Posts Tagged ‘Thatcherism’

Article Supporting Mike by Labour Party Marxists

November 24, 2018

One of the groups opposing the anti-Semitism witch hunt in the Labour party is Labour Party Marxists. I think that Moshe Machover, the very respected Israeli academic, activist and defender of the Palestinians may be a member. Machover was one of those the Blairites and the Israeli lobby tried to throw out as an anti-Semite, before being faced with such massive condemnation from the party’s membership that they had to eat humble pie and reverse their decision. Machover is a man of immense integrity, who should never have been smeared, and it is absolutely right that the apparatchiks who did so should have been forced to rescind their decision. Unfortunately, there are thousands of others, who have not been so lucky to have the support he has.

Mike’s case is discussed in a long article posted on November 15 attacking the witch-hunt and its smears and victimization of a number of innocent, decent people, entitled ‘Anti-Zionism and Self-Censorship’. Mike has a section specifically dedicated to his case in the middle of the article. It begins

The case against Mike Sivier is intriguing, because he seems absolutely right when he claims that there is precious little evidence that supports his expulsion from the party. Even those claiming that Sivier is clearly anti-Semitic and have written long articles about his case cannot actually produce any real proof. In a piece entitled The ballad of Mike Sivier, the hostile author, Marlon Solomon, draws a long list of examples of Sivier’s ‘crimes’ – which basically amount to the fact that he was defending various people falsely accused of anti-Semitism.

The article discusses how Mike supported Ken Livingstone’s remarks about the Ha’avara agreement between the Nazis and Zionists, supported Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, and urged people to watch Al-Jazeera’s The Lobby, which exposed how the Israel lobby had manufactured the anti-Semitism ‘scandal’ in the Labour party.

Marlon Solomon, the writer of the nasty little piece attacking Mike, whines that “none of the above is now considered sufficient to expel someone from the Labour Party”. To which the writer of the article responds ‘ Quite right – it should not be’. It then goes on to note how Mike won a press complaint in August, 2018, against the Jewish Chronicle, which had smeared him as a Holocaust denier. It also notes how in February that same year the NEC had voted to lift Mike’s suspension if he underwent anti-Semitism training by the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. Mike refused on the grounds that this would constitute a tacit admission of guilt, and the article agrees with his decision, stating that it is to his credit. The article then states that the NEC didn’t know what to do about Mike, and so passed his case on to the NCC.

The article states that Mike had no chance in front of this panel, as it’s dominated by the right. Its membership has been expanded from 11 to 25, and the article predicts that the six candidates put up by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy will probably win. But they will still me a minority, and the only member of the NCC to come out against the witch hunt is Stephen Marks of Jewish Voice for Labour. It goes on to state that the NCC, chaired by right-wing witch-hunter Maggie Cousins, voted to expel him on November 13th for 18 months, but still could provide no proof that he was an anti-Semite. The article states

As he writes on his blog, his requests to produce actual evidence were rebutted with “No comment”; “We’ve not provided evidence – it’s about the impact in the public domain”; and “This is about perception … It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

They conclude

In other words, he has been expelled because his refusal to receive pro-Zionist training by the JLM makes the Labour Party look bad! This expulsion is clearly a travesty and should immediately be overturned by the NEC.

The article then moves on to discuss another case, that of Peter Gregson in the Edinburgh Labour Party, who is under investigation for writing a pamphlet entitled Israel Is A Racist Endeavour. It also describes the whole process of framing the charges against the accused, which begins by sending them a list of leading questions, and attacks the intervention by Momentum’s head, Jon Lansman, against Gregson, as well as other aspects of the witch hunt.

The article notes that since Jennie Formby took over, the mass suspensions carried out under Ian McNichol appear to have stopped. However, the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism won’t bring this disgraceful affair to a close, but will only expand the means available to the right to accuse decent people of anti-Semitism. As its adoption was intended to.

It also discusses the protests by the local Jewish Society in Sheffield when Sheffield Labour Students invited Chris Williamson MP to talk to them. The delicate souls in the JSoc got all flustered because Williamson still associates with Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Tony Greenstein, whom they have smeared as anti-Semites, and so declare that Mr. Williamson must also be one by association.

There is much more in the article, which is worth reading in its entirety. Go to:http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/anti-zionism-and-self-censorship/

I am very glad that there is one section of the Labour party that is very firmly against this completely specious and fraudulent smear of Mike and all the other decent, anti-racist people – people like Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni, Cyril Chilson and so many others, as well Jewish Voice for Labour. These last have also brought down upon themselves the fury of an utterly corrupt Conservative establishment and media, including the Jewish press and Board of Deputies, for the anti-Semitic reason that they’re ‘the wrong type of Jews’.

