Islamophobia and adopt a more sensitive approach towards representative Muslim organisations will be greatly strengthened if Ken is returned to City Hall in 2012.

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    Caborn, Fifa bribery and the self-righteousness of the sports lobby

    November 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm (BBC, Jim D, labour party, sport, twat)

    The BBC’s Panorama documentary presented what appeared to be pretty damning evidence of corruption within Fifa, the world football governing body.

    According to Panorama, Nicolas Leoz, Issa Hayatou and Ricardo Teixeira accepted bribes from a marketing firm, International Sport and Leisure (ISL) between 1989 and 1999. The company went bust in 2001.

    Panorma‘s evidence would appear to be pretty conclusive.

    What struck me was the reaction of most of the British sports “establishment” and some politicians (including Cameron): bleating about the “timing” of Panorama’s revalations (damaging to Britain’s World Cup bid), and complaining that this is “old news” (“old” in the sense that Fifa is so corrupt that it’s been known about for years and nothing has been done).

    For Chrissakes! Even politicians have to answer to charges of corruption! The idea that sports people are somehow above such investigation, or (worse) that Britain’s  hosting of the 2018 tournament is more important than the exposure of corruption in Fifa, is truly appalling. Who do these self-righteous, self-important sports bosses and gravy-train-jumpers think they are? Above the law? Above the normal rules that apply to the rest of us – including, even, politicians?

    Sports Minister Richard Caborn
    Caborn is siding with the corrupt Fifa 

    One of the worst of these sports-dissemblers is Labours Richard Caborn, a truly wretched apologist who keeps turning up on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme denouncing Panorama‘s exposure of Fifa corruption. I have no idea why the miserable right-wing Labourite Caborn feels so upset by the exposure of corruption, and continually appears in the media defending Fifa and denouncing Panorama. But Ed Miliband really aught to think about reining in a senior Labour figure who regularly appears in the media excusing corruption.

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