Archive for the ‘Judaism’ Category

Giorgia Meloni – My Opinion

June 8, 2023

Mark Pattie, one of the great commenters here, has asked me what my opinion if of Giorgia Meloni, the president or prime minister of Italy and the leader of the far right Fratelli d’Italia party. I have to say my opinion of her is very mixed. First of all, I think that she’s extremely intelligent, like her French counterpart, Marine le Pen, of the National Rally party. Both of them strike me as being far brighter and better communicators than their mainstream rivals. They are, or claim to be, offering real alternatives that will benefit their nations. All their rivals have to offer is pretty much the same neoliberalism and support for the European Union that many Italians and Frenchmen and women seem to be tired of. I think Macron a few weeks ago was again touting the idea of a common European army. That, if I recall correctly, was one of the ideas dreamed by the French president Jacques Delors over a decade ago. It was part of his European federalist project, which no-one, apart from Delors himself and his cohorts, seemed to have much enthusiasm for. It was vehemently denounced over here by the Brexiteers as an occupation force, which it wouldn’t have been. But I don’t think any nation would willingly surrender its control of its defence forces to any kind of superstate. If Macron was pushing this idea, then it seems to show that he’s run out of ideas and is groping around for anything that might inspire or enthuse the public.

I certainly am not happy about the two parties – Meloni’s Fratelli and Le Pen’s National Rally’s roots in Fascism. That said, Le Pen is a very canny operator. She dropped the Nazi stuff and turned it more centre-right, like the other ‘post-fascist’ party, the Allianza Nazionale that emerged from the Blackshirts of the MSI. And to give the Fratelli due credit, Italy is still a pluralist democracy. She hasn’t outlawed the other parties and there aren’t, it seems, uniformed black shirted storm troopers on the streets beating up Communists, liberals, democrats and foreigners.

Immigration and Improving Conditions in Africa

And I can well appreciate the forces that have pushed her into power. Italy, Spain, France and Greece are very much on the front line regarding the immigrant boats from Africa, and I think the question of how many more migrants Europe can take is a reasonable one. A friend of mine used to be a member of UKIP, and he once told me it wasn’t immigration itself that he had an issue with, it was just that they migrants kept coming. Mass immigration was an issue in Italy before Meloni. The Five Star Party, set up by an Italian comedian, was very anti-immigration. There were also reports that a Black African woman in one of the Italian governments had made a speech calling for the legalisation of polygamy. I’m strongly opposed to this, as I imagine most westerners would be. And she’s very clever at defending her anti-immigration stance. I had a video of her pop up on my YouTube feed a few days speaking in the Italian parliament about four years ago. She was rebutting accusations that she and her party were racists for demanding that Italy withdraw from the UN Migrant Charter by pointing out the number of nations that had already done so, including America and Austria, rhetorically asking if these countries were also racist. She criticised the French by pointing out that they were in no position to call anyone racist, as they sent any migrants heading over the border from Italy back over it to Ventimiglia.

But she’s also well aware that stemming migration means improving conditions in Africa. She called for support to be given to the Tunisian banks. These had crashed, and she afraid that this would result in a fresh wave of migration from north Africa. She also criticised the French for exploiting African nations. Thirty per cent of the uranium for the French nuclear power stations, she claimed, came from Niger, where children were labouring in the mines and 90 per cent of the population had no electricity. She has said that Africa needs to be freed from European exploitation. This is something I’ve only heard people on the left saying over here. I’ve heard no similar sentiments from Johnson, Truss or Sumak, let alone Rees-Mogg.

European Union, the Single Currency and the Dictatorship of the Troika

Regarding her antipathy to the European Union, some of that might come from Italy’s experience joining the single currency and then the effective government of the country by the EU troika on behalf of the banks. One of the speakers I heard at various seminars at Bristol Uni when I was study for my Ph.D. was an Italian theology student. Talking to her one evening at one of the meetings of a medieval studies group, she told us how the single currency had affected her homeland. It had been disastrous. Prices had risen massively to the point where people were extremely angry. So angry that she didn’t feel safe there. And then when the country had been hit with a financial crisis along with Ireland, Spain and Greece, they had had a government imposed on them by France, Germany and one of the other major players and policies dictated to them to pay back the loans. In practice, this means that the money was simply transferred from one German bank to another. Which I think may partly explain her hostility to the EU and international finance. Cut the anti-Semitism, and the great international financiers have caused immense damage to the global economy and working people are still having to pay the price.

Defence of the Family and Gay Rights

I also, as a general issue, don’t have any problem at all with her stance behind the general NatCon values of family, faith, flag. Although this slogan is close to Mussolini’s ‘Family, Faith, Fatherland’. As a general principle, I think the nuclear family needs to be strengthened and properly valued because of the immense damage that is being done to children from fatherless families. But I am well aware that there are single mothers who have done excellent jobs of raising their children, who are a credit to them.

Similarly, if I am honest, I cannot say that I find gay couples with children the ideal family situation. But, I am also well aware that there have been single-sex parents who have also been great at raising their children. And these kids respected them for the great job they’d done caring for them. There have been scandals over in the states where trans couples have been arrested for committing terrible abuse of the children they’d adopted, but there have also been sickening cases over here of straight couples, who have abused and murdered their children. In my view, gay parents are no more prone to abusing children than straights and so, when it comes to providing a home for a child, their sexuality shouldn’t be an object, only their general character.

The surrogacy issue is rather more involved, and to a certain extent here she has a point. She does not want foreign gay couples paying Italian women to carry their child. She has explained this by pointing to Ukraine, where women have been paid by foreigners to be surrogate mothers. The gay couples, who have fathered the child have not picked it up, and so these kids end up in orphanages. She also points to the moral prohibition against the commodification of the human body. People and their body parts are not items to be bought and sold like any other product. When this comes to human life and reproduction, this is especially important. Back in the 1980s Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical about the issue. It was naturally attacked because I think it included the standard Catholic prohibitions on contraception and abortion, both of which I believe should be legal. But the objection to the commodification of the human body has, I believe, the general support of theologians and moral philosophers outside Roman Catholicism, but I think surrogate motherhood has been an exception to this up to now.