As for Solomon and his wretched article, there are links to it in the piece by Labour Party Marxists but I deliberately didn’t read it because I knew it would only infuriate me. Of course Solomon doesn’t have any evidence that Mike’s an anti-Semite. There isn’t any because Mike isn’t. Never has been, never will be. But Solomon and his cronies, however, are thugs, bully-boys and bug-eyed racist fanatics with odious dreams of cleansing Israel of its indigenous Arabs – who have been Jewish, Muslim and Christian – and, as Tony Greenstein has shown in a recent article, are now trying to ban intermarriage between Jewish and Arab Israelis. Just like the Nazis banned marriages between ‘Aryans’ and Jews and other peoples they judged racially inferior, like Poles. And so the Zionists in this country ally themselves with other, gentile Nazi thugs like the EDL and Britain First in this country, and the Alt-Right in the US.

Mike and the others smeared by the racists of the Blairites and Israel lobby should be immediately reinstated and given groveling apologies by the party, as well as the press and media that have been complicit in this. And Cousins and the other witch-hunters themselves should face charges for racism, Thatcherite entryism and bringing the party into disrepute.

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Radio 4 Series of Political Interviews Next Week with Nick Robinson

October 23, 2018

According to the Radio Times for next week, 27th October to 2nd November 2018, Radio 4 are broadcasting a series of 1/4 hour interviews with various politicos daily, from Monday to Friday. The show’s hosted by the Macclesfield Goebbels, Nick Robinson. They’re on a 1.45 pm.

The first, on Monday, is with Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

Tuesday’s edition has him talking to the general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey, who talks not just about his political beliefs, but also his love of poetry and the end of a friendship.

On Wednesday he talks to Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Thursday it’s Andrea Leadsom.

And it concludes, on Friday, with Tony Blair.

The only one I would really like to listen to is Len McCluskey. Tom Watson could be interesting, if it reveals just why he’s spent the last three years or so trying to undermine his leader and shore up a dying and murderous neoliberalism in the party’s ranks. Truss and Leadsom don’t interest me at all, and I think listening to them will only annoy me. As probably would the edition with Watson. And I’m sure Tony Blair’s interview would make me incandescent with rage about what he’s done to this country, the Middle East, and how the arrogant, power-hungry maniac still desperately wants to return to power to make the world safe for free market capitalism and the worse for everyone else. All while simpering about how well everyone’s doing with a cheesy grin on his face.

And it hasn’t escaped me that all the politicians Robinson is talking to, with the exception of McCluskey, who’s a trade unionist, are right-wingers. Watson and Blair are Thatcherite Labour, Truss and Leadsom Tories. So in turns of political philosophy, there’s not a lot of difference between them. But there of different parties, so the Beeb can say it’s unbiased.

Afshin Rattansi on UK Army Recruitment and When Trump Was Anti-War

October 26, 2017

In this short clip from RT’s Going Underground, main man Afshin Rattansi reports on and comments on the British army’s latest attempts to recruit more squaddies, as well as the time when Donald Trump appeared to be an anti-war candidate. The clip was posted on July 15, 2017, when Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was attending an air tattoo here in the UK.

In order to find 12,000 new recruits for the army, the government started looking for them in sub-Saharan Africa. Rattansi then pointedly comments that if there are viewers from that region of the continent, from poor and starving nations like Malawi, Mozambique or Sierra Leone, and they fancy dying for Britain, they can get through to army recruitment on the following number.

He also talks about the army’s attempts to recruit child soldiers using a video, This Is Belonging. It shows one squaddy walking behind his a truck carrying a load of his mates. At first they tease him by slowing down, so that he thinks he can climb in, before speeding up and pulling slightly away. They then slow down again, he manages to climb him, and is greeted with cheers and comradely backslaps from his mates.

Rattansi discusses how this video has been criticised by an anti-war group, Child Soldier International, because it is aimed at young people aged 16-25. And in particular those from the poorest and least educated sections of society. The video is also targeted at the good folk of the northern towns, which have been hardest hit by Thatcherism.

He also quotes the response from the government’s outsourcing partner, Capita, which predictably finds nothing wrong in this.

He then goes on to say that there is evidence from America that when poor kids, like those targeted by Capita’s wretched film, do come back from fighting and dying, they vote for anti-war candidates. Like Donald Trump. ‘You do remember when Trump was anti-war, right?’ he asks. He then plays footage of Trump telling the crowd that if he gets in, he will not send any more troops to the Middle East. It’s unjust to the millions of people that’ve been killed there, as well as to America. Thanks to the wars in the Middle East, America’s roads and hospitals aren’t properly maintained. If he gets in, he’ll stop the war and spend the money on that instead.

