Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour and anti-Semitism revisited

Since my last post the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has reached a level of hysteria that clearly is no longer an issue of Oxford University Labour Club and a few slightly unhinged individuals.
It has become a full scale attempt to destabilise the leadership and to force a crisis in the party and to try and topple the first Party Leader elected by a huge landslide on an avowedly socialist platform.
Without going over my last blog,where my views are as clear as I can possibly make them,it is time for socialists to take stock of what is happening and understand that this is no existential crisis of a handful of disgruntled,'grunts' but rather a concerted effort to break the will of the majority of Party members and go back to the past and restore a modified Blair-lite Labour party.
Lets get the anti-Semitism out of the way first.
There have been rumblings going on for weeks, the nonsense,largely unproven about in a university Labour Club became the catalyst of something allegedly  dark and sinister in the undergrowth of the Party.
Then there was the constant sniping by MP's and others of Jeremy sharing platforms with unsavoury elements.Whilst of course all this guilt by association has been going on nobody much noticed some Labour MP's happily sharing platforms with Farage and others of the far right.
Nor was much said about Blair and others sharing friendly little tete-a-tetes  with people like Rupert Murdoch and other enemies of the people (or do we politely forget Rupe's newspaper 'the Sun' and the vile comments about Liverpool and Hillsborough ?)
I may not be a sophisticated worldly wide statesman like Blair,but I'd rather share a platform with an elected leader of Sinn Fein than a seriously corrupt newspaper billionaire or his monstrous lackeys.
But no matter.
Then of course there was the stream of rich men,'donors' to the Labour party who promised never to open their bulging wallets again until Jeremy was gone and a cute pro-business leader was installed.
Well bye-bye Lord Sugar,you won't be missed and can we have our peerage back and give it to someone more deserving,like a junior doctor or a hospital porter.
In case you haven't noticed,Bernie Saunders is doing just fine with contributions from millions of ordinary citizens-no fat cats thee to call the tune.
So the story rolled on, and someone unearthed a facebook post by Naz Shah,the young bradford MP that she posted a couple of years ago,at the height of the last bombing campaign against Gaza by the Israeli government.At the time she was not an MP.
But that was enough, and all hell broke out ,she had to resign an unpaid PPS job with the shadow chancellor and was subsequently suspended from the Party.

In hindsight as a post it was a bit daft, but it was NOT anti-Semitic, it was a reference to the Israeli government and at a stretch Zionism.It was aimed at a political target, not a racial,religious or any other target.
She is the sort of young woman the Labour Party should be rejoicing in having as an MP, a fiesty woman who stood against patriarchy in her Muslim community and is brave and outspoken, in my view a bit like Mairi Black of the SNP-the future of British politics, not a time serving Party hack.

And then we have ken Livingstone.I had hoped that he would use his ability to mount a serious defence of Naz, however as so often happens with people like Ken, the ego got in the way.Astonishingly  even George Galloway sounded more diplomatic and stuck to the point.
But of course ken's shorthand of history,and somewhat confused at that,played into the hands of every Blairite that ever there was.
As an aside,if ken has been suspended for bringing the party into disrepute, how come John Mann, hurling public abuse at a fellow Party member with carefully orchestrated TV crews in tow,has got away with a knuckle slap.
it does appear there are two parties at work at the moment,and the slogan appears to be right-right,left-wrong !

I know many comrades feel that the creation of Israel was a mistake back in 1948.That might well be true,and the then Labour Government didn't exactly cover itself in glory,of course when you had a dubious anti-Semitic Foreign Secretary in Ernie Bevin chaos was bound to be the order of the day.But that was then,
There can only be one solution left and that is the two nation solution.As a Scot I find it hard not to support the right of small nations to self-determination, and it would be hypocritical if I argued that for Scotland and Palestine and not for Israel.The state exists-end of!
And it is wrong for the left to see Zionism as one homogenous block,one ideology,one size fits all solution.Right from the start of the Zionist movement there was a progressive wing as well as a reactionary religious wing.many European socialist and trade unionists who were Jewish believed in a national homeland, and were also happy to work and live with their Arab neighbours,and of course there is a sizeable number of Arabic Jews -after all they are all Semitic people.
So forget the hysteria,ignore the siren voices who are using this narrative to undermine the leadership of the Labour Party.There is far too much feigned outrage and far to little comradeship on display.

just in case you forget what it's all about listen to Ruthie Gorton's song on YouTube'To Understand Oppression is to be a Jew-so Free Palestine Now'.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Labour Party and anti-semitism