It may seem surprising, but Meloni’s stance on banning artificial reproduction for the benefit of gays was actually mainstream forty years ago. Back in the 1980s there were initiatives in Britain to set up sperm banks. The woman running one was interviewed by the left-wing Sunday newspaper, the Observer. She was asked about the issue of gay men providing sperm so that their lesbian friends could conceive. The woman replied no, that was happening with her bank. All her young men had girlfriends. This was, as I said, in the Observer, a liberal newspaper which is also pro-feminist and anti-racist. Meloni’s trying to drag Italy back to this era in respect to gay surrogacy. It’s reactionary, but I wouldn’t like to say that it is more than that. Where I have an issue with her on this is that it should also apply to heterosexual couples. Meloni’s prohibition doesn’t, and so is clearly discriminatory and homophobic.

Supporting Christianity

I’m also religious, and would like to see a revival of Christianity in this country, as well as in other parts of what used to be Christendom. But I want it to be a reasonable, tolerant Christianity, rather than the militant sectarianism I’ve seen from some extremely right-wing Christian evangelists. I think Christianity in America has been harmed by the right-wing televangelists that appeared under Reagan. Some simply preached ‘Prosperity Gospel’, the doctrine that if you accept Christ, you’ll become rich, and quite a few seemed to be interested in enriching themselves. The Rev. Jim Bakker got caught with his hand in the parish poor box, so to speak. He may also have been having an extramarital affair, as were others. He got sent to the slammer. He’s now out, and a few years ago he wrote a very good book attacking Prosperity Gospel as a heresy, and calling for people to accept Christ. It’s tarnished Christianity’s image amongst a section of young people. There are some brilliant Christian preachers, philosophers and theologians out there, who are well worth listening to, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. But you don’t hear so much about them.

Pride in Country Natural

As for pride in one’s country, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with that. Britain, America and the west have done terrible things, but they have also done immense good. America was a racist, apartheid state. But it dismantled those laws under pressure from civil rights leaders like MLK and Martin X. I similarly take issue with the glib anti-racism claiming that Britain is institutionally racist because of the British empire, and that we should therefore feel guilt and shame about being White. One of the other books I really want to review is Nigel Biggar’ Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning. Biggar’s a moral theologian at Oxford, and the book’s a rebuttal of this facile view. It’s been intensely controversial, and his publishing contract was broken at one point. But he does show that in very many cases, British imperialists genuinely acted for what they considered to be the best interests of the subaltern peoples. The first British governor of Egypt, for example, told the colonial secretary that if the best interests of the Egyptian people conflicted with orders from Britain, he would ignore those orders. And when he said ‘Egyptian people’, he meant all the Egyptian people, not just Arabs, but also Copts, Greeks, Armenians and Africans from further south. Even Cecil bloody Rhodes was better than he’s often painted. Yes, he’s a blackguard, but he stood up for the right of the minuscule Black electorate in South Africa to vote when the government was trying to deprive them of it. As for the Benin Bronzes, which many racial activists would like repatriated, they were seized during a military expedition part of whose objectives were to stop the Benin people enslaving and slaughtering the people’s around them in mass human sacrifices. Bacon, the expedition’s intelligence officer, wrote an account of it, including graphic descriptions of the victims they found, in his book City of Blood.

Anti-Semitic Undertones to Rhetoric about International Finance

What gives me profound misgivings about Meloni, however, is when she starts spouting the Nazi nonsense about nationality, faith and the family being under attack by international finance and George Soros. It has nasty anti-Semitic overtones, although so far, she hasn’t said anything outright against the Jews. Anti-Semitism aside, I do believe the development of capitalism has worked to undermine the nation state and people’s natural loyalty to their homeland and the family. There hasn’t been an evil genius behind this. It’s just that international financial speculators, like Jacob Rees-Mogg, have had no moral issues investing in Britain’s rivals and moving their money across continents in order to maximise profits. Mogg is, of course, a Roman Catholic, which I hope helps to explode any myth that the Jews are somehow behind it. Western nations like America and Britain are being harmed by outsourcing and the movement of their industries abroad. That’s one of the reasons many Americans voted for Trump, even though he promptly broke that policy once elected. And I believe that extreme individualism that has led to the decline of the family and attachment to wider British society partly comes from the way late 20th century capitalism tried to turn people from citizens into atomised consumers. Meloni has said this, and I agree with her.

Concern about Welfare and Economic Policies

I am, however, deeply concerned about her welfare and economic policies. She’s fiscally conservative, demanding low taxation, which in my experience means starving the state budget so that state supported industries and services decline to the point of collapse. And I have found a video of her speaking to the far right Spanish Vox party in a rally in Spain. This makes me feel profoundly uneasy given what a monster Franco was. He was more brutal and ruthless in the massacres he carried out than the Italian Fascists who fought for him in the Spanish Civil War. And when they’re worse than Musso’s storm troopers, it’s clear you’re dealing with a monster. Spain is still suffering the scars from his dictatorship. I realise that Vox and the Centre Right party have won a landslide election, but the thought that there are some people in the coalition that might be nostalgic for the old brute is deeply disturbing. This is my assessment of her so far. She’s anti-immigrant, but so far not racist; homophobic, but has a point regarding issues like surrogacy; broadly right about the importance of the traditional family, religion and country, though I am worried about the direction these common sense values could be taken. I don’t want them to be given the kind of totalitarian, intolerant support Mussolini and the fascists gave them. Nor do I want single mothers and gay parents to be demonised. And I have deep disquiet about her economic policies and attitude towards welfare provision. If she’s anything like the rest of the right, she’ll try and cut it to the point where working class poverty increases.

A Study of the Ideology Behind 1960s French Revolutionary Radicalism

June 1, 2023

Richard Gombin, The Origins of Modern Leftism (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1975)

The late 1960s saw a wave of radical ferment and agitation erupt in America and France. In America, the Students for a Democratic Society and other groups campaigned against the Vietnam War and for a radical reform of American society, while Black civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X demanded the end of segregation and improved conditions for Black Americans. This radical agitation was marked by race riots and left-wing terrorism by groups like the Weathermen. I think that most people on this side of the Atlantic are probably more familiar with the American situation than the French through the close ties between Britain and America in the Special Relationship. But France also experienced a wave a radical unrest beginning with the occupation of the Sorbonne by radical students in 1968. These then established contacts with ordinary workers, who struck in sympathy, and there was a wave of wildcat strikes. By the end of the decade and the early 1970s, sections of the radical left were turning to kidnapping and terrorism. Although the French revolutionary activism of these years may be less-well known, it has nevertheless impressed itself on British memory and culture. The left-wing French director, Jean-Paul Godard, produced a film about the agitation and unrest around Jagger and the Stones preparing to record ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. The Sex Pistol’s manager, Malcolm McLaren, spuriously claimed to have been a member of the Situationists, one of the radical groups involved in the unrest. And the ideas of ideologues like Guy Debord have found a readership and supporters among the British left. Way back in the 1980s there was a volume of revolutionary texts from 1968 published, I think, by the Socialist Workers Party. And the radical unrest and its turn to terrorism is covered by Guardian columnist Francis Wheen in his book on ‘70s paranoia.

Gombin was an academic attached to the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique. His book isn’t a history of the revolutionary movement of the late 60s in France, but an examination of its ideology. He calls this ‘Leftism’ and contrasts it with ‘extremism’, which is how he terms radical Marxism. This is the extreme left-wing Marxism, often Trotskyite, which approaches or has some of the ideas and attitudes of the Leftists, but does not go as far as them by rejecting Marxism. And ‘leftism’ itself could be described instead as post-Marxism. Gombin explains that Marxism came late to France, and as a result the gap of a quarter of century or so until French intellectuals and activists caught up with the radical experiments and revision of Marxism carried out by the German, Hungarian and other eastern European Communists and radical socialists in the council and communist revolutions of 1919 and the early 1920s. The revelations of the horrors of Stalin’s brutal dictatorship in the USSR, the gulags and the purges, came as a shock to left-wing intellectuals in France and elsewhere. The Communist party had uncritical accepted the lie that the former Soviet Union was a workers’ paradise. In response to these revelations, some Marxist intellectuals like Sartre condemned the purges and gulags, but otherwise remained faithful to the Communist party. Others went further and joined the Trotskyites. But a few others were moved to use Marx’s critical methods to examine Marxism itself, and rejected many of its central doctrines.

The revolutionary movement was led by a number of different groups, such as Socialism ou Barbarie, Rouge et Noire, the Situationists and radical trade unions like the CFDT, which had originally been set up a social Catholic organisation separate from the socialist trade unions. There seems to have been no overarching ideology, and indeed the radicals explicitly rejected any ideology that sought to dictate the course of the revolution. Nevertheless, there were a set of key ideas and attitudes shared by these groups. This rejected all hierarchies, those of modern, capitalist society, the trade union leadership and the patriarchal family, as well as the education and university system. They adopted wholeheartedly Marx’s slogan that the emancipation of the working class should be done by the working class, while also creating new ideas responding to the new welfare state and affluent society.

The viewed Marxism and trade unionism as a response to the conditions of the 19th century, when the working class had to concentrate on winning concessions from the capitalists and authorities in order to survive. However, the establishment of the welfare state had removed the threat of death and deprivation, and so the workers could now move on to the task of reforming society itself. The expanded Marx’s doctrine of alienation so that it didn’t just cover capitalism’s alienation of the worker from the goods he produced, and the latter’s fetishization, but also the alienation created by the affluent society. People’s real needs and desires were suppressed, and false needs created instead. Work should be playful, but instead the worker suffered boredom.

They also considered that there was a fundamental similarity between the capitalist west and the Soviet bloc, which resulted in them calling the USSR’s brand of state socialism ‘State capitalism’ in contrast to the ideal socialism in which society would be run by the workers. Communist rule in Russia had not liberated the workers, but instead created a new governing class. Unlike western capitalism, the Communist bureaucracy did not own the properties and industries they directed, but otherwise held the same power and privilege that in the west was held by the capitalist elites and industrialists. Changes in capitalism had also resulted in a cleavage between those who owned the companies, and those who directed and managed them. As a result, the struggle in the west was between workers and directors, not workers and owners. Soviet Communism was dubbed state capitalism as it was held the bureaucratic socialism of the USSR resembled that of western capitalism, the difference being that in the Soviet bloc all industries were owned by the state rather than private capitalists. One ideologue, Burnham, considered that Fascism and Communism were both examples of ‘state collectivism’, with the difference between the two being that private industry was retained under Fascism. Burnham was a vicious anti-Semite, and had previously urged the workers to unite with the Fascists against the Jews.

The radicals also rejected critical Marxist doctrines like dialectal materialism and its claim to have produced a science of capitalist development. In his later writings, Marx had believed that he had uncovered the sociological laws that would lead capitalism inevitably to give way to socialism. The Leftists rejected this because it was removed the voluntarist element from revolutionary activity. Instead of revolutionaries deliberately setting out to overturn capitalism and usher in the new socialist society, this attitude instead that all they needed to do was wait for it all to happen on its own. In their view, this attitude was closer to the evolutionary socialism of Bernstein than the Marxism of 1848. They rejected Lenin’s doctrine of a centralised party of active revolutionaries, because the workers on their own could only attain trade union consciousness. This, according to the Leftists, had resulted in a bureaucratic class that ruled over the workers, and was certainly not the vanguard of the working class as it was declared to be by Lenin. They did, however, believe in some kind of central party or organisation, but this would only be to guide and suggest possible ideas and actions, not to dictate a revolutionary programme. And all revolutionary ideas and policies should be subjected to the rigorous test of whether they worked in practice. If they did, they were true. If not, they were ‘ideology’, used in the same sense of Marx’s ‘false consciousness’. The revolutionary could only be carried out by the conscious will of the workers, as they became aware of their mission to reform society, independent of any ideas of social progress or objective historical conditions. There was therefore a radical subjective aspect to their conception of revolutionary activism in opposition to Marx’s ideas of historical progress according to object material conditions. Some of them also challenged Marxism-Leninism’s materialism, in which consciousness arose from matter and was merely matter reflecting itself. This got them attacked as ‘Idealists’ by the Communists.

They rejected the patriarchal family as an institution which brought up and trained the worker to accept hierarchical authority and his position in society as a worker, as well as the sexual repression that resulted from the prohibition of extra- and premarital sex. In fact, the student revolt that sparked the ferment started with a question about this by a student at the Sorbonne to a visiting government minister, who come to open the university’s swimming pool. The student also queried him about the university’s rules against male students entering the women’s halls. Well, as the poet once said, sexual intercourse was invented in 1963.

As for the institutions that should be used by the workers to govern politically and manage industry, there seems to have been a difference of ideas. Some, like the Dutch astronomer and Marxist Pannekoek, argued for worker’s councils like the German Raterevolution of 1919. Others refused to speculate, except to state that they should be created by the workers in response to the conditions of the time and the situations they were faced with. Regarding the conduct of the strikes, these were carried out through workers’ meetings on the shop floor, who would then elect a strike committee that would then take their grievances and demands to management. Some observers felt that this harked back to France’s native socialist and revolutionary traditions that predated Marx. The shop floor meetings were, in their view, related to that of the sections during the French Revolution.