Child Soldier International isn’t the only organisation that has expressed concern about the UK’s recruitment of child soldiers. The issue got into the papers, or at least the I a few weeks ago. We are the only nation in Europe, I believe, that recruits children of 16 years old. Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, has also posted comments talking about the concerns of peace groups about the way the British army goes into schools to recruit there.

This used to happen at my old school here in Bristol. I don’t remember it ever happening to us in the top streams, but certainly recruiting films were shown to the less bright in the lower bands. One of our art teachers, a woman of left-wing opinions, was outraged by this. Someone told me that her father had been an air-raid warden during the War, and so had seen the bits of bodies strewn amongst the rubble after a bomb strike. If that was the case, then it’s not hard to see why she hated war, and those who seduce the young into fighting in one, so much.

As for Trump, I do remember when he was anti-war. Just like he also suggested at one point he was in favour of Medicare for All. Now he’s turned out to be no such thing. It was all lies. The result has been that many of the people, who voted for him are seriously disillusioned, and this is contributing to opposition to Trump within the GOP. A few days ago I came across a video on YouTube with the title, ‘Trump Will Destroy Capitalism’. I don’t think he will, but he’s certainly doing his damnedest. And if he does destroy it, then it won’t come too soon.

Shirley Williams on Milton Friedman and the Failing of Free Market Capitalism

May 25, 2016

SWilliams Book Pic

The supposed benefits of free market capitalism and deregulation are at the heart of the ‘New Right’ doctrines expressed in Thatcherism and Blairite New Labour. Thatcher took her credulous adulation of the free market from the American Chicago school of economics, most notably von Hayek and Milton Friedman. These doctrines became New Labour orthodoxy under Tony Blair following Labour’s defeat in the 1987 general election. Despite Gordon Brown, Blair’s successor, having lost the 2010 election, and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn from the Old Labour Left as leader of the party, Thatcherite ideals are still espoused and promoted by the Blairite faction in the Progress ‘party-within-a-party’ in Labour.

Yet even at the time Thatcher was implementing the free market reforms that have devastated the British economy and society, it was obvious to the majority of people on the Left that the free market simply didn’t work. Shirley Williams, the right-wing Labour MP, who left to form the SDP with David Owen, now merged with the Liberals, was one of them. In her book, Politics Is For People (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1981), she makes the following remarks and criticisms of Friedman’s grand notions of the effectiveness of the free market.

Professor Friedman, however, overstates his case – often to a ludicrous extent. There are many needs the market is incapable of meeting, because they are collective needs – for clean water, clean air, public health, a good transport system. The market is geared to individual demands and to individual purses; in meeting them, it does not count social costs or social consequences. Furthermore, there are individual demands that cannot be made effective because the individual cannot afford to satisfy them, typically, treatment for serious illness, chronic invalidism, care in old age. The market is a mechanics ill-adapted to the cycles of an individual’s life history, which move from dependence through independence back to dependence again, and also to the cycles of the economy. In his recent book, Free to Choose, Professor Friedman asserts: ‘Sooner or later, and perhaps sooner than many of us expect, ever bigger governments will destroy both the prosperity that we care for in the free market and even the human freedom proclaimed so eloquently in the Declaration of Independence.’ In an obvious sense, the Professor must be right. Total government, controlling the whole economy, would indeed be likely to destroy both prosperity and human freedom. But again his case is hopelessly overstated. In many European countries public expenditure constitutes 40 per cent or more of the gross national product. yet who is to say that Sweden or Denmark or the Federal Republic of Germany are less prosperous and less free than Spain, Argentina or Brazil, in which a much smaller proportion of the gross national product goes into public expenditure? Indeed the extremes of income and wealth characteristic of societies dominated by free market capitalism are not conducive to human freedom or to democratic political systems. Men and women without access to decent working conditions, education, housing and health do not fully share in their society. They are not accorded the human dignity that is intrinsic to the democratic process. their opportunities and their choices are crippled by the unequal distribution of resources. Even if such as country has some form of election, ostensibly based on a universal and secret franchise, the great disparities in economic power will influence the many who are weak to bow to the wishes of the few who are strong. (PP. 16-7).

And this is exactly what has happened. Britain has become much less democratic. Our leaders are rich and middle class elitists, isolated from the mass of the working poor in their own, sealed enclaves. The poor have become much poorer, and are increasingly seeing what few rights they have left stripped from them through Cameron’s reforms of the judicial system, trade union legislation and his assault on workers’ rights. Two decades ago there was a storm when someone announced that Monetarism had failed. Friedman’s free market economics are also an abject failure. They survive only because they sustain and empower a parasitical managerial class, ruling through elite privilege and toxic capitalism. It’s high time Friedman’s discredited ideas were very firmly dumped.

The Fascist ‘Charter of Labour’ and Tory Attitudes to Work and the Banning and Control of the Unions

March 13, 2016

One of the institutions of the Italian Fascist state was the Corporations. This was partly developed from Syndicalism, the form of Anarchism that advocates the abolition of the state and the control of industry by trade unions. The Corporations in Fascist Italy were a type of giant trade union, based on the medieval guilds, which included both the trade unions and the employers’ organisations for a particular industry. Instead of parliament, there was a council of corporations, which was supposed to regulate the economy. Il Duce claimed that this was the cornerstone of the Fascist state, which had transcended both capitalism and Socialism, and had created social peace. In fact the Fascist corporations were a device used to break the power of the unions, and place them under the control of the state and the employers. The main ideological influence in their creation was that of the Nationalist, Alfredo Rocco, rather than radical National Syndicalists like Augusto Turati or Panunzio.

And so of the regulations contained in Musso’s Charter of Labour read very much like standard Tory screeds against welfare scroungers, nationalisation and the trade unions. The Fascists did indeed grant some concessions to the workers, like free Sundays, an annual paid holiday, extra pay for night work, and insurance paid both by workers and the employers.

It begins with the statement ‘Work in all its forms is a social duty’. Articles VII and IX also state ‘The Corporative State considers private enterprise in the domain of production to be the most efficient method and the most advantageous to the interests of the nation … The state intervenes in economic production only when private enterprise fails or is insufficient or when the political interests of the state are involved’. See Elizabeth Wiskemann, Fascism in Italy: Its Development and Influence (Basingstoke: MacMillan Education 1970) 23. As well as making work ‘a social duty’, the Charter also criminalised its withdrawal. Strikes and lockouts were banned under the Fascist state, and there were Labour Courts which were supposed to settled industrial disputes.

The Tories certainly have the first attitude, that work is a duty, and are doing their level best to criminalise strikes without making them illegal. Hence Cameron’s passing a law that makes a strike illegal, even if the majority of union members have voted for it, if less than half of the members of the trade union have turned up and voted. If this same principle is adopted for politics, then this government should similarly be in jail, as only about 30 per cent or so of the population actually bothered to turn out and vote. They have also voted to use agency workers to act as blacklegs in strikes, just as Mussolini supplied blacklegs in Italian strikes, and his British imitators, the British Fascisti did over here. Cameron also wanted strikers on picket lines to give their names to the police and wear armbands identifying who they were, but this was a step too far even for David Davies, who called it a ‘Francoist’ idea.

Thatcherism has been described as ‘Corporativism without the working class’, and there is more than element of truth in that. The Tory party has been drawn overwhelmingly from the upper and middle classes, including the heads of businesses, and makes no secret of being the party of business. This is when it suits them, of course. At other times, they’re claiming to be the party of the poor. Which is why Cameron, aIDS and Osbo are all pukka Eton-educated Toffs. The legislation they pass is designed to protect the businesses they run, including smashing the unions and keeping wages low to provide a constant supply of cheap, dispensable labour.

Interesting, the Charter of Labour also states that industry was only to use labour from the Fascist controlled Labour Exchanges. I’ve reblogged a piece today from Private Eye, about how the Tories stopped the JobCentres from finding jobs for people, because they were better at it than the private firms that have been set up, and whose directors no doubt donate generously to the Tory party. It also casts a different light on a jobs fair held in aIDS’ Chingford constituency the other year. This was held in the local Conservative Club, which tells you how close Chingford business is to the Tories, and ominously suggests the Tory determination to maintain outright political control of the Labour market.

The Tories got very angry indeed when one leading trade unionist compared their anti-union legislation with the Nazis, but as this shows, there are very strong comparisons with Fascist Italy as well.

Bernie Sanders’ Speech Attacking US Coups of Foreign Governments

December 29, 2015

This is a superb speech from Bernie Sanders, the Democrat’s presidential candidate. In it he states that his goal is to strengthen America at home and not concentrate on its goals abroad. He does not want to send the country’s young men and young women out to fight wars without end. He also attacks America’s history of organising coups to topple foreign regimes they do not like. He specifically mentions Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mossadeq in Iran, the 1964 coup against a liberal government in Brazil, the overthrow of Benitez in Guatemala, and Allende in Chile in the 1970s. Such actions are wrong; they have unforeseen consequences and ‘they do not work’.