The 'Mail on Sunday' is a newspaper,no,it is not a 'newspaper' it is at best a comic and at worst a salacious journal of misrepresentation and outright abuse.
It has of course a long history of misrepresentation,lies and campaigning for the wrong cause at the wrong time.
Lest we ever forget, Lord Rothermere's paper in the 1930's was first to proclaim 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts' and gave away free tickets for Mosley's rallies in London .
It was of course the principal cheerleader for Hitler and appeasement.
Find a reactionary cause,and I can guarantee you'll find 'The Mail' standing four square behind it.
I can only assume that those who work for it are either paid outlandishly large sums or actually share the reactionary tosh that they write.
I find that a pity as they have had,and still do,have some talented journalists,so unless they are out and out xenophobes,mini-Farages,crypto fascists or simply bonkers then the only judgement that can be made is that they write only for the money and therefore are prostituting what talent they have.
So when a Rotheremere hack has a belt at junior doctors for letting down their profession,or teachers for selling out the youngsters they teach or social workers for failing the vulnerable-just remember who is voicing the garbage and why they are doing it!

They have always hated the Labour Party and the Labour movement and progressive thought generally.
The Mail,and indeed papers like it (that is most of the British press) would of course all prefer to exist in a world of Tories and Whigs when there was deference to authority,the crown,the military our betters and even the Church of England !
many of their views are so pre-enlightenment that they would have fitted in well  in Tudor England (of course that tiresome old radical Wm. Shakespeare would have been stuck writing comedies and little else)
But we are stuck where we are,and almost implausibly the Mail and the Mail on Sunday are determined to tell the Labour Party to be responsible and be a grown up opposition and do the right thing (right being the operative word)  and exile all those in the Labour Party that sound like socialists=the only surprise is that there are no longer any 'Get back to Russia' headlines,so they make do with 'Get back to North Korea' and stuff like that.
The real implausibility of all this is the campaign they are running about alleged 'anti-Semitism' in the Labour Party.Despite the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that there is no place for anti-Semitism or racialism in the Labour Party and never will be, and this has resulted already in suspensions of people accused of writing apparently anti Semitic provocations.
And so it should be and so it always will be.
When I was a fourteen year old boy in London the first movement I joined,even before CND and CARD, was the Yellow Star Movement.It began in the East End of London just as Mosely's Union Movement was starting to stir again(remember who was Oswald's biggest backer!) and what Yellow Star did was pursued a policy of 'No  Platform for Fascists'.This was not done in the quiet surroundings of university common rooms but rather on the streets of Hackney and Islington, in street markets and on street corners.
And Yellow Star didn't go in for polite heckling or holding carefully worded placards.
When we said no platform,.that was quite simply what we did.We cut the wires on their microphones and trashed their platforms.
Crude but effective.many of our supporters were ex-army,many were Communist Party members,many were Jewish lads,many were local trade unionists.
We were ferried round to the fascists meetings in black cabs,driven by sympathetic Jewish cabbies,and all good trade unionists too.

Like so many on the left what weakens our cause is attempts to whip up hate against anyone because of their race,colour,belief or indeed anything that sets one group against another.
I can't deny that within some sections of the'left' there is an element of anti-Semitism.Some of the small Trotskyite sects have we know relied in the past for funding from some dubious Arab governments.They have conflated support for Palestine with a militant anti-Zionism and that has in some cases transmuted into so meting that can be seen as anti-Jewish.
Similarly some of the Arab groups have done the same, and as long as some on the outer fringes of Arab nationalism believe that the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' was a real document,then there will always be battles to be fought ideologically.
Yet as I like to quote a song by Ruthie Gorton I heard over 40 years ago:
"To understand oppression is to be a Jew,
  So free Palestine Now!"
is a good guiding principle.

So if there are a small number of misguided people in the Labour Party who are anti-Semitic, then they must go.However the Labour Party must always be striving for unity amongst all people,and we are where we are,and so sometime there must be a settlement in the Middle East that frees the Palestinian people from the incarceration of refugee camps for generations, and there must in return be a recognition that Israel exists and a two,three ,however many it takes,state solution must be found.
You know the oddest part of the whole story is that Arabs and Jews are both Semitic people and lived together harmoniously for centuries!
And one last point, it's time that some Labour MP's and 'donors' stopped their drip drip campaign against the Labour Party leadership-and stopped taking the Rotheremere shilling!
Now that would be progress.