Apart from these political and industrial ideas and aspirations, there were also a set of revolutionary ideas about the proper reform of the arts. These looked back to the attacks on official art by the Dadaists and Surrealists, but felt that they had failed in their mission to create an anti-art. They therefore looked forward to a new, revolutionary society in which everyone would be an artist or a poet.

Well, the revolutionary agitation passed with the sixties and first years of the 1970s. Wheen seems to suggest that it ended when one group was about to bomb a millionaire’s yacht but finally drew back. Nevertheless, the terrorism carried on over this side of La Manche with the IRA in Northern Ireland and in Britain by the Angry Brigade, an anarchist group. In France the anarchists, syndicalists and Anarcho-Syndicalists were largely excluded from the revolutionary movement. Some of this was due to the antagonism between anarchists and Marxists and to the isolation of the anarchist groups themselves. By 1968 these had declined in membership and largely confined themselves to keeping the flame alive and commemorating great anarchist revolutionaries of the past, such as the Ukrainian Nestor Makhno.

The revolutionary movement of 1968 is now over fifty years in the past, overtaken in Britain and America by Reagan and Thatcherism. These two started a political counterrevolution aimed at preventing such a situation ever happening again. The right-wing, if not reactionary philosopher, Roger Scruton, said in an interview in the Spectator that he had been a socialist. But he was in France during the revolutionary movement, and was horrified by their ‘anti-civilizational rage’. The ideologues of the period still have an influence in the radical left. People are still reading and gaining inspiration from Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, for example. I think they also exerted an influence on the anti-capitalist movement of the ‘90s and noughties. Their protests had a deliberate carnivalesque aspect, with costumed marches, puppets and so on, which seems to have drawn on the ideas of the Situationists and other revolutionaries.

I strongly believe, however, that the leftist rejection of the family has had a profoundly negative effect on western society. The Tory right loathes Roy Jenkins because of the socially liberal legislation he introduced in the late 60s Labour government. This decriminalised homosexuality and made divorce easier. Jenkins was certainly not as socially radical as the revolutionaries across the channel. In 1982 he, Shirley Williams and David Owen left the Labour party to form the SDP on the grounds that the party under Michael Foot was now too left wing. Still, the Daily Heil once denounced him as the man who had ruined Britain. Jenkins probably had completely different motives for his legislation than the Revolutionaries. In Britain the movement for the legalisation of homosexuality had started, or at least had the support, of Winston Churchill. Churchill had been worried about the danger of gay ministers, civil servants and others establishment figures being blackmailed by the Soviets because of their sexuality. As for divorce, I think this came from the humane desire to stop people being trapped in unhappy, loveless marriages, especially to brutal, violent partners. John Mortimer in his one-man show in the ‘90s recalled that before Jenkins’ reforms, the only cause for divorce was adultery. There was one man, who was so desperate to divorce his wife, that he came home in different hats so that people would think she was being unfaithful.

Unfortunately, there were radical activists, hostile to the institution of marriage and the traditional family. I can remember a pair who turned up on an edition of the lunchtime magazine programme Pebble Mill in the 1970s to present their views, much to the disgust of many of the programmes’ viewers. The result has been a rise in fatherless families. I am very much aware than many unmarried mothers have done an excellent job of raising their children, but the general picture is grim. Children from fatherless homes perform less well at school and get poorer, lower-paid jobs. They are more likely to turn to crime, do drugs and engage in promiscuous sex. Many Black activists are particularly concerned about this and the way these issues are especially acute in their community.

As for workers’ control, I would love a degree of it introduced into industry, but not to the exclusion of parliamentary democracy. And while the radicals have a point in that trade unions hierarchies have frequently acted to stifle revolutionary activism by the workers, trade unionism as a whole was tarnished by the wildcat strikes that broke out against the wishes of the union leadership. It’s resulted in the caricature of union activism presented by the Tories in which Britain was held hostage to the union barons and its economy and industry weakened by their strikes. We desperately need a revival of trade union power to protect workers, especially with Sunak and the rest of them preparing to scrap the EU legislation protecting workers’ rights.

And with an ever-growing number of people in Britain relying on food banks to stave off starvation, because the Tories have wrecked the welfare state, we’ve gone back to the early conditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when trade unionism and other forms of working class activism are very much a matter of survival.

On the plus side, I think the revolutionary movement has left a tradition of radical working class activism, which is no longer confined to either left or right. French working people seem much less willing to put up with government dictates than Brits, as shown in the Yellow Vest protests and the marches and riots against Macron raising the official retirement age. This has been admired by many Brits, including YouTube commenters and people on talk show phone-ins. We really need some of that spirit over this side of the Channel.

There is no doubt, from the position of democratic socialism, that the radicals went too far. Nevertheless, the continue to inspire members of the radical left with rather more moderate aims now protesting against predatory, exploitative capitalism, the exploitation of the environment, and racism, although this is not an issue that the book considers. Nevertheless, it was there, at least in the views and campaigns of post-structuralist Marxist activists.

Momentum Warn Starmer that Purging the Left Could Cost Him Voters

May 23, 2023

I’ve just found this piece from the I by Chloe Chaplain reporting that Momentum have warned Starmer that he could lose votes from purging his party’s left and pointing to their own electoral successes to show that Labour can still win with left-wing policies. He’s also been warned that he cannot rely on the Tories’ implosion to secure a Labour victory.

Purging the left and ditching socialism could see Labour lose voters, Sir Keir Starmer warned

Sir Keir Starmer has been warned he risks alienating core Labour voters who could stay home and not vote if he turns his back on socialism ahead of the general election.

The left of his party are pointing their own local election successes as evidence that a radical agenda can be attractive to voters. And others are warning Sir Keir of the danger of losing out to apathy.

The Labour leader has made a considerable shift to the centre since taking charge, with appeals to former Tory voters who could be tempted to swing to his party. In doing so, he has pulled power away from the vocal left-wing of his party that had dominated under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.

As the general election draws closer, and with Labour’s final policy agenda being drawn up, left wing campaigners and MPs are pushing to stop the leadership turning its back entirely on pledges they argue are very popular among voters.

The campaign group Momentum argues that the results in the local elections, which saw the Labour pick up a handful of significant councils but remain short of a majority in several target areas, prove Sir Keir cannot rely on the implosion of the Tory vote along to win a majority in the Commons.

It cites the Labour administration in Worthing, West Sussex – where Momentum co-chair Hilary Schan was elected as a councillor – and successes in Broxtow, Nottinghamshire, and Preston, Lancashire as examples of a socialist policy platform winning votes. They argue that, if he continues on his current path of “purging” left-wing candidates and policies he could lose support in areas like these.

Ms Schan said the three authorities were a “a living, breathing demonstration that there is no trade-off between electability and transformative policies”.

“As a general election closes in, the Labour leadership has a chance to lay out a bold programme to fix the Tories’ broken Britain. Choosing to instead pursue yet more purges and division will only weaken our electoral coalition and damage prospects of a Labour majority,” she said.’

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/purging-the-left-and-ditching-socialism-could-see-labour-lose-voters-sir-keir-starmer-warned/ar-AA1byC1M?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=1184f029167a4c0c8267ef811cf5256a&ei=50

I’m glad this is being pointed out to Starmer and that it’s got what appears to be a neutral report in the I. As opposed to the right-wing press, which will probably report this with headlines screaming that it’s another attempt by Corbynite anti-Semitic Trots to keep their hold on Labour. But I have absolutely no doubt that Starmer won’t listen, and will carry on purging the left.

As for New Labour’s right-wing policies appealing to Tory voters, this needs to be qualified. The public ownership campaign group We Own It has cited statistics again and again showing that the British public, including a majority of Tory voters, want the utilities taken back into public ownership. What is stopping this isn’t public opinion but Thatcherite ideology and the media and political establishment, which will seek to demonise and undermine any politician that seeks to press for such policies.

BBC Launches Fact Checking and Verification Service – But Can We Trust It?

May 22, 2023

Okay, I just caught the announcement on today’s midday news that the Beeb has launched a fact checking and verification service. I didn’t quite catch all of the announcement, but I think there was something about the war in Ukraine. Assuming that this was part of the same announcement rather than a separate news item about the war, it may have been related to the conflicting claims yesterday made by Russia and Ukraine about Bakhmut. The Russians claimed they had taken the town, while the Ukrainians denied it. The BBC seemed to be saying that this new service would be able to cut through such confusion. The Beeb also announced a few years ago that they were going to launch a service aimed at checking and rebutting the fake news coming out of the internet. The announcement today seems to suggest that they’ve finally completed setting the service up. Events have moved on a bit since then, and internet fake news and the ‘alternative facts’ put out by Donald Trump aren’t such a pressing issue on the public mind. They’ve therefore decided to announce its launch with a more topical question, such as who’s telling the truth about the war in Ukraine.

But can the Beeb itself be trusted? One of the right-wing news outlets – I can’t remember which one – said that Britain had one of the very lowest rates of public trust in the news in the world. Only 13 per cent of us, according to polls, supposedly believe the newspapers. I think the amount of trust in the Beeb might by higher, but it seems to me that this will also have been hit by allegations by the Tories about left-wing bias, particularly over Brexit. But the BBC has shown several times to people on the left that it can’t be trusted. It wholeheartedly took part in the mass demonization of Jeremy Corbyn as an evil anti-Semite. And I particularly remember the way it blatantly edited and censored Alex Salmond during the referendum a few years ago on Scottish independence. Their correspondent, Nick Robinson, had asked Salmond if he was afraid that the Scottish financial firms, located in Edinburgh, would move south if Scotland became independent. Salmon answered that they’d gone into that, and the firms wouldn’t. This clip was gradually edited during the day so that first it appeared that Salmond hadn’t given a satisfactory answer, and then that he ignored the question altogether.

And part of the problem isn’t what the Beeb or the rest of the lamestream media tells you, but what they don’t. Like the Maidan Revolution that toppled the pro-Russian Ukrainian president eleven years ago and started the path to the current war wasn’t a spontaneous, popular uprising, but carefully stage-managed by Hillary Clinton and her deputy Victoria Nuland in the state department with the cooperation of the National Endowment for Democracy. Other lowlights that found their way into the alternative media were reports that Clinton and Nuland had been recorded discussing whether or not they wanted the boxer-turned-politico Klyuchko in the Ukrainian cabinet. The gruesome twosome were also recorded lamenting that they hadn’t rigged the Palestinian elections, thus allowing the Palestinians to elect a Hamas government.

Today’s announcement is no doubt intended to reinforce the Beeb’s image as a source of unbiased, objective news. Certainly, that’s the image the corporation likes to project of itself. A few years ago, there was an advert for the Beeb’s news programmes which stated that the Beeb was listened to all over the world, especially in countries with authoritarian and dictatorial governments. The people in these countries trusted it to give them the real news that was being suppressed or distorted by their official news agencies.

Except I think it may be too late for that. The Beeb has shown itself too biased, too untrustworthy too often. You’re far better off getting information from the left-wing alternative internet channels like Novara Media and OpenDemocracy. The internet is notorious for the amount of rubbish, fake news and conspiracy theories circulating on it. But sometimes it’s more truthful than the mainstream news. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the fake news the Beeb will now claim to have checked and refuted is actually truthful, but needs to be discredited because it doesn’t fit the establishment agenda.

Tomiwa Owolade States Salman Rushdie Was Right About Growing Threat to Free Speech

May 18, 2023

There’s an interesting opinion piece in today’s Evening Standard by the author Tomiwa Owolade. He was talking about the British book awards, which he attended on Monday, and the appearance there via video link by Salman Rushdie. Rushdie, remember, had suffered a near-fatal attack by an Islamist fanatic at a literary gathering in America back in August last year. Rushdie’s voice was hoarse, and the video accompanying the article shows him wearing spectacles with one lens blacked out, which were a result of his injuries sustained in the attack. But what impressed Owolade was that he didn’t talk about his own 30-year period hiding from murderous fanatics like his attempted assassin. He was receiving the Freedom to Publish Award, sponsored by the Index on Censorship. Rushdie didn’t talk about others who were suffering imprisonment and death for their writing, and didn’t mention authoritarian states like Russia, China, North Korea or Saudi Arabia. He spoke about the rising level of censorship in the supposedly liberal west, among nations that pride themselves on their tradition of freedom of speech.

“The freedom to publish,” Rushdie said, “is also the freedom to read. And the ability to write what you want.” But this conviction is now being weakened: “We live in a moment, I think, at which freedom of expression and freedom to publish has not in my lifetime been under such threat in the countries of the West.”

This is not a problem that’s confined to the political Right or Left. Rushdie mentioned the “extraordinary attack on libraries and books for children in schools” in the US. A recent report by PEN America has found that book bans are rapidly rising in the US.

Across the country, novels by distinguished authors such as Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood have been banned in schools and libraries. Rushdie argued that this constitutes an “attack on the ideas of libraries themselves.”

But he also described as “alarming” the trend where “publishers bowdlerise the work of such people as Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming.” This is where editors are trying to ‘update’ novels by dead authors by removing or replacing offensive words or phrases. Rushdie argued that “the idea that James Bond could be made politically correct is almost comical.”’

Owolade concludes:

‘Rushdie viscerally understands the severe end of censorship; he has been nearly murdered for writing a book. But he is also rightly cognisant of, and opposed to, the milder threats. Because he recognises that the two ends are interlinked: once we accept that some books should not be allowed to be published, or read, or should have their content suppressed or bowdlerised in any other way, we accept the logic of those who think freely producing such books is a crime worthy of prison or death.’

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/opinion-salman-rushdie-was-right-to-warn-us-about-a-slippery-slope-on-free-speech/ar-AA1bm5Wk?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=b69b4d8033f74291ba9ae83adeb40dac&ei=26

I entirely agree with the article and Rushdie, which rather surprises me. I’m not a fan of his, and I honestly don’t think the Satanic Verses should have been published. There were three internal messages in Viking Penguin at the time advising against publishing it because it would upset Muslim opinion. I haven’t read the book, but people I know who have, including a lecturer in Islam, have assured me that it isn’t blasphemous. However, there’s something to about it in National Lampoon’s Book of Sequels that while it’s made clear that the book isn’t blaspheming Mohammed or the other principal figures of Islam on page 50, the book is so grindingly dull that no one ever makes it that far. The fatwa placed on Rushdie was a noxious piece of opportunism by the Ayatollah Khomeini, who wanted an issue he could exploit that would allow him to wrest leadership of the Islamic world away from the Saudis. The publication of the Satanic Verses came at exactly the right time, and so you had the rancid spectacle of mass book burnings in Bradford, Kalim Saddiqui telling his flock that ‘Britain is a monstrous killing machine and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’, and a demented Pakistani film in which Rushdie is a CIA agent, whose career undermining Islam is ended when God whacks him with the lightning bolt.

But we do have creeping, intolerant censorship in the west and it isn’t confined to either the left and right. I’m very much aware of the purging of radical authors, and particularly LGBTQ+ material from American libraries. I’m also not a fan of the Bowdlerisation of writers like Dahl and Fleming because they’re deemed to be offensive to modern sensibilities. The term ‘Bowdlerise’ is particularly interesting. It comes from the name of a puritanical Victorian publisher, who produced a suitable censored children’s edition of Shakespeare with all the Bard’s smut and innuendo cut out. I’m also concerned at the way publishers, students and lobby groups are trying to stifle the publication of works on such controversial topics as the trans issue and ban their writers from speaking in public or holding academic posts.

A recent example of this has been Oxford University Student Union’s reaction to gender critical feminist philosopher Kathleen Stock speaking at the Oxford Union. There were protests by the Student Union against her appearance as well as attempts to sabotage it by block-booking seats so that they wouldn’t be available to those who really wanted to hear her. She’s been denounced as hateful, people have declared they feel unsafe after her appearance, and the SU has cut its connection with the debating society. They therefore won’t be allowed to appear at fresher’s fairs and other Student Union sponsored events. The SU is also offering support to people traumatised by her appearance.

This is in response to a feminist intellectual who simply does not share the opinion that transwomen are women. Controversial, yes, but not hateful. What makes this affair ridiculous is that there have been real, noxious figures from the Fascist right who have spoken at the Oxford Union and suffered no such attack by the Student Union. People like Nick Griffin, the former head of the BNP, and the Holocaust Denier David Irving. If anybody deserves mass protests against them, and who really would make people feel understandably unsafe, it’s those two. I can’t imagine how Jews and non-Whites would feel in their presence, especially given the BNP’s history of violence against them. But they were allowed to speak at the Oxford Union, albeit to the surprise and disgust of many.

Rushdie’s right about free speech coming under attack in the liberal west. And the Tories, and particularly the Nat Cons are part of this. They’ve passed legislation severely restricting the right to protest and to strike, as well as the legislation providing for secret courts. And I don’t see Starmer changing this legislation, not when he said that laws like the Crime and Policing Act need time to bed in.

We really do need to wake up this threat, and that this isn’t a partisan issue if we’re going to defend freedom of speech and debate.

IEA Now Promoting Anarcho-Capitalism

May 10, 2023

How much further can the IEA go in its desire to end government interference? From what I’ve just come across on YouTube, all the way to Rothbard and anarcho-capitalism. I came across a video this afternoon from IEA London in which they interview someone about this form of anarcho-individualism.

The IEA are a hard right, Thatcherite bunch who’ve been advocating extreme free market economics since the 1970s. They believe in complete privatisation, including that of the NHS and the reduction of the welfare state, if not its complete abolition. Usually people who hold this ideology call themselves Libertarians or, more recently, Classical Liberals. They’re fans of von Hayek and Milton Friedman and believe that by going back to the complete laissez-faire capitalism of the early 19th century business will become more efficient and people freer and more prosperous. Which is why Friedman used to go on trips to Chile to see how his ideas were working out under that notorious advocate for personal freedom, General Pinochet. Because people wouldn’t democratically vote for the destruction of the welfare state, and so this could only be done by a dictator. The American Libertarians also weren’t averse to collaborating with real fascists and Nazis. One issue of their wretched magazine in the ’70s contained a number of articles by them and real anti-Semites denying the Holocaust. It was part of their campaign to discredit F.D. Roosevelt and his legacy. Roosevelt’s New Deal created the American welfare state. He was also the president that brought American into World War II. World War II is regarded as a just war. In order to discredit Roosevelt and thus the American welfare state, they wanted to destroy the notion of the battle against Nazism as a noble conflict. And so the goose-steppers were given their free hand to publish their malign nonsense in their pages. Then, when Reagan was elected in 1980s, they got a president who believed what they did, and so didn’t need the Nazis anymore. That infamous episode in their history was quietly forgotten.

And now the IEA are going from minarchism – the belief in a minimal state – to outright anarchism. Anarcho-capitalism wants the abolition of the state and its replacement by corporations. This includes police and the courts. The police would be replaced by private security guards, while the courts would also operate as private corporations. This, of course, causes problems. In a society without the state to enforce justice, why would any criminal submit themselves to the judgement of private courts with no power to enforce their decisions? They argue that competition by the courts to give the fairest decisions would result in criminals submitting to the same courts in the understand that they, and the other criminals, would all receive fair and just treatment and so order would be preserved. Which is real, wishful thinking.

Ordinary, Thatcherite free-market economics don’t work. Privatisation has not increased investment in the utilities, but left them in a worse mess. The gradual erosion of the welfare state has just increased poverty, not made people more entrepreneurial and self-reliant. Nor has led to a revival of charity in quite the manner Thatcher expected, although I’d guess that she, like Jacob Reet Snob, would point to food banks as a sign of its success. Liz Truss’ and her cabinet were all true-blue followers of Tufton Street free market ideas, with very many of them members of various right-wing think tanks, including the IEA. The result was that she nearly destroyed the British economy and had to be given the heave-ho. Despite this, she still thinks she was right. A week or so ago she was giving a talk in America in which she blamed her defenestration on ‘left-wing activists’. This is the rest of the Tory party she’s talking about. As Frankie Howerd used to say, ‘Oh, she’s off again. Oh, don’t mock. It’s rude to mock the afflicted.’ But it seems that ordinary libertarianism isn’t enough for some in the IEA, and that some of them have an interest in privatising the state itself.

If this was ever put into practice, it would result in a dystopia straight from 90s era science fiction, like the decaying Detroit of Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop but without the cyborg policeman to fight crime and bring down the corporate bad guys.

David Lammy Tells Britain Labour Will Not Repeal Tory Legislation. Why Vote for Them Then?

May 9, 2023

David Lammy was on LBC Radio yesterday, and gave an answer to an interview question that left many listeners stunned. Kernow Damo has put up a piece about it on his vlog, as has Maximilien Robespierre, the smooth-voiced Irish vlogger. The Met’s heavy-handed policing of the Coronation and its arrest of 62 anti-monarchy protesters, simply for protesting, has raised questions about both the Met’s conduct and the Tory legislation allowing them to clamp down so hard on peaceful protesters. People are concerned about the draconian laws curbing protests and strikes. Lammy was asked if Labour intended to repeal this legislation. ‘No,’ he said, ‘because otherwise we’d spend all our time just repealing Tory legislation.’ This left Robespierre thoroughly gobsmacked. Because people are voting Labour in the hope that they’ll revrerse the Tory legislation allowing the water companies to dump raw sewage into our waterways and seas, stop the running down of the NHS, the impoverishment our great, hard–pressed and underappreciated working people. Now Lammy says that Labour doesn’t intend to do any of that. Robespierre raises the obvious point that this is a strange attitude for a party whose electoral line is that people should vote for them because they aren’t the Conservatives.

But I think this attitude is part and parcel of Starmer’s return to Blairism. Blair was a Thatcherite, who went further in the privatisation of the NHS and reforming – read: cutting back even further – the welfare state than the Tories themselves. One of the criticisms of Blair’s and Brown’s governments was that New Labour really didn’t differ at all from the Conservatives. They just promoted themselves on being able to implement the same wretched policies better and more efficiently. And in the case of the ‘welfare to work’ legislation, in which benefit claimants only got their welfare cheque if they did mandatory voluntary work for grasping, exploitative charities like Tomorrow’s People or the big supermarkets, Blair spun a profoundly reactionary policy introduced by Reagan’s Republicans in America and mooted by Thatcher over here as somehow left-wing and radical. It was all part of Blair’s New Deal, a modern version of Roosevelt’s make-work schemes during the Depression. The result of New Labour’s shameless emulation of the Tories was that an increasingly large part of the electorate stopped voting. They felt that it didn’t matter who you voted for, because they were all the same. Corbyn offered some escape from this electoral trap by promoting socialist policies. Hence the screams from the establishment both inside and outside the party that he was a Commie, Trotskyite anti-Semite. Because you can’t have someone offering the proles something that will actually benefit them.

And now it seems it’s back to business as usual under Starmer.

And the return to Blairism is already having the effect it previously had on the electorate. The Tories took a hammering at the local elections, and has naturally been held as an historic win by Stalin. Except that it was more a comment on how the electorate was fed up with the Tories than an overwhelming victory for Labour. According to some experts, by this measure Labour will be 28 seats short of a majority at the next general election. I seem also to recall polls that indicated that while people liked Labour, they didn’t like Starmer and didn’t think he was anywhere near as good a leader as whoever was the Tory prime minister at the time. And it’s obvious to see why. Starmer is deeply treacherous and untrustworthy, ditching nearly every pledge and promise he declared he believed in. He has done everything he could to purge the left with the usual smears of anti-Semitism. But his personal performance against the Tories has been dismal. For a long time he offered no alternative policies. His tactics seemed to be to wait for the Tories’ own failures and duplicity to catch up with them and then hope that the proles would vote Labour as the only alternative. This seems to have worked to a certain extent, but it also shows that the same tactics is failing to energise any enthusiasm for a Labour government. In fact, it’s put many people off.

Not that this necessarily bothers Starmer. As we’ve seen from the various coups and plots against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour right would prefer to destroy Labour than accept any return to socialism.

Private Eye Declares Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn Anti-Semites and Announces Labour Witch-Hunters After John McDonnell

May 5, 2023

I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Private Eye. Mostly I like it, but today I find myself wishing there was another satirical magazine around, one that wasn’t captured by the political-media complex. One that genuinely was subversive, crusading and really brought you the news that the papers and the lamestream media wouldn’t, and didn’t want you to know about. Because Private Eye is establishment. Its founders were all public schoolboys, as is its current editor, Ian Hislop. And yesterday it showed.

It ran an article on the imminent departure from politics of Diane Abbott for her letter to the Absurder stating that Jews don’t experience racism, and when they do, it’s like the prejudice against people with ginger hair. Unlike Blacks, who were enslaved and forced to the back of the bus under segregation. She ignored the Holocaust and the fact that across parts of Europe and America various institutions, like the universities, set limits on the number of Jews they would take in case they became dominated by Jews. I’ve also heard from people of Jewish heritage that California at one time wouldn’t allow Jews to own property. Abbott is completely wrong, as she’s been told by everyone.

I don’t believe, though, that Abbott is an anti-Semite. She just doesn’t believe anyone except people of colour, and that means primarily Blacks, suffer racism. And she doesn’t want racism by non-White ethnic groups discussed, because ‘they’ would use it to ‘divide and rule’. Aside from which, as Tony Greenstein has shown citing the stats, there isn’t a lot of anti-Semitism amongst severely normal Brits. 77 per cent of British people have positive views of the Jews. Five per cent hate them, and the reminder don’t care one way or another. Given those stats, it’s easy to see how she forgot about the real persecution Jews have historically suffered.

But this was not enough for the writer of the article on Abbott’s coming fall. The anonymous author, styling himself ‘Steeplejack’, said that her views were normal for Corbyn and his faction. He then quoted some Communist who said that Corbyn never really sympathised with the Jews because of their wealth. Okay, according to the stats 60 per cent of British Jews are upper-middle class. This section of the Jewish community doesn’t vote Labour. They’re Conservatives, as shown by Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, nipping round to No. 10 to congratulate Tweezer on her elevation to Prime Minister. The liberal parts of the community generally vote Lib Dem, according to the same stats, with only a few voting Labour. And some parts of the Jewish community are very right-wing, like the two per cent who voted for the National Front in the 1970s. ‘Steeplejack’s’ article believed that it was quite right that Abbott was going to be retired and that Corbyn had been effectively purged from the party, and ended with the announcement that they were coming after John McDonnell next.

You’ll note that at no time does the article mention that Corbyn had and continues to have the strong support of that part of the Jewish community that hasn’t become entranced by the Tories. They didn’t quote anyone from Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas or the Jewish Socialist Group. Because they are the wrong sort of Jews. They’re all evil self-haters and anti-Semites because they support him and criticise Israel. They didn’t go to Shraga Stern for comment, who welcomed Corbyn into his synagogue. Stern’s a Haredi Jew. Their theology holds that Israel will only be restored with the return of the messiah. Until then, Jews should stay patiently in exile, working for the good of the wider community. The Haredi community has a strong respect for Corbyn as he stood by them when they opposed the commercial development of their historic cemetery. But again, the wrong sort of Jews.

Now we come to the question of the identity of ‘Steeplejack’. The last of the Eye’s correspondents pushing this nonsense was outed as a Blairite Guardian hack. I don’t know who this guy is, but the pseudonym suggests he fancies himself in the mould of Fred Dibnah, the steeplejack and broadcaster. Dibnah was very good at explaining industrial history and Britain heritage of invention, but he had very reactionary views. He didn’t believe that women should go out to work, for example. ‘Steeplejack’s’ monicker suggests he is similarly right-wing, though probably not to that extent. And he’s almost certainly another establishment journalist.

Which is what is wrong with Private Eye. You get the views of the lamestream media. It’s critical, but only up to a certain extent. The magazine thus pushed the line that Starmer was an anti-Semite for all it could, because that was what the establishment was saying, and the magazine and its editor and contributors shared the same fears of a socialist revival. It also won’t tell you that the current Ukrainian president, Volodomyr Zelensky, is a quasi-dictator very much in the same mould as Putin. Because Zelensky’s on our side against Russia, and so the people must not know that the Orange Revolution was stage managed by Obama’s Victoria Nuland at the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy. Private Eye aren’t anti-establishment, just a slightly critical section of it.

John McDonnell and the Socialist group of MPs are one of the very few things keeping me in the Labour party. And now it’s clear Starmer wants to purge them, with the support of the media and goblins like Private Eye.

Another Attack on Labour Democracy as Starmer Bans Anti-Monarchist Group from Affiliating to Constituency Labour Parties

May 5, 2023

The Guardian posted a piece yesterday reporting that our shambolic, authoritarian leader in the Labour party has purged yet another group. Starmer seems to be trying to steal some of the Tories’ clothes as the leader of a patriotic party. Under Maggie Thatcher, the Tories draped themselves in all the imagery of traditional British patriotism – Union flags, references to Maggie’s hero, Winston Churchill and the Second World War. The 1987 Conservative general election film featured black and white footage of Spitfires zooming around while an excited voice declared ‘It’s great, to be great again’. Except she didn’t make us great. She nearly wrecked the country economically and institutionally while declaring she was. Starmer’s clearly seen how that worked, and wants to do it for the Labour party. Hence photos of him stood with a Union flag parked in a corner somewhere.

Now he’s passed another internal regulation preventing constituency Labour parties from affiliating to the anti-monarchist group, Republic. He justified this by stating that he was a patriot, and that was why he believed in a series of left-wing policies. Well, for now, at least, until he’s told otherwise by Murdoch or his donors. But the same could be said of Republic. Patriotism could be construed as wanting the very best for one’s country. If you adopt that point of view, then Republic are patriots in that they believe the country can be improved by ditching the monarchy.

But who are Republic anyway?

I admit, I’m a royalist, and so I don’t know anything about republican and anti-monarchist movements. The last such organisation I heard about was MAM – the Movement Against the Monarchy, who came and protested the Maundy Thursday service in which the Queen dispensed Maundy money several years ago at Bristol cathedral. I hadn’t even heard of Republic until Starmer acted and the Groan reported the issue. My guess Starmer is afraid that Labour would get embroiled in any controversy that flares up about the planned anti-monarchist demonstrations at the coronation tomorrow if it’s found that these organisations are connected to the Labour party in some way. But it’s still an attack on Labour grassroots democracy.

I realise many people, especially the older generation, strongly object to anti-monarchist demonstrations. This was especially true of the older generation who fought and served in the Second World War. Several of Mum’s older friends had done so, and had the privilege of receiving the Maundy money from Her Maj several decades ago. They were bitterly disgusted by the demonstration by MAM. But democracy says you tolerate opposing viewpoints. You might find Republic deeply offensive, but that shouldn’t deny individual parties the right to affiliate them. That’s their business, not Starmer’s. Although he did justify it by saying it was just putting into action regulations passed two years ago preventing local Labour parties from affiliating to organisations proscribed by the NEC. And boy, is there a list! It includes Jewish Voice for Labour, Sikhs for Labour, pro-Palestinian groups and so on. Any group that gives David Evans a fit of the vapours and causes Thatcherite apparatchiks to clutch their pearls.

There have always been anti-monarchists in the Labour party. When Clement Attlee and the great Labour government of 1948 came to power, the saw themselves in the tradition of a long series of working class radicals like Tom Paine, the author of Common Sense, which argued against the monarchy and aristocracy and supported the American Revolution. Back in the 1980s there was Willie Hamilton, who hated the monarchy as well as much of the British establishment. I remember all the jokes about him. On one of the Saturday morning radio panel shows, the contestants were asked to guess what was happening from a sound clue. You heard a swishing sound, then a scream. The panel’s fun answer was ‘the Queen knighting Willie Hamilton’. I haven’t heard of Republic, I haven’t heard of anyone affiliating to Republic, and I haven’t heard of anyone being put off voting Labour by Republic. I guess some of the radical London councils may have, but they’ve hardly caused a national panic.

This is Starmer trying to turn the Labour party into the Tories Mark 2. It’s more proof that he’s an authoritarian who’s totally unfit to rule. If does this in Labour, what will he do in government?