Everything Senator Sanders said in this clip is absolutely correct. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq has just destabilised the country, and facilitated the rise of ISIS and other groups hostile to America and the other regimes in the region. The CIA’s overthrow of premier Mossadeq in Iran led to the assumption of absolute power by the Shah. His regime was so brutal it was ultimately overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution. And it need not be stressed how anti-American that regime is. And Britain can’t be smug about this sordid piece of US foreign policy. Britain was also complicit in the overthrow, as Mossadeq had just nationalised British petroleum. This was the raison d’etre for the CIA’s coup.

This does not mean that Sanders is complacent about ISIS or the rise of other extremist groups and regimes. He states that his foreign policy will be to create an international situation that will prevent their emergence. Well, Bush’s War on Terror was supposed to stop that. It didn’t. But with Sanders, we might stand more of a chance.

Sanders describes himself as a ‘democratic Socialist’, which no doubt has the Repugs spitting teeth and raving about Communism. But it looks, at least from this side of the Pond, that he’s the man to restore America as a genuine moral and industrial force in the world. American industry and the country’s middle class have been devastated by three decades of Reaganomics, just as three decades of Thatcherism have done so much to wreck our fair nation over here. And in both America and Britain the poor have got poorer. Welfare programmes are being cut, and the unemployed, the sick, the homeless and disabled demonised or simply erased from public consciousness. If the world does need American leadership, then it needs American leaders like Sanders.

Mazzini’s Reply to the Today’s Cynicism about Democracy’s Founders

May 31, 2014

Giuseppe Mazzini

There’s considerable cynicism today about politics and the effectiveness of voting. Some of this is justifiable to a certain extent, coming from the fact that all three of the main political parties – Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives – have embraced Thatcherite neoliberalism to a greater or lesser extent. So much so, that many people cannot see any real difference between them, and so despair of there being any effective change in policy. As a result, they either don’t vote, or else vote for UKIP. The Kippers present themselves as being qualitatively different from the Liblabcons as they put it, but are in fact merely the extreme Eurosceptic Tory Right which has somehow managed to find a largely Left-leaning working class constituency.

Apart from this, there is a facile cynicism about democratic politics, expressed in sneers at the motives of the people who fought and died for modern citizens – Britain, Europe and indeed across the globe – to have the vote. They are seen as acting purely in their own interest, not that of succeeding generations. You sometimes see the comment posted up on the web and made elsewhere at elections that ‘They fought for themselves to get the vote, not for me’.

T’ain’t true, as the great Italian patriot, revolutionary and democrat Giuseppe Mazzini made clear. Mazzini was an early 19th century Italian nationalist, who wanted to see the Austrian Empire expelled from the peninsula, and its multitude of states united into a liberal, democratic Italian nation. Although a patriot, he also believed firmly in the brotherhood of humanity, and from the middle of the 1830s used ‘nationalist’ as a term of abuse. He ultimately wanted a federation of peaceful, free, sovereign states. He declared although it was necessary to struggle for national freedom against foreign oppression, patriotism should be no obstacle to ‘the brotherhood of peoples which is our one overriding aim’.

He was also very much aware that democratic revolutions and uprisings could and did fail before their ideals would be victorious. Nevertheless, the ideas that motivated the revolutionaries would continue to develop and spread even when the revolutionaries themselves had been cut down. He believed that the next revolution would see the triumph of freedom and democracy in Italy and Europe, and looked to future generations for their fulfilment. In 1839 he wrote that modern revolutionaries ‘labour less for the generation that lives around them than for the generation to come; the triumph of the ideas that they cast on the world is slow, but assured and decisive.’ (Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (Little, Brown 2008) 18).

So you have it from the mouth, or the pen, of one of the great architects of modern European democracy itself: the revolutionaries did not fight and die merely for themselves, but for us.

Cynicism about the increasingly identikit nature of the parties will only change when they do, and that will mean long, hard work by activists or the victory of genuinely alternative parties, like the Greens, Socialist Party or TUSC. The facile cynicism about the motives of the 19th century founders of democracy can be combatted by showing the words of the revolutionaries themselves, people like Mazzini, who looked to future generations to fulfil their dream of a world of peace, democracy and international brotherhood. Let’s do our best to honour their vision and sacrifice.

The BNP: Very Definitely Not ‘The Labour Party Your Grandfather Voted For’

May 4, 2014

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Nick Griffin, current Fuehrer of the BNP. His father was a Tory accountant. Definitely not the face of Old Labour.

I’ve posted a number of pieces against the attempts by the Tories and Libertarians to claim that the BNP is somehow a ‘left-wing’, ‘Socialist’ organisation by looking at the origin of the claim with the Freedom Association, formerly the National Association For Freedom (NAFF – make up your own jokes here, folks) in the 1980s, and the history and origins of the Fascist movements themselves. These very definitely show that while Fascism had left-wing elements, it was very definitely an extreme Right-wing movement.

Unfortunately, the Tories and Libertarians have been able to claim some verisimilitude for their claim from some of the recent rhetoric by the BNP. Owen Jones in Chavs discusses the way the BNP deliberately tried to appeal to alienated working class Labour voters by presenting themselves as protecting them from competition over jobs and particularly council housing from immigrants. Discussing the Resistible Rise of the BNP (deliberate Brecht reference there) in Barking and Dagenham, Jones states:

In Barking and Dagenham, the BNP has cleverly managed to latch on to the consequences of unfettered neoliberalism. New Labour was ideologically opposed to building council housing, because of its commitment to building a ‘property-owning democracy’ and its distrust of local authorities. Affordable housing and secure, well-paid jobs became increasingly scarce resources. The response of the BNP was to delegitimise non-native competition, goading people to think: ‘We don’t have enough homes to go round, so why are we giving them to foreigners?’

Cruddas [local Labour MP, Jon Cruddas] describes the BNP as hinging their strategy on ‘change versus enduring inequalities, and they racialize it’. All issues, whether housing or jobs, are approached in terms of race. ‘It allows people to render intelligible the changes around them, in terms of their own insecurities, material insecurities as well as cultural ones.’ Yes, it is a narrative based on myths. After all, only one in twenty social houses goes to a foreign national. But, with the government refusing to build homes and large numbers of foreign-looking people arriving in certain communities, the BNP’s narrative just seems to make sense to a lot of people. ppo.230-1.

… Coupled with this strategy is an audacious attempt by the BNP to encroach on Labour’s terrain. With New Labour apparently having abdicated the party’s traditional role of shielding working-class communities from the worst excesses of market forces, the BNP has wrapped itself in Labour clothes. ‘I would say that we’re more Labour than Labour are, ‘ says former local BNP councillor Richard Barnbrook. BNP literature describes the organisation as ‘the Labour party your grandfather voted for’.

Sifting through the BNP’s policies exposes this as a nonsense. Their tax policy, for example, includes abolishing income tax and increasing VAT ins5tead – a policy beloved of extreme right-wing libertarian economists that would benefit the rich at the expense of ordinary working people. The party freely adopts Thatcherite rhetoric, committing itself to the ‘private-enterprise economy’ and arguing ‘that private property should be encouraged and spread to as many individual members of our nation as possible’. (p. 231.)

It’s a posture, and one that goes right the way back to Hitler in Weimar Germany. When goose-stepping about the Reich on his election campaigns, Hitler altered the content of his speeches according to the particular areas in which he was speaking. In working-class districts with very strong Socialist and trade union traditions, he’d play up the anti-capitalist side of the Nazi programme. In which speech he declared that when the Nazis took power, power and property of the capitalists would be smashed and their coffers thrown out onto the street. He then added that this would not, of course, be done to proper, patriotic German capitalists, but only to Jews.

Which is precisely what the BNP is trying to do here: present themselves as somehow pro-working class, anti-capitalist, while being absolutely nothing of the sort. And the only capitalism they object to, is when it’s pursued by Jews and Non-Whites.

The BNP aren’t and have never been ‘left-wing’, ‘Socialist’ let alone ‘Old Labour’. It’s a cynical ruse to gain votes. And in doing so, it appears – but only appears – to legitimise the old Libertarian attitude that Fascism is a form of Socialism. Both are lies, and should be treated as such.

Callousness and Class Cruelty: The Real Reason the Tory Euro Vote Hasn’t Dropped

May 4, 2014

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A few days ago I reblogged a piece from Mike over at Vox Political, in which he wondered why the Tory vote hadn’t also been significantly affected by their ruthless austerity policies. The Lib Dems have effectively been wiped out due to their participation in the Coalition. After Clegg’s debate with Farage about the EU, the number of people stating they will vote for the Lib Dems has fallen to 2 per cent. Other polls place them vying for fifth place in national elections with the Greens. In one local election, as reported by Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge, they came behind Bus-Pass Elvis. This incarnation of the King stood on a platform of legalised brothels with a 30 per cent reduction for OAPs. Such decadence and immorality was clearly much more palatable to the local electors than the lies, hypocrisy and vicious attacks on the poor and underprivileged of the Lib Dems support for their Tories austerity programme. They are looking at political extinction. They deserve it.

The question remains, though. Why weren’t the Tories similarly affected?

The Lib Dems are, after all, only accomplices. Mike acknowledges that they may even be right in their assertion that they have held the Tories back from even more extreme policies. And the Tories are worse liars and hypocrites, and even more cruel, vicious and persecutory towards the working and lower middle classes. Before the 2010 election, they were posing as even more Left-wing than Labour. They went up and down the country engaging in stunts community activism, like trying to get funding for children’s play areas from the local Labour authority. They announced that they were ring-fencing money for the NHS. Osborne declared at one point that he was going to get rid of the PFI. Cameron’s mentor, Philip Blond, promoted an image of the party that he was extremely friendly to the organised working class, even citing the great anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, in his book, Red Tory. All this has been thoroughly discarded as the Tories push through the privatisation of the NHS, even more punitive policies towards the poor and working- and lower-middle class. And the PFI is still going strong under Osborne.

So why haven’t the electorate punished them, as they have the Lib Dems?

I think the answer lies in the type of people, who form the core Tory vote. The Tories have a reputation for being, in general, much more politically committed than Labour supporters. One of the Labour Prime Ministers, for example, was afraid of the effect the scheduling of a general election may have had on the number of people voting for the party, because it clashed with a popular TV programme. The fear was that the working class voters would stay home and watch that, rather than cast their vote at the polls. The turn-out for Euro elections is much lower than for British, and so only the most determined and committed parts of the electorate vote in them.

And in the case of the Tories, it seems those core voters are utter b****rds. Peter Snowden, in his book, Back from the Brink, discussing how the Tories managed to revive their electoral fortunes from the nadir of the Blair years, makes the point that Cameron’s attempt to position the Tories as more ‘Left-wing’ and competitors to Labour as social activists, met with only an indifferent response, if not outright hostility. The Tories simply don’t like community activism. And when Cameron stated at a publicity meeting that he was the heir to Blair, he was criticised by the editor of the Telegraph.

The number of people voting in general elections has declined considerably. Many are turning away from politics because of the apparent lack of any interest or appreciation of the hardships on ordinary working people that have been inflicted by the Neoliberal agendas now shared by all the main parties. Disgust at the greed, self-interest and hypocrisy of the political class has also had a highly corrosive effect on public confidence in them. The result is that membership of these parties has fallen to a rump of a few, very committed supporters, many of whom are tribal voters. In the case of the Tories, these voters appear to be arch-Thatcherites, motivated by a desire to return to a strongly hierarchical class system, and with a bitter hatred of state assistance for the poor and unfortunate.

The Lib Dems’ supporters, on the other hand clearly included many, who saw their party as far more moderate than the extreme Neoliberal organisation into which it has been moulded by Clegg. The ideological heritage of the Liberal party is that of John Stuart Mill – democracy, social justice and in the classic Liberal formulation, the achievement of individual liberty through collective action. In many areas where Labour is weak they are the opposition to the Tories. As a result, their followers feel the Coalition’s betrayal of their initial promises far more than the Tories, who seem largely content. And so they have abandoned the party in their droves. The Tores, however, propped up by class interest and Thatcherite greed, carry on as before.

And so Britain continues to suffer. It’s about time the Tories came to the same fate as the Lib Dems.

The Overthrow of the French Parliament by the Workers in the 1848 Revolution

April 20, 2014

1848 Book pic

Peter Jones in his book The 1848 Revolutions (Harlow: Longman 1981) describes the events of February 1848 in Paris, which culminated in a mob of workers storming the French Chamber of Deputies to overthrow the government and the monarchy:

On 20 February 1848 the reformers and the opposition to Guizot’s government in France made plans to hold a political banquet in Paris. the banquet was banned by the government and, as a result, the common people of Paris held a procession through the streets in protest against the decision. Their leaders presented a petition to the Chamber of Deputies demanding Guizot’s resignation.

The discontent against the government, and against Guizot in particular, had been growing during 1847 but then it had largely been a campaign of middle-class politicians. Now it was the cause of the common people of Paris and on 22 February 1848 the police had to clear an unruly crowd in the Place de la Madeleine. The next day the King, Louis Philippe, dismissed Guizot and called on Mole to lead the government. But this concession had come too late, because on the same evening a great throng of people had made their way along the Boulevard des Capucines to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only to find their passage blocked by a troop of cavalry and infantry. According to Victor Hugo, the people at the head of the procession tried to stop and turn aside, ‘but the irresistible pressure of the huge crowd weighed on the front ranks’. A shot rang out, and in the panic that followed a whole volley was fired. At least forty people were killed. The victims were piled on a cart lit with torches and within a few hours the city was blocked with barricades.

On the following morning, 24 February, Alexis de Tocqueville, a prominent member of the Chamber of Deputies, left his house feeling that he could ‘scent revolution in the air’. A group of men gathered round him and asked for news, and he warned them that the only real danger to the government was if they themselves got too excited and took matters to extremes. ‘”That’s all very well, sir,” they said, “the government has got itself into this fix by its own fault; so let it get itself out as best it can …”‘ Louis Philippe had done just that – he had abdicated that same afternoon and a Provisional Government had been set up.

The Provisional Government would probably have decided in favour of a Regency but the invasion of the Chamber of Deputies by a crowd of workers on the afternoon of 24 February pushed the Provisional Government towards a republic. Paris was now in the hands of the workers and the ‘dangerous classes’. Earlier that day they had invaded the Tuileries Palace and dumped Louis Philippe’s empty throne in the courtyard. According to Flaubert the ‘common herd ironically wrapped up in laces and cashmeres … Hats with ostrich feathers adorned blacksmiths’ heads, and ribbons of the Legion of Honour supplied waistbands for the prostitutes’. Lamartine, who was popular with the people, nevertheless witnessed the invasion of the Chamber of Deputies with fear:

‘They crowded the corridors, and rushed with their cries of mortal combat into the spectators’ galleries. Their clothes torn, their shirts open, their arms bare, their fists clenched and resembling muscular clubs, their hair wildly dishevelled, and singed with cartridges, their countenances maddened with the delirium of revolution, their eyes smitten with the spectacle, so novel to them, presented by the Chamber … all revealed them as desperadoes, who were come to make the last assault on the last refuge of royalty.’

They were armed with pikes, bayonets, and sabres. ‘Down with the Regency!’ they shouted, ‘The Republic forever’. Their demonstration meant that the new Provisional Government was forced to include the Socialists Louis Blanc and Flocon, as well as a solitary but symbolic worker, Albert. (pp. 1-2).

From France, the revolutionary movement spread to Bavaria, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Milan and Palermo. It did not last. They soon fizzled out and were brutally suppressed. In France the forces of the Right regrouped, the Revolution was suppressed and the Provisional Government was replaced by the new monarchy of Napoleon III.

The Workers’ Uprising in the ‘June Days’

The workers rose up again in June in protest at the closure of the National Workshops providing work for the unemployed. Alexis de Tocqueville, the nobleman, whose book on Democracy in America is still one of the great texts of political science, states that they were motivated from hunger.

In that city there were a hundred thousand armed workmen formed into regiments, without work and dying of hunger. Society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy; those who had anything united in common terror. There were no longer ties of sympathy linking these two great classes, and a struggle was everywhere assumed to be inevitable soon… (De Tocqueville, Recollections, in Jones, p. 83).

We Need a Campaign, Not Revolution, to Put Workers and Socialists in Government Today

We don’t need a revolution in this country, with violence and bloodshed. What we do need are more mass demonstrations and pressure on the government and the political parties to change their policies. Now as then, people are starving. Mike over at Vox Political and the other bloggers has estimated that about 55,000 people are dying per year due to government sanctions. The rate could be as high as 78,000. This is massively unreported. Stilloaks over on his blog gives the names and the stories of some of the victims.

Furthermore, the working class are massively under-represented in government and parliament. All the parties are eager to chase the votes of the aspiring middle class, and while there is in itself nothing wrong with this, it has been done at the expense of the working class. Earlier generations of Labour politicians included people from the working class, who made their way into parliament from the trade unions. One of the earliest Labour politicians to be elected to Westminster was an agricultural worker, and gave his autobiography, I believe, the title of ‘From Plough to Parliament’. Ernest Bevin, Labour’s Foreign Minister under Clement Atlee, was a dock worker and founder, with Harry Gosling, of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. Tony Blair and Ed Milliband have tried to loosen the Party’s links with the unions. And many of the modern ranks of politicians across the political spectrum come from very middle class backgrounds. Instead of trade union activism, they frequently come from a more academic background, having read of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Uni. The Tory and Tory Cabinet are a demonstration of this middle and upper class domination of politics and parliament. They are nearly all toffs with connections to banking and finance.

And the class composition of parliament and the parties shows in the parties’ economic and welfare policies. Any kind of nationalisation is considered unacceptable as they have adopted, to a greater or lesser extent, Thatcherite Neoliberalism. The government’s welfare policies, rather than address problems with the economy as the cause of poverty, blame the workers themselves for being too lazy or ill-prepared to find a job themselves. The result is a policy of punitive sanctions and highly coercive measures forcing the unemployed to work for their benefits to enrich private industry.

It’s time this stopped. We need proper, Socialist economic measures and the members and representatives of the working class back in parliament. The 1848 Revolution put, at least for a time, the Socialists Louis Blanc and Flocon in government, along with Albert, a worker. This was celebrated and praised as an example of what universal suffrage could achieve by the great German Socialist leader, Ferdinand Lassalle. The time is long overdue when a British government also included Socialists and workers.