At the end of March, Keir Starmer did what he obviously had been planning to do for a long time, and rammed a motion through the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee definitively ruling that Jeremy Corbyn will not be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate in the next General Election. This is due in Britain before December 2024, but will probably take place in May 2024. Unless the somewhat fragile Tory regime splits and collapses before then.
It was always obvious that Starmer would do this, as his entire project always was to sabotage the left-reformist, social democratic leadership of Corbyn in the period from 2015-2020, covering two General Elections (2017 and 2019). He was the prime cadre in the background who the neoliberal political cliques that dominate Labour’s sizeable apparatus and officialdom, came to regard as their standard-bearer after Corbyn was unexpectedly elected leader in a political mass upsurge after the neoliberal Labourites’ substantial election defeat in 2015. Put on the defensive by two damaging election defeats, the prior one in 2010 after the miserable end of 13 years of privatising, warmongering ‘Labour’ rule, the working class, or at least social-democratic, pole of this bourgeois labour party found the political space to reassert itself and win the leadership for a brief period.
The entire project of the British ruling class since the 1970s has been to defeat the trade unions, and to find a way to deprive the working class of political representation and the chance to even preserve and defend previously achieved social gains, such as the National Health Service and a half-decent social welfare system. These have been massively mangled by 40 years of a bosses’ offensive under the banner of neoliberalism, under both Tory and Labour governments. But however briefly, the mass movement behind Corbyn struck blows against that, conquered the Labour leadership, and even came close to winning political office on such a social democratic programme. In the 2017 General Election Corbyn’s Labour deprived then Tory Prime Minister Theresa May of the overall parliamentary majority the Tories had won in 2015 and forced them into two years of fragile minority government, where they depended on the votes of the Protestant-sectarian Democratic Unionist Party in the Northern Ireland statelet to get their measures through parliament.
This was a substantial shock to the British ruling class, who thought it had succeeded over the years of Thatcher and Blair in marginalising any kind of working-class politics. So, their response was that the Tories and the Labour neoliberals worked together to destroy Corbyn’s leadership. After some false starts, they settled on the tactic of using of fake allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour left as personified by Corbyn, who had been a long-time defender of Palestinian rights. The Tory/billionaire media, including ostensibly liberal outfits like the Guardian and Independent, worked together with the Labour right-wing internally to vilify the left in Labour as supposedly suffused with hatred of Jews.
In addition to this, the issue of Brexit (British exit from the European Union), and nationalism, was used as a weapon to defeat Labour by the right-wing, again exploiting the issue – which also massively divided the Conservatives – to divide and discredit Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. A UK referendum in 2016 saw Britain vote narrowly to leave the European Union on a basis that was as least partly driven by populist anti-immigration sentiment in part of the working class, and resentment at the loss of living standards under neoliberalism, which right-populists such as the UK Independence Party, as well as a key part of the Tories led by Boris Johnson, exploited to try to win power on the basis of the same populist nationalist demagogy.
Right-wing conspire to destroy Corbyn’s leadership.
In 2017, Corbyn stood on a platform of, among other things, accepting the result of the Brexit referendum and attempting to use it to escape some of the EU’s own neoliberal rules in pursuit of his social-democratic programme. This brought him close to victory in 2017. But after this, the Labour right under Starmer fought tooth and nail to commit Labour to another Brexit referendum, and the immediate reversal of the Brexit mandate. At the same time the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign was raging in the media and Corbyn retreated before the ferocity of it, Zionists complaining that disrespect for their racist programme equalled some kind of racist, anti-Semitic campaign against them.
Mendacious accusations of anti-Jewish racism were formulated against several leading figures on the Labour left, including well known figures like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, a host of less well known but fairly mainstream leftists such as Marc Wadsworth, Pete Willsman and Jackie Walker, as well as Stan Keable, Tony Greenstein and Socialist Fight’s Gerry Downing, who obviously were part of a Corbyn-supporting far left. Several of these were actually Jewish, but the ferocious mendacity in the media did not care about that. It was a pseudonymous campaign against socialism, nothing to do with any ‘racism’. Ideological confusion about Zionism ran deep in the Labour left, and both Corbyn, and a considerable layer of the official ‘left’ around him, such as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and the Corbyn-supporting Momentum movement, capitulated, refused to stand up for those so vilified, and threw them under the bus.
The result was that Corbyn looked chronically weak, and his authority over Labour was somewhat weakened by the time of the 2019 General Election. As well as that, the stumbling Tory Prime Minister Theresa May had been replaced by the Trump-like populist Boris Johnson, and Starmer’s policy of demanding the immediate reversal of the Brexit vote through a second referendum, played right into his hands. As it was probably intended to do, particularly as since becoming leader Starmer has wrapped himself in the Union Jack and become an outspoken defender of Brexit. It was quite correct to oppose Brexit and defend those rights of migrants within Britain and Europe that existed before Brexit, but the tactical question of how to handle the right populists’ victory in the referendum required some finesse.
The result of the ‘anti-Semitism’ lie campaign and the cynical, right-wing manoeuvring over Brexit was a major defeat for Labour in the 2019 General Election, at the hands of Johnson whose demands to ‘Get Brexit Done’ were something of a trump card. Though there are some grounds to suspect that even this was exaggerated and more sinister machinations from the bourgeoisie, possibly even involving corruption of the electoral system, were in play to magnify Johnson’s electoral victory. Some elements of the bourgeoisie, including both former Prime Minister May, and Trump’s US Secretary of State Pompeo had made it clear that the ruling class was determined to defeat Corbyn at virtually any cost.
After Labour’s 2019 defeat, Corbyn resigned, and Starmer took over, mendaciously promising ‘unity’ and the continuation of Corbyn’s social democratic policies. But entirely predictably, this was the prelude to the biggest purge of the left in the Labour Party’s history. Not just targeting alleged ‘far left’ infiltrators, but the mainstream Labour left. Left-wing parliamentarians have been forbidden, on pain of exclusion from the party, to sign anti-war statements over Ukraine, or to criticise Israeli racism, or to stand on workers picket lines. And of course, Corbyn had the Labour whip withdrawn, for refusing to collude fully with the Tory-dominated state body, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in its fatuous attempt to brand the Labour Party under his leadership as having ‘discriminated’ against Jews.
The purges have involved the proscription of pro-Corbyn left-wing groupings, and, on a massive scale, the expulsion of members of the party who supported those groupings even in many cases before they were proscribed. The claims about ‘anti-Semitism’ are exposed by the large scale purge of left-wing Jews, massively and disproportionately targeted as effectively ‘race-traitors’ by the racist Zionist thugs around Starmer who defend the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians and strong-arm those who dissent in classic far-right fashion.
Corbyn’s exclusion from standing in the overwhelmingly Labour-voting constituency, Islington North in North London, that he has represented since 1983, is the culmination of this purge. Its purpose is to ensure that nothing like Corbynism can even happen again, from within the Labour Party at least. It is entirely possible that this will finally resolve the class contradiction that Labour embodies, between its mass working-class base and the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist bureaucracy that rules its apparatus. In the period where British imperialism still had some strength in the world, this bureaucracy demanded ‘socialism’ through greater state ownership to benefit workers. Now that British capitalism is in deep decline and desperate for each morsel of profit, particularly the political labour bureaucracy is inclined to follow the ruling class in financial scams, including even the privatisation of healthcare.
For a genuine workers party!
The logical conclusion of this is to break the working class from the bourgeois labour party and create a genuine working-class party. Many of those excluded from Labour have already drawn this conclusion – Chris Williamson founded the Resist Movement in 2020 after being driven out of Labour, which recently merged with the Socialist Labour Party, founded by the veteran miners’ union leader Arthur Scargill in 1996. The SLP, with Chris Williamson playing the leading role, is now involved in a joint campaign against NATO and its proxy war in Ukraine with George Galloway and his Workers Party of Britain. Comrade Galloway was thrown out of the Labour Party in 2003 for his militant defiance of Blair and imperialism over the war in Iraq. All these activities are the beginnings of the coming together of forces to create such a working-class party.
What will Jeremy Corbyn do now he is being driven out of the Labour Party by the vengeful supporters of Zionism, imperialism and neoliberalism? Will he break from Labour and play a constructive role in the break of the British working class movement from pro-imperialist Labourism? He has been very reticent about this – it is virtually a certainty that if he were to defy Starmer and defend his seat as an independent leftist, he would defeat the stooge that dared to stand against him. But that would itself require him to break from the chronic political softness and conciliationism that crippled his ability to fight against the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt and the right-wing campaign of political assassination of not only himself, but the movement behind him. It is not clear at this point if he will capitulate or not.
We republish this item as a statement of solidarity with a fellow anti-Zionist activist who whose commendable project to defend Palestinian rights has been targeted by Zionist lawfare groups, and who much of the left has failed to defend. We will not capitulate to witchhunters in this manner. It was originally published on the Redress website
Your website posting contains many glaring inaccuracies about me.
The whole argument that I am anti-Semitic is made because you use the fraudulent and politicised International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which equates criticism of Israel with a hatred of Jews, a plainly ridiculous conceit and one which the definition itself declares to be anti-Semitic (the definition cites an example of anti-Semitism to be “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”)
In your posting you declare:
Pete Gregson is a former GMB Union shop steward, who was expelled for behaviour recognised by it as “anti-Semitic and racist in nature” and “simply unacceptable” holocaust denial after he issued a press release saying that Israel is a “racist endeavour” and “tends to exaggerate the importance of the holocaust for its own political ends.
The truth is that I was expelled from the GMB for breaching the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which means saying “Israel is a racist endeavour”, not about discriminating against Jews. I was defended at my hearing by two prominent Jews who were clear that nothing I had said was anti-Semitic (Rabbi Ahron Cohen and Tony Greenstein). What you call “simply unacceptable” holocaust denial is also absolutely untrue. I said that “Israel exaggerates the holocaust for political ends”. I have never claimed the holocaust was exaggerated, as I believe you well know. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
If you want to learn the truth, look at this video that Ken Loach told me he loved:
Indeed, I was not victimised by the GMB for issuing a press release; it was because I lodged a change.org petition to the Labour Party leadership asking it to abandon the IHRA definition, headed “Israel is a racist endeavour”, which 2,652 Labour Party members have signed.
I think if you are writing to the home secretary to complain about me, at the very least you should get your facts right. What happened was that a prominent Zionist, Rea Wolfson, who was a leading light at the Jewish Labour Movement, a Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member and a regional officer at GMB Scotland learned of my petition through my letters to the NEC and chose to get me expelled; I remain the only shop steward in the world to be expelled for criticising Israel- not for discriminating against Jews.
I was not suspended from the Scouts for any “anti-Semitic activities” – I was suspended because I was Chairperson of the Campaign Against Bogus Anti-Semitism (now One Democratic Palestine). The Scouts to date have never interviewed me or discussed my suspension, and our charitable status may well be withdrawn as a result of its action (for I am the treasurer and unable to submit the accounts). Our own Group Scout Leader, an Israeli Jew, declares he supports my freedom of speech on Palestine and is in favour of my reinstatement. As I believe you know, I am ever careful to keep my volunteering activities separate, I have taken great care never to publicly mention to either body my passion for both young people (I was a scout myself from the age of 12 to 16 and was a youth worker for 20 years) and Palestine.
Indeed, your posting barely mentions the people at the heart of the matter – those I seek to defend – the Palestinians who are suffering the brunt of the racism endemic prevalent in the current Israeli government, but one which Israel has promoted since its inception, beginning with the Nakba in 1948.
Your comments about me are also utterly untrue: my corrections are in brackets in bold:
In 2019, Gregson held a series of public meetings in Edinburgh,[these were not public meetings, they were called “Palfilm Nights” and were screenings of videos about the Palestinian struggle for self-determination] which were promoted as “An ideal opportunity to learn about the Palestine-Israeli situation and to improve discussion skills in a friendly and supportive environment”. The following statements by Gregson at the meetings were noted at the time by an attendee:[there were only eight people present when your attendee revealed he was part of Glasgow Friends of Israel but then went on to engage in polite discussion with the rest of us around why we supported Palestine. His reporting of our discussion is 100% false, and I can proffer witnesses to this]
a) “They’re not the same as Nazis because they don’t use gas chambers. But they have got the same idea about racial purity. And the racial purity that the Jews want is that you have to be Jewish, otherwise you’re the enemy”. [Quite untrue; I never said anything about racial purity or Nazis, or that anyone that wasn’t Jewish was their enemy.]
b) “Nobody stops this racist march because we feel guilty because of the holocaust. This is the card that the Jews in Israel play”.[There was no racist march that I know of ever mentioned at the Palfilm night – at that time I had never been involved in the SUTR (Stand Up to Racism) protest – again this comment is wholly fictional.]
c) “The Zionists have just as much pleasure killing Arabs”. [Again completely untrue; I never declared Zionists took pleasure in killing Arabs.]
I imagine that some of what you have attributed to Rabbi Weiss is similarly untrue. I await his comment.
The fact of the matter is that UK Lawyers for Israel seek to bar Rabbi Weiss from entering the UK. Rabbi Weiss is a friendly, peaceful devoutly religious man who knows too well about anti-Semitism – his grandparents died in Auschwitz. Excluding Rabbi Weiss would be ipso facto anti-Semitic because it would indicate he was being targeted because he is a Jew. Others are let into the UK who criticise Israel – should the Rabbi be unfairly treated because of his Judaic faith?
He, alongside most Palestinians and some other Jews, seeks a single state solution where all citizens can enjoy equal rights, freedom and security.
This is the message that you do not want people in the UK to hear, isn’t it?
This issue focuses on the struggle against imperialism’s proxy war in Ukraine, which is now a world-shaking, world-historic conflict between imperialism as epitomised by NATO and centrally the US, and a loose alliance of ex-workers states and semi-colonial countries aiming to escape worldwide imperialist domination and projecting the aim of a ‘multipolar world’ where imperialism, and particularly the world imperialist hegemon of the USA, ceases to hold sway. We as revolutionaries consider this to be a just and supportable struggle in which the working class has a side – against NATO. Though we also consider that that the only way to lastingly and permanently defeat imperialist capitalism is through international workers revolution.
Our strategic aim is the creation of a new World Party of Socialist Revolution to lead this struggle. This is a necessarily many-sided struggle. These different sides are faithfully reflected in this issue, both on the domestic and international terrain. Both the front page and back page article are devoted to the struggle against imperialism.
The front-page lead article is about the very welcome creation of No to NATO, No to War (No2NATO) as an anti-war bloc and a point of unity of genuine anti-imperialist, anti-war activists. We acclaim its initiation by Chris Williamson of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), and George Galloway of the Workers Party of Britain (WPB) and note its potential not merely to unite anti-war activists but also to provide the basis for the crystallisation of a new anti-imperialist, genuinely working-class party, since both initiating components share key elements of our strategic aim in this regard.
This is not of course the first time that comrade Galloway has attempted such a thing – for all its problems, RESPECT in the 2000s was an attempt to be proud of – we hope he and his collaborators will be inclined to repeat that on a more solid basis this time around. The article contains a balanced and fraternal analysis of the history and politics of all this, both regarding the political histories of the SLP and WPB which we hope will be taken in the spirit it is intended and will indeed be a source of clarification and solidification of a promising political project.
The back-page article reflects the other side of our work: seeking to build an internationalist and principled anti-imperialist left, working with other revolutionary-minded left-wing tendencies from a variety of positions, not just of Trotskyist origin. The declaration reproduced on the back page calls for the victory of Russia against imperialism on the anniversary of the Special Military Operation. We are the British section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI), and as an international tendency the LCFI takes the lead in seeking to overcome historic animosities and build something akin to the Zimmerwald left, which was the predecessor of the Communist International in WWI. We have also sought to endorse the Paris Declaration initiated by a number of left-Stalinist groupings including the CPGB-ML, where we have met with reluctance and caution about accepting endorsements from Trotskyists, but to underline our seriousness about this we reproduce their sharp, class-based declaration, with our own brief commentary.
Also on the Ukraine conflict, there is coverage of the protest at Downing Street against Nazi terror in Ukraine organised by International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity (IUAFS) on 28th January, a similar protest in Dublin, an anti-war protest in Seoul, South Korea, and a speech by the Bolshevik Group of Korea at that latter event. Another protest is being held at Downing Street on 25th March, supported by No2NATO and the IUAFS, which our comrades again strongly support. Also in this regard, there is the text of a leaflet the IUAFS issued to the Stop the War conference on 21 Jan when building for our own 28 Jan event – we do not neglect the struggle against inconsistent, pseudo – ‘opposition’ to imperialism’s proxy war.
Other material in this issue includes an analysis of the rocky state of Sunak’s Tory regime, and the contradictions facing it, the complete lack of an alternative from the Labour Party, the state of working class resistance and the problems of the strike wave, and not least the recent unusual but exemplary political strike at the BBC in defence of Gary Lineker’s right to free speech. There is the text of a leaflet distributed by the Consistent Democrats at trade union events, such as Enough Is Enough’s protest events at Downing Street against the Tories’ new attacks on unions. There is coverage of the rise to power of Lula, of the reformist Brazilian Workers Party, and the attempt of far- right Bolsonaro supporters to stop his taking office. And there is a personal view of the issue of the Gender Recognition Bill issue in Scotland, and the question of trans rights, by our comrade Mark Andresen.
The other major article featured in this issue is our review, of the major work by Tony Greenstein: Zionism during the Holocaust – the Weaponisation of Memory in the Service of State and Nation. This is a supportive review, as the book itself has an encyclopaedic character on this crucial subject – it contains such a wealth of information of research and information that it will be referred to for decades to come. But the review is far from uncritical and deals with some crucial gaps in the author’s analysis and conclusions that genuine Marxists are duty-bound to address.
All-in-all this issue contains a considerable selection of material of importance to the left and the struggle for socialism.
A personal reflection on the Scottish Gender Recognition Bill
As a heterosexual male, and no authority on LGBTQ+ issues, I’d not anticipated writing on the subject of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill. What swiftly changed my uncommitted position was the fallout, the triggered bigoted responses by the liberal left to its initial passing. Their consensus being that their former long held ‘safe spaces’ were now under imminent threat. Not only does this triggered assumption not relate to the Bill’s purpose, neither does it reflect it in outcome. In truth, it is simply the latest stage in a procedure that commenced back in 1998.
Sue Pascoe of Chamber UK confirms:
‘The Bill has nothing to do with access to single sex spaces, prison placement or sports activities; it is only about the process that leads to a new birth certificate…’ She goes on: ‘The benefit for a trans person of a new birth certificate is being able to marry in church in their acquired gender, die recorded in that gender and bring their birth certificate into alignment with their already changed passport and driving licence, so that they are not ‘outed’ getting a job, or similar situations where all documents might be required.’ .
This represents a key corrective to the response triggered from some on the Left, as well as – inevitably – many more on the Right. It somewhat mirrored the fallout from the Section 28 debates between 1988 – 91, exposing the shallowness of much of the liberal left commitment to gender rights. Misperception of the Gender Recognition Bill and its intended outcomes left a void filled by a united prejudicial assumption.
There is an additional problem in this line of demarcation thinking; that we accept the parallel framing of a separatist liberal agenda that continues to endanger – rather than support – the very communities that seek to be included and emboldened in society, rather than permanently excluded by it. Mike MacNair in The Weekly Worker clarifies this position.
“’…The political nature of (a) positive approach has to be one which stresses the commonality of the oppression of trans people with other experiences of oppression and exploitation, rather than stressing the difference.” (MacNair, Clearing the Ground, 2023). He adds how treating it as a single issue, rather than as a part of “our common humanity”, remains “true of any other moral and political claim”. That the fear for the safe spaces – and knee-jerk reactions of anger – feeds into the divide-and-rule separatism of establishment framing and are “useless for emancipation” going forward. (ibid).
Outside the other ‘safe space’ – social media itself – the consequent demarcations appeared less surprising. I.e., the national vigils in response to the horrific double knife murder of Brianna Ghey on the one hand – and Sunak’s blocking of the Gender Recognition Bill and subsequent High Court review on the other.
“Under Section 35 the UK Government can legally intervene to block royal assent for a bill that a Secretary of State ‘has reasonable grounds to believe would be incompatible with any international obligations or the interests of defence or national security’. The Government can also legally take action if it sees a bill as making modifications to the law as ‘it applies to reserved matters’. Under such a scenario, ministers in London must have ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that any proposed legislation would have an ‘adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters’. This means that a bill can be blocked if the Government thinks it would clash or conflict with the prevailing UK Government policy as it applies to reserved matters, even if the proposed legislation falls within the powers granted to Holyrood.” .
Stephen McilKenny, The Scotsman, 17/02/23
This has often been quoted by the Right as justification for blocking. Yet, there is no discernible reason given as to why such a Bill might conspire to conflict with existing legislation if what Sue Pascoe claims is correct.
The sudden resignation announcement of Nicola Sturgeon has added uncertainty to its future path. While it’s unlikely the response to the Bill had any bearing on her decision – despite the implication made by the mainstream media (it having had broad support from both sides of The Commons) – each of the candidates standing so far, for succession as First Minister, appear less committed to fighting for its success across the border; a sure sign of their continuity neoliberal credentials. A UK Government-friendly SNP – suddenly softer on independence – is the last thing either nation needs right now; whatever their politics. A stronger working-class requires a Westminster Government so cornered it will have to capitulate to people’s needs faster than the excellent nationwide strike wave can currently achieve on its own. As we know, this requires a post-strike policy platform of demands for what follows, which no union appears, as yet to have considered; but, the mooted alternatives are for another article.
So, what of the response by the LGBTQ+ communities themselves?
Integration network SEIN define what is meant by a ‘safe space’ as “a place or environment in which a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.” (Sein Glasgow, 2017). Stonewall – after polling its members and supporters, prior to the passing of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament – found a mixed picture in their results; one which highlighted obstacles to acceptance as much within some communities, as outside of them.
“Society is changing,” states Stonewall’s Chief Executive:
“The vast majority of LGBT people are open to at least some of their friends, and nearly half of us are open to everyone in their family… but, the picture is mixed. Bi people in particular feel unable to be open about their identities with friends and family: they’re four times more likely not to be open with anyone in their family than gay men and lesbians. That’s a particularly depressing figure given how marginalised bi people can often feel; the sense of isolation, of invisibility, behind these figures is hard to truly comprehend. And what of our intimate relationships? Again, the picture is far from encouraging. This report shows that more than one in ten LGBT people have been abused by a partner in the last year. These rates rise further for trans people, as well as disabled and black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people…The report found that half of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people experienced discrimination in their local LGBT community because of their ethnicity. One in eight LGBT people of faith and one in four LGBT disabled people whose activities are ‘limited a lot’ because of a health problem or disability have also encountered prejudice based on their identities. Which means some LGBT spaces are inaccessible to the very people who may need them most.” .
R Hunt, Stonewall Chief Executive
The gay communities of the past were no strangers to their own, internal, conflicts as how best to proceed. e.g., the Assimilation v. Revolt debate. In the mainstream press of the day, during the Section 28 controversy, battle lines were drawn between actor Ian McKellan, very much in the former camp, and director Derek Jarman, proudly in the latter. “I’ve no wish to join an Establishment that’s spent several hundred years excluding us”, Jarman memorably retorted. This position mirrored his view that ‘legal rights’ here – advocated by some – should have nothing to do with private sexual choices made between consenting adults; something deemed reasonable at the time that today’s liberal leftists – irrespective of who’d draft such rights – might blanch at. Yet, this also feeds in to MacNair’s point that such issues should not be treated as separate entities, apart from the needs of the working-class majority, but included as part of the revolutionary, inclusive and transformative agenda of a Trotskyist platform. A view I gladly share.
Labour Offers More of the Same! We Need a Genuine Working-Class Party!
Sunak’s Tory government flounders from one crisis to another, even though it really has no opposition within mainstream politics. In the middle of a huge international crisis of Western imperialist hegemony, this crisis is also the product of British capitalism’s more specific decline. The Tory Party is a huge liability for the boss class of Britain, but for the moment, they are stuck with it. It desperately clings on knowing full well that a large majority of the population consider it a venal gang of asset strippers and are desperate to see the back of it. This Tory Party abandoned its long-time ethos (many would say ‘façade’) of sober respectability in the middle of the last decade and plunged into populist demagogy to try to exploit a major crisis of the British capitalist system much of which was of its making, to give itself a paradoxical short-term revival. The problem is that this was only a short-term buzz, and that is all it could be. The hangover from the debauchery and rampant corruption-in-plain-sight of Boris Johnson’s premiership, and then the Kamikwazi rampage of Truss’s brief but destructive far-right reign, is proving terrifying. It has lost its moorings and does not have any clue how to recover the political capital as a supposed organ of bourgeois stability that it once possessed.
Sunak likes to put across an ‘image’ of the Tory Party returning to some vaunted “integrity, professionalism and accountability” but his government has so many obvious sociopaths in it that this is a bad joke. He has no choice in this as the populists are too strong in the party to be decisively defeated. And he owes his rise to them in any case – he is one of them, who is now trying to dissemble. So, it staggers through contradictions – the Windsor Agreement he signed with the EU to resolve the impasse over the ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ of Johnson’s original 2019 Withdrawal Agreement aims to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, which is the basis of power-sharing in the North of Ireland. But that depends on formal adherence to the European Convention of Human Rights and similar international agreements, including the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The tactic of the far right of the Tories is to use non-white stooges to promote a racist agenda – which was learned from the former apartheid South African regime’s Bantustan tactic. Sunak himself is a prime example, as were Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng earlier. Their rise is fuelled by big money, neoliberalism and corruption, and there are always stooges among every population that can be bought and bribed. Suella Braverman’s reprise of Priti Patel’s plan to criminalise asylum seeking, if implemented would blow Sunak’s agreement with the EU out of the water. His visit to Macron, bunging him a half-billion pound bribe to set up a detention camp, is designed to find a way round this contradiction.
Strike Against Government Censorship
But the attempt to suppress criticism of Braverman’s racist agitation against refugees by Gary Lineker has led to a confrontation of the government and its BBC stooges with football stars and BBC staff, driven by support from working class football fans, who are often stereotyped as racist and reactionary. Not in this case. Lineker is hardly radical – he was hostile to Corbyn from the right – but on this his statements and refusal to apologise are principled and worthy of support.
Both Labour and Tories denounced Lineker’s Tweeted comparison of Braverman’s vitriol with 1930s Germany– though Labour was forced to about-face. He was removed as chief presenter of Match of the Day. Braverman claimed his criticism was ‘offensive’ because her husband is Jewish – weaponising him to defend racism. But when other star presenters, like Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, refused to appear without Lineker, followed by other presenters and commentators, and then football clubs and players, under pressure from fans, refused to appear, or to be interviewed about matches by the BBC. In effect this has led to a spontaneous and amorphous strike and confrontation with the government and the corruptly taken-over BBC, with its leading personnel like Richard Sharp widely known to be involved in financial corruption with Tory politicians like Johnson. A strike by football stars, clubs and fans, which shut down BBC’s football coverage in less than a day. A strike provoked by the government, this time about political censorship, right-wing ‘cancel culture’ and flagrant attacks on free speech.
The Strike Wave and the Union Bureaucracy
This interacts with the broader strike wave, which has recently shown signs of sputtering, as strikes have been called off for ‘negotiations’ with the government by nurses, firefighters and railway workers, even though the votes in favour of strike action by sections of workers being balloted recently have exceeded the most optimistic expectations of trade union militants. In the Royal Mail, several weeks ago, you had 96%, on a 77% turn out, voting to strike. This was then exceeded by junior doctors who managed a 97% vote in favour of strike action. But in this strike wave the problems of the nature of the trade union bureaucracy, and the lack of leadership of the movement by a political party of the working class, are now central questions.
The bureaucracy, even its most militant-talking figures such as Mick Lynch of the RMT, have scrupulously abided by the previous anti-union laws and merely sought to manoeuvre within them, not only in terms of ballots and fighting for a huge turnout, but also by giving two weeks’ notice of strikes, refusing to engage in solidarity actions, and not openly organising more generalised strike actions. This has been done apologetically and occasionally and has not been central to the strategy of the unions. What should be done is to mobilise that mass militancy that gives rise to 90%+ majorities into confrontation with the bosses and the government where the union membership, not the bosses state, set the terms. In the absence of that, the government has felt emboldened to carry out a further attack on trade union rights with its outrageous ‘minimum service level’ bill, eroding the right to strike itself. The unions should absolutely not be settling with the government not least because of this.
The problem is that the unions have no unifying leadership and perspective, and many of them are organically soft on Starmer’s Labour Party even as it shafts trade unionists and bans its elected representatives from even standing on picket lines. This strike-wave is driven by public sector workers’ discontent at being nakedly robbed of billions that should be spent paying them decent wages, while the same billions are sent to Ukrainian Nazis for the proxy war against Russia. Yet the TUC passes resolutions calling for increased arms expenditure, and misleaders like the fake-left Mick Whelan of ASLEF, along with John McDonnell, signed the dreadful Ukraine Solidarity Campaign statement calling on British imperialism to sent warplanes to the Nazi regime in Ukraine.
Such people are incapable of leading a real struggle against this regime, and its accomplices and stooges like the Zionist racist and Nazi apologist Starmer. To strike as a unifying fist against the bosses, we need a genuine workers party able to offer a principled alternative to such wretches, and to the ethos of the labour bureaucracy as a whole. Such a party needs to fight consistently to defend oppressed peoples abroad, such as the Donbass population and the Palestinians, and thereby also to consistently oppose imperialist activities in support of such oppression, which in present conditions literally involves taking money from the poor at home and giving it to violent racists abroad. It must give voice to working-class discontent against that bureaucracy, a caste of professional negotiators over the price of labour power within the capitalist system who themselves fear the emergence of movements aimed at abolishing that system, which would render their role redundant.
Sunak’s regime is as strident as any involved in waging the criminal imperialist anti-Russian proxy war in Ukraine. He rivals both Ursula van der Leyden and Boris Johnson in that regard. The overarching situation in West Europe is that the war risks destabilising the whole continent, not just Britain. Anti-war protests as well as strikes over economic questions are becoming a regular event in Western countries. Britain has lagged behind, but the groundswell of discontent that led to the formation of No to NATO, No to War means that is unlikely to last. The protests are fuelled by economic suffering of the masses as many are crucified by inflation and rocketing energy prices, but in Britain it is worse, largely because of Brexit. The considerable strike wave resulting from the inflation has revived both the strength, purpose and moral authority of trade unions among the mass of the working-class population.
Starmer: Purging the Labour Movement from the ‘Labour’ Party
The ruling class, knowing full well that the lies and demonisation of Russia involved in this war are as outrageous as those used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, are desperate to stop a real anti-war movement taking off. Thus, the attempts to stop the No to NATO conference. As the Tories have atrophied, the bosses have been grooming Starmer and New Labour to take their place, and he is undertaking this mission with enthusiasm.
His attacks on the working class and left-wing base of the Labour Party go far deeper than those under Kinnock and Blair. The ruling class had a big scare when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, and Starmer is simply acting for the bosses in making sure that Corbyn and people like him will never be able to address a mass audience through the Labour Party again. We see not only the banning of Corbyn from standing as a Labour candidate in the Islington North seat he has held since 1983, but also such measures as banning CLP’s from affiliating to left-wing, anti-racist, environmental and socialist campaigns. These include, as Skwawkbox recently reported:
“Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Stop the War Coalition, Republic, London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, Jewish Voice for Labour, Somalis for Labour, Sikhs for Labour, All African Women’s Group, Health Campaigns Together, The Campaign against Climate Change Trades Union, Peace & Justice Project.”
The flipside of this attack is that CLP’s will not be allowed to vote against being affiliated to right-wing and racist bodies that are nationally affiliated to Labour. Such as the Jewish Labour Movement, which supports the racist state of Israel against the Palestinian people, and which openly refused to support Labour in the 2019 General Election, preferring Boris Johnson as prime minister to Jeremy Corbyn.
This is a full-frontal attack on the working-class component of the Labour Party more blatant than either Kinnock or Blair dared to do. Its clearly a purge of the mainstream Labour left and all who dissent from the politics of privatisation of healthcare, racist and chauvinist campaigns against oppressed ethnic groups, NATO nuclear warmongering, and support for Zionist crimes. There is no real pretence any more than they are attacking some kind of ‘far left’ fringe of supposed ‘infiltrators’ or ‘entryists’, implying that such people have revolutionary aims that are at odds with Labour’s supposed ‘democratic and constitutional’ politics.
Blair publicly regretted that Labour was ever created and wanted to ‘heal’ the split with the Liberal Party. Starmer is now putting that into practice by purging the Labour’s organic reformist left. The explicit statement by Starmer that Corbyn has been de-selected – by Starmer’s diktat — from Islington North is accompanied by the semi-proscription of the Peace and Justice initiative that Corbyn founded. Banning CLP’s from affiliating to this body logically points to banning members from supporting it – that is, proscribing it. And thus, the basis is being laid by Starmer to expel Corbyn from the Labour Party on a similar basis to many expulsions that have happened already – for supporting bodies such as Labour Against the Witchhunt, etc, which were proscribed retrospectively, so that people who supported them even before they were proscribed can be purged.
This little innovation is one very good reason why no one with any socialist or working-class consciousness, no-one with the slightest shred of democratic principle or even self-preservation should support Labour in any election where that would help Starmer become prime minister. Passing new rules (or laws) that are then used to ‘prosecute’ people for “prohibited acts” committed before such measures were adopted is a threat to all the democratic rights that the working class has won under bourgeois democracy. It indicates that today’s Labour Party leadership rejects the principle that working-class people are entitled to any democratic rights at all. It is rather like an infamous judgment regarding slavery that was one of the key flashpoints of the US Civil War in the mid-19th Century.
Chief Judge Taney of the US Supreme Court forced slave Dredd Scott to be forcibly retained by his owner and declared that black people had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect”. Starmer has a similar attitude to working class socialists and those who fight against racism – for him they are lesser people whose democratic rights can be abolished retrospectively, at the behest of the employing class. If he can do this within the Labour Party, there is no reason why he could not do the same in wider society were he to become Prime Minister. It is worth noting that Braverman learned the technique of weaponising her husband’s Jewish origin to suppress criticism of racism, from the Labour right.
Working-class people have everything to fear and nothing to gain from putting Starmer into Downing Street to replace Sunak. It would be out of the frying pan and into the fire. The best outcome that the working class can hope for in the next election is a hung parliament, where neither Tories nor Starmer’s party are able to do much, with some presence of a new left-wing party perhaps crystallising out of such progressive, anti-imperialist developments as No to NATO, No to War, and/or the various initiatives that are taking place to try and put the beginnings of a new working class party in place before the general election. Though the Starmerites might respond to this by forming a grand coalition with the Tories.
Potential for a New Working-Class Party
The potential for a new working-class party is shown by a recent opinion poll conducted by Trust Barometer, which revealed that 61 per cent of potential voters agreed that Britain needs “needs a completely new type of political party to compete with the Conservatives and Labour for power”, and that three quarters said that they thought the UK was “heading in the wrong direction”. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-tories-starmer-sunak-poll-b2290995.html?r=44995) This does not appear to reflect any kind of far-right sentiment – overwhelmingly it appears to reflect discontent with the right-wing Tory regime and the belief that Labour under Starmer is like the Tories.
The most advanced initiative towards such a development is the 2022 merger of Chris Williamson’s Resist Movement with the Socialist Labour Party, founded nearly three decades ago by miners’ leader Arthur Scargill after the Labour Party under Blair repudiated its bureaucratic-socialist Clause 4. As now a leading spokesperson for the SLP, comrade Williamson initiated No to NATO, No to War with George Galloway and his Workers Party. We hope these will come together in a principled party unification in due course and avoid/overcome the adaptation to right-populism that has marred the Workers Party in its founding period. Other initiatives that point in the same direction are the call for the convening of a conference to discuss and advance the formation of a new left-wing party, put forward by the Socialist Labour Network, which our comrades have also supported over the last period for its potential in this regard. The People’s Alliance of the Left (PAL), which includes Left Unity, TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition), the Northern Independence Party and the Breakthrough Party, is another strand that may have some role in the creation of such a party. If Corbyn were to bite the bullet and defy Starmer to stand as against Labour in Islington North that would undoubtedly galvanise much wider numbers, though it is far from clear that he has the political courage to do that. What is needed above all is a commitment to both free debate and working-class democracy, and a framework where political development in a genuinely working-class, revolutionary direction is possible.
The creation of No to Nato, No to War is potentially a major change in British politics. On 25th November, responding to a call by Chris Williamson of the Socialist Labour Party, and George Galloway of the Workers Party, around 1000 Communists, Socialists and Anti-Imperialists met up at Bolivar Hall in Central London, the Venezuelan cultural centre. They met in three separate sittings due to the limited size of the hall (holding around 350 people at maximum) and voted, three times therefore, for a motion to constitute No2NATO as a new, anti-imperialist anti-war coalition, with an initial, interim leadership of Galloway, Williamson and ASLEF Vice-President Andy Judd, until a broader leadership can be elected.
The ruling class evidently fears this new coalition and had mobilised its spooks and other agents – or at least their online contingent – the troll army of NATO that is titled NAFO (‘North Atlantic Fellas Organisation’) to try to prevent the conference from being held. Previously, two bigger venues had been booked, first St Pancras Church, and then Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, and each time the venue management had capitulated to a campaign of cyber terrorism – threats of disruption, sabotage and violence, and some sort of boycott emanating from the trolls and no doubt business interests of various kinds, to coerce them to cancel the event. The feeble cowards surrendered within hours to criminal activity.
This could potentially cause legal problems for these venues, as they both signed contracts with the organisers, who are centred around two legal left-wing political parties that are both registered with the Electoral Commission. Or the ruling class could openly dispense with ‘democracy’ and seek to ban the parties and the movement itself. But such a thing is unlikely at this juncture, as it would likely backfire. Popular sentiment has swung to acute scepticism about the Ukraine proxy war, and the dangers of a wider, nuclear conflict and the Nazi proclivities of NATO’s proxies are becoming more widely known. It’s a major scandal waiting to erupt.
An alternative to Stop the War. It ought to replace it!
The new anti-war coalition is based on opposition to NATO and not the pro-imperialist politics of the Stop the War Coalition, which professes to be neutral in the conflict and to condemn all sides, but which prominently raises the slogan ‘Russian Troops out of Ukraine’. The reason why there has been no anti-war movement here thus far is summed up in that slogan. Because that is NATO’s main war aim – to drive Russia out of Ukraine so that Maidan Ukraine can join NATO and become a threatening base for aggression, including nuclear aggression, against Russia. It does not matter that STW expresses pious words of criticism or even condemnation of NATO for expansion and its lies about a ‘peace dividend’ after the Cold War. That will simply be ignored. The demand for ‘Russian Troops Out’ is what is operative, and it simply makes Stop the War a left cover for NATO and its proxy war in Ukraine.
Though even that is not enough for the disgusting imperialist ‘Ukraine Solidarity Campaign’ which, when Stop the War called their own national demonstration on same day as the No2Nato event, actually waged a counter-demonstration and provocation against it, briefly trying to seize the front of the march. These imperialist types produced a statement demanding tanks and warplanes, and other arms to US imperialism’s Nazi puppet regime in Kiev, whose Head of State, Zelensky, posts images on his official Instagram account of his troops wearing SS emblems like the Death Head, the Lion badge of the SS Galician Division, and even the cracked skull symbol of Hitler’s personal bodyguard. This obviously has the blessing of the Labour Party leadership around Starmer, but it is an index of the grotesque capitulation to imperialism of much of the remaining Labour ‘left’ that it was signed by John McDonnell and Ian Lavery.
Thus, these people finally show their true nature. Even the social imperialists in both world wars refrained from embracing the perpetrators and advocates of genocide. In Germany, the SPD avoided even the appearance of complicity with Nazism by supporting the ‘Allied’ coalition against Hitler, led by imperialist US, Britain and France but also including the USSR (which did most of the actual fighting). Now we have decisive elements of West European social democracy, in Britain and Germany, under US guidance (of course), calling for arms for Nazi puppet forces that embrace a cult of Nazi criminals like Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Hitler. This is a major political departure for social democracy, a further stage in its degeneration.
The Galloway/Williamson initiative has great potential, in that it represents a significant break to the left of the most previously ‘left’ reformism in the Labour tradition, where both main initiators have their roots. Chris Williamson is the only parliamentary representative in the Corbynite movement who came out of that situation with his political integrity intact, who defied the witchhunt with considerable consistency and refused to grovel to the witchhunters. He was rewarded with suspensions from the party on the basis of lies and quotation-chopping so laughable that it bears comparison with the frauds of Stalin’s secret police in the 1930s, in the worst period of the Soviet labour bureaucracy’s attempts to crush their left critics.
Chris Williamson and the SLP
The attacks on Williamson were so blatantly unlawful that he has won two legal victories against them. One in court against an unlawful 2019 suspension from the Labour Party (though they immediately contrived another one). Also, the government quango, the so-called Equality and Human Rights Commission, which produced a pseudo-report in 2020 mendaciously claiming the Labour Party under Corbyn had discriminated against Jews, was compelled to remove a smear against Chris from its screed for fear of legal action – a similar smear of ‘anti-semitism’ to the ones former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and former Labour councillor Pam Bromley are now litigating against.
After being deprived of the chance to stand as a Labour candidate for his own Derby North seat in the 2019 General Election by this fraud, Chris stood as an independent, though in the middle of the defeat of Labour engineered by the right-wing saboteurs, compounded by the smear campaign against him personally, he predictably did poorly. But after leaving Labour, he founded the Resistance Movement, also known as Resist, as a left-wing ‘grassroots movement’ which sought to involve itself in working class campaigning activity. It later voted to transform itself into a political party, initially registered under the name System Change due to the onerous requirements of the Electoral Commission. But in 2022 Chris proposed that Resist merge with Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party, which has existed since 1996, and the proposal overwhelmingly carried. It was a bold move, as mistakes in the SLP’s way of organising in its early days – a rigid and bureaucratic way of dealing with political debate and the factionalism on the far left, blunted its potential and led it into a ghetto of stagnation, isolation and decline. This appears to have been vindicated as the influx of Resist supporters has somewhat revived the SLP and Chris has become perhaps their most prominent figure in terms of public activity.
Both over Zionism and Ukraine war, Chris Williamson has taken principled anti-imperialist positions, speaking out in defence of the people of the Donbass, and therefore, to defend them, being compelled very publicly to defend the Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Donbass, which is the only thing standing in the way of an imperialist Nazi-fuelled Zionist-type project of ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Donbass people, likely akin to what was done to the Palestinians. In that, he has much in common with the SLP historically, which was rooted in the militant National Union of Mineworkers when led by Arthur Scargill particularly during the heroic 1984-5 miners’ strike, who didn’t flinch from defying ruling class anti-Sovietism during the Cold War. But Chris’s embrace of labour movement democracy as a crucial issue in Labour – his ‘democracy roadshow’ and demands for accountability in the Corbyn-led Labour Party was one thing that put the wind up the Blairites (while Corbyn himself prevaricated and capitulated) – points to a much more democratic and outgoing party project than the flawed original SLP. Chris Williamson has deepened his critique of Labourism and its role in support of imperialism and colonialism, and denounced Attlee’s 1945-51 Labour government at the conference for its role in creating NATO in 1949. He has also taken to quoting Lenin on the nature of the Labour Party as a “thoroughly bourgeois party … composed of workers … [but] led by reactionaries”, something that points to potential evolution much further to the left.
George Galloway and the Workers Party
George Galloway also broke to the left from Labour in the context of the Iraq War, being expelled in 2004 for ‘incitement’, in other words, a principled opposition that went much further than the usual social-pacifist bleating of left social democracy, when he called on other Arab countries to come to Iraq’s defence against the US/UK 2003 invasion and occupation. His electoral victory in 2005 in Bethnal Green and Bow, under the banner of the left-wing coalition RESPECT, was one of the most powerful blows against imperialism and pro-imperialist Labourism in the history of the British left. RESPECT was initially a coalition with part of the far left, mainly the SWP under the leadership of John Rees and Lindsey German, and a layer of amorphous Muslim radicals based mainly in the Pakistani and Bengali immigrant communities in several major cities. Later, when the SWP retreated from what was in fact the most left-wing phase in its history, and tried to destroy RESPECT because its coalition partners refused to blindly obey it, RESPECT became a short-lived party in its own right. It hung around for a few years in the changing political environment of the early 2010s before being formally dissolved when Corbyn gained the leadership of the Labour Party, though one early sign of Corbyn’s cowardice in the face of the right-wing was his refusal to fight to reverse Galloway’s 2004 expulsion for a principled anti-imperialist position.
Galloway is a contradictory figure, as his ‘anti-imperialism’ has often been very strident and principled, but at the same time mixed with conservative religious views on some questions. Notably, he has long been opposed to abortion on ‘conscientious’ religious grounds as originally a Catholic of Irish origin (though his religious beliefs today appear more eclectic). He has also evidenced various degrees of hostility and suspicion towards Trotskyism as a movement, though he has also worked closely with some on the left who claim elements of the Trotskyist tradition. Such conflicts are not unusual, as many of today’s groups that claim the tradition of ‘Trotskyism’ are downright treacherous and have repeatedly crossed class lines, betraying the entire tradition. He could be described as critically aligned with Stalinism. Galloway has been stiff-necked and principled in the face of Zionist hatred for his militant anti-Zionism and anti-imperialism, and has suffered personally for his view. For that he deserves admiration and solidarity.
However, one product of this personal suffering and isolation has been disorientation at times, and the taking of political positions that are problematic and erroneous, and that have somewhat damaged his reputation. Some of them are also no doubt the product of personal damage done by reactionary attacks, that acquired a political manifestation. The seminal example was the brutal beating of Galloway by the Zionist assailant Neil Masterson in August 2014, a violent attack on a 60-year-old by a vicious thug 20 years younger. It caused broken bones; it could even have been fatal. At the time Galloway was the member of parliament for Bradford West, yet virtually no one parliament, or even in the Labour Party had the political courage to condemn the assault and show basic solidarity with the victim. Not Corbyn, not McDonnell, not Abbott. Not any of them. The only MP in the British parliament who dared to condemn the attack was the sole Green MP Caroline Lucas. Most of the ‘far left’ also said nothing to condemn the assault.
Such a betrayal can easily produce disorientation and hatred of those who purport to be on the left, on the part of the victim. There is evidence that some of these things happened to George Galloway. There was a political change in Galloway after that betrayal that was not present previously. This is shown over questions of Brexit, and immigration. The shift in politics was clear – in 2009 when RMT leader Bob Crow initiated the electoral intervention No 2 EU, Yes to Democracy which was a precursor of Lexit, Galloway refused to be involved, saying he did not like the anti-immigrant nationalism that was implicit in it. In fact, in the whole of his political career up to the watershed of 2014, Galloway often boasted of being “the most pro-immigrant politician in Britain”. Though his actual position was similar to the CP position of demanding ‘non-racist’ immigration controls, he was certainly not seen as in any way hostile to immigrants.
However, after the 2014 beating and the evidence disillusionment with the left that came flowed from it, Galloway adapted to the right-wing populism that came to be expressed over Brexit and the rise of Trump. He joined with Farage during the 2016 Brexit referendum in something called the Grassroots Alliance. Later, as the various clamours in favour of a second referendum were made from elements of the Labour Party, cynical mischief-making from the right (e.g. Starmer) and genuine disquiet at the anti-immigrant implications of Brexit from the left, Galloway volunteered to become a candidate for Farage’s short-lived Brexit Party in the 2019 General Election. Such was the disquiet at these positions that it appeared reasonable to us, even as the Corbyn movement was coming to an end, to be opposed to votes for Galloway’s new-born Workers Party organisation, originally born in a bloc with the Brar family’s Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), a hard-line Maoist-Stalinist group. They has also at times shown softness on ‘working-class’ right-wing populism, and hailed Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential election as a “blow” against “the imperialist system” and for “progressive humanity”.
Right Populism and the Working Class
This adaptation by some of the most militant, anti-imperialist elements on the left to right-wing populism is paradoxical, but also has its roots in the contradictions and decline of neoliberalism, which have given rise to working class support for this kind of right-wing populism in the first place. The biggest problem that has militated in the 20th Century against working class revolution and socialism in the advanced, imperialist countries, has been the subliminal understanding by a labour aristocracy – a well paid layer of the working class – that they benefited from the activities of imperialism in plundering and unequal exchange, sucking value out of the economies of poorer, underdeveloped capitalist countries and providing a material basis for social gains and benefits for militant workers in the advanced countries. This sizeable labour aristocracy, and the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist labour bureaucracy that sits on top of it, is a major force in determining the pro-imperialist politics of the trade unions and what Lenin called ‘bourgeois labour parties’ in the imperialist countries (Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, 1916). But recently there has been a change, as the large-scale export of productive, industrial jobs from particularly the main Anglo-Saxon imperialist countries, the US and Britain, to the Far East (particularly China) has hollowed out that social reality and represents a massive attack on the living standards of workers who were very much influenced by that sense of benefitting from imperialism.
The result has been a growing “workless class” of formerly proud and militant workers, now degraded and impoverished, with their families prey to opiates and the like, who previously supported the bourgeois labour parties (or the left of the Democrats in the US, who sometimes used to pretend to be something similar). They adopted an imperial nostalgia, demanding their old living standards back again. Hence “Make America Great Again” as the slogan of the Trumpists in the US. The resentment of many US workers against China is fuelled by the fact that China has become a major industrial power, the “workshop of the world” as an unintended and unexpected by-product of this imperialist profiteering operation, which was originally intended to be at the expense of the Chinese workers also. But China’s hybrid character as a former workers state with considerable still state ownership and centralised economic management overlaying its own capitalism, allowed them to resist being screwed in this way. Hence the violent anti-Chinese resentment that fires up the Trumpists in the US. And working class support for Brexit here had a similar basis – the real thrust of working-class right-wing support for Farage was ‘Make Britain Great Again’, very similar to Trumpism.
The adaptation of Galloway (and the CPGB-ML) to Brexit, Trumpism and the like is based on a misunderstanding and one-sided interpretation of a complex development that has arisen in real life. Right-wing populism is a post-imperial delusion. But it can also be a short-lived phase of disillusionment and trauma for sections of the working class. Brexit in Britain has not benefitted the working class at all. It has further degraded working class people. The ultimate outcome of this in terms of working-class consciousness has to be a realisation that this demand that the neoliberal imperialist bourgeoisie give back to the working class their former privileged status, simply will not happen. It is materially impossible. Once that becomes obvious to the masses – and it will – then the inescapable conclusion can only be that working class people in Britain and the US have a common interest with the working class of countries that have been oppressed and plundered by imperialism. It must lead to those sections of the proletariat in advanced countries, who previously saw their interests as counterposed to those of workers in the oppressed countries, joining a real international proletarian movement.
A Genuine Workers Party is Needed, not a Bourgeois Workers’ Party
So why this apparent digression? The reason should be obvious. The two parties whose leading figures have founded No to Nato, No to War, both aspire to found real ‘Workers’ and ‘Socialist Labour’ Parties. This is crucial. We need to properly understand the roots of working-class illusions in right-wing populism in order to overcome both those illusions, and the confusions of some on the left who have at time been influenced by such illusions. As a Marxist tendency, we seek to replace the bourgeois Labour Party that the British working class has been saddled with for more than a century, with the genuine article, a real workers party. We can only welcome this development and regard it as a positive step.
It does appear that the outbreak of the imperialist proxy war in Ukraine has sharply pulled Galloway back to the left, to found a coalition along with the leading active representative of the SLP, that itself, like the movement against the Iraq War in the early 2000s, has the potential not merely to generate another anti-war protest movement, but to generate a new class party. This weakness towards populism and Trumpism, with its chauvinist element, needs to be overcome in further political struggles.
Galloway’s speech at the No 2 Nato conference on 25th February, where he fervently welcomed, as a likely outcome of a defeat for US imperialist hegemony, the global defeat of imperialism, is very much at odds with the thrust of Brexitism and Trumpism. The outbreak of the war in Ukraine has led to Galloway being galvanised as an opponent of imperialism and his speech of 25th Feb itself points to that next stage in the evolution of working class consciousness, if the implications are properly understood:
“the Pentagon issued a warning to China three days ago before president Xi’s peace proposals, when they didn’t know what was in the peace proposals: ‘There will be consequences for China should it choose to deepen its relations with Russia’. Think of the arrogance first of all of that – we’ll come to the stupidity. But think of the arrogance, of one superpower, threatening a second superpower, with ‘consequences’ were it to decide to have more friendly relations with a third party. The sense of exceptionalism you must feel to think you are entitled to do that. To think that you are entitled to warn other countries of who they can be friends with.
“But let’s turn to the stupidity of it. You know from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger onwards it was the policy of the United States to keep Russia and China as far apart as it was possible to keep them, and, if possible, to keep them at each other’s throats. In the last few years the policy of the United States and NATO has made Russia and China virtually one country, certainly militarily and economically, one country, and now, they think China is going to obey orders from somebody called Anthony Blinken? The day when China could be ordered around by foreigners is OVER, OVER, OVER! Ditto South Africa. South Africa was warned ‘why are you having joint exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies?’ As the leadership in South Africa pointed out: ‘when you Western colonialist countries were supporting the apartheid dictatorship in South Africa, the only countries that stood with us were Russia and China, and you want us to consider them our enemies?’
“I’m so old, I was there. Every dinner that the African National Congress fighters ate in the bush came from Russia. Every uniform that they had, every gun that they carried, every international initiative, campaign, that they were able to mount to bring about the freedom of South Africa, came from the then Soviet Union and from China. And now you want South Africa to be an enemy of Russia and China? Are you crazy? And South Africa has said ‘No’! India has said ‘No’! Iran has said ‘No’! Latin America, from North to South, has said ‘No’! Asia has said ‘No’! The Arab world, even the Saudis, and the Kings and the Sheikhs in the desert, have said ‘No’! The world is not against Russia and China! Don’t imagine you speak for the world!
“‘The West’ – if you include in it countries that are very definitely not in the West. The last time I looked Australia is not in the West, New Zealand is not in the West. But even if you allow them to call themselves ‘The West’, is 13% of the people of the world, of the world’s population lives in what could loosely be described as ‘the West’. And we are here to say, even in the West, there are millions and millions and millions of us who reject your domination, and your wars, and your clubs.”
We need to build No2Nato, No2War as a broad anti-war bloc to mobilise opposition to the NATO proxy war, and we cannot be doctrinaire or purist about this. But we must also use the movement to propagate the highest level of revolutionary politics and programme, based on the elementary view that the main enemy is at home. Indeed, that was said clearly by the initiators of No2Nato on 25th Feb. Out of such an anti-war movement a new working-class party can and must be born. Two important components of such a party are already in place in No2Nato, the SLP and Workers Party. We advocate a principled unification of them and the creation of a bigger, broader party able to appeal to more workers and with a democratic ethos, evoking Chris Williamson’s work in the Labour Party under Corbyn, that would be capable of political and programmatic development towards a genuinely communist, anti-capitalist mass party. Not another sect on the rigid model of the Third or Fourth internationals, but something that could go much further and lead masses of workers in the process, as happened in Russia once before. Nor is this going to be any parochial process, as the founding resolution of No2Nato said, it must be global. We see our work with (currently) smaller revolutionary groups around the globe in trying to cohere an international Zimmerwald type left as complementary to involvement in endeavours like this. All avenues must be explored, and the emergence of a new international movement to abolish capitalism globally is likely to be uneven. It still has to be embarked upon, and this is a start.
February 24 will mark the first anniversary of Russia coming to the aid of the people in the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, defending those in the Eastern Ukraine region that had seceded in 2014 due to the Kiev regime’s Neo-Nazi ties. German fascism was the spearhead used by imperialism to try and destroy the workers state Soviet Union in World War 2. Fascist forces have once again been utilised by imperialism within Ukraine, this time to target the people of the Donbass and capitalist Russia. Now that the US/EU/NATO bloc have dropped their policy of limited intervention for open esculation, the world is once again on the brink of a destructive war between nuclear armed powers.
For 30 years, NATO has lied to the Russian people and closed the distance between NATO aligned countries and the Russian border. Russophobia has been a convenient cover for imperialism as it dismisses any concerns about NATO’s ambition to place weapons on the border between Russia and Ukraine as Russian aggression. We now know that every step of so-called diplomacy of the Minsk Agreeement were nothing more than broken promises and opportunities to further prepare for imperialist war. Angela Merkel and former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko have both admitted the Minsk agreeement was aimed to stall Russia so NATO could supply Ukraine with weaponry.
The fascist militias and battalions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces terrorized the citizens of Donbass between 2014 and 2022, killing thousands of civilians and ultimately leaving Russia no choice but to launch an offensive in the region to protect the Russian speaking population. Russians have never forgotten how many of their ancestors, who fought as citizens of the Soviet Union, died to defeat Nazi Germany during WWII. Given this history it was intolerable for many Russians to see the resurgence of the likes of Stepan Bandera gaining a foothold to threaten Russia at the behest of imperialism.
Ukraine has been propped up by imperialist forces from the beginning of the conflict and Zelenskyy is increasingly calling for more aid from the West, first long range missiles, then tanks and now in fighter jets, There appears to be no “red line” the West imperialists will not cross as they escalate the conflict. In addition to the billions in weapons, the imperialists have stooped to terrorism over the past year, blowing up the Nordstream pipeline and launching terrorist attacks within Russian territory.
The US/EU/NATO alliance is prepared to destroy the working class of their own countries to undermine Russia, destabilise the region and make way for territorial conquest. Many citizens are feeling the real consequences of rampant militarism in the US, UK, France, and across all of Europe in the form of austerity and inflation. As many liberal forces bay for war, it is the working class that pays the price. US president Joe Biden has overseen upwards of $100 billion dollars in equipment sent to Ukraine, at a time when Americans are facing layoffs, pay cuts, and growing unrest.
A victory for the US/EU/NATO bloc in the current war would spell devastation for the world anti-imperialist struggle. It would likely lead to break up of Russia and the opening up of its resources for full exploitation by Western Imperialism. The removal of Russia as a military obstacle would accelerate the war drive of US against the Peoples Republic of China to complete its aim to dominate the Eurasian landmass. The proxy war against Russia is inseparable from the war drive against China.
The failure of so many Marxist groups across all traditions to oppose the imperialist war against Russia has been an historic failure. However out of this failure comes the opportunity for genuinely anti-imperialist forces to join together overcoming traditional sectarian divides. In this way building the struggle against the war against Russia is a stepping stone to rebuilding and uniting the international Communist movement and towards the ultimate victory of socialism! Defeat for the Nato-led imperialist alliance! Victory to the resistance! No cooperation with imperialist war!
Anti-War West Sydney (Australia)
Bolshevik Group (South Korea)
Classconscious.org (US and Australia)
Communist Revolutionary Action (Greece)
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, and its sections:
Consistent Democrats (Great Britain)
Liga Comunista (Brazil)
Socialist Workers League (United States)
Tendance Militante Bolchevique (Argentina)
Mohammad Basirul Haq Sinha, from: Socialist Republican Movement [Bangladesh]
National Democratic People’s Front (NDPF) (India)
Partido Comunista do Povo Brasileiro, PCPB – Brasil; (Communist Party of the Brazilian People – PCPB -Brazil)
Partido Obrero Socialista/Socialist Workers Party (Costa Rica)
posadiststoday.com (Great Britain)
Red Line (Greece)
Socialist Unity Party (United States)
Socialist Fight (Great Britain)
US Friends of the Soviet People (United States)
Workers Socialist Party (India)
Mark Andresen (Great Britain)
Fábio Sobral (Brazil)
Fernando Gaebler / Organización Internacional Comunista (Brazil)
Askar Aisin (Kazakhstan)
Samuel Welborn, Chair of the John Reed Cell of the Party of Communists USA
Tim Lauby (USA)
Sayialel Salaon (Kenya)
Rainer Shea (USA)
Paul Collins (Great Britain)
Brecht Jonkers (Belgium)
if anyone else would like to endorse the statement, please email email@example.com
We condemn the 29th Jan attack on drone attack on Iran, aimed at sabotage of a military installation in Isfahan, that was apparently perpetrated by Israel’s Mossad spy and terrorism agency. The Zionist state is a close ally of the US and an imperialist power in its own right. It has a large contingent of supporters in the US ruling class even if it does appear that the US is dissociating itself from the current action and stating its non-involvement in the attack. These acts of military sabotage are clearly serving a two-pronged agenda. One is harassment of Iran, whose government is friendly to Russia and has been accused by Ukraine and its quartermaster and defender of supplying Russia with its own drone technology. This is said to be for use in the current Special Military Operation to defend the people of the Donbass from the NATO-backed war by Ukraine’s brutal, Nazi-infested regime of torture, murder and wannabe ethnic-cleansing.
It is increasingly well known that Israel has played an important role in funding and arming Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, particularly the Azov Batallion. As the Lebanese news agency Al Mayadeen reported recently:
“In recent days, a delegation of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion – an openly neo-Nazi battalion – has met with Israeli officials in the military and the establishment, in “Israel.”
The Azov and Aidar battalions – two of the most prominent neo-Nazi parties that have been accused of greasing bullets with pig fat to shoot Muslims – have been active on the ground in disenfranchised areas in eastern Ukraine before the said area joined Russia by popular referendum earlier this year. The battalions are official bodies within the Ukrainian military.
The Azov delegation arrived in “Israel” on Thursday, and was led by Ilya Samoilenko, who led the battles in Mariupol at the Azovstal steel factory. Yulia Fedosyul, who is the deputy head of the ‘Association of Azovsatal Defenders’ Families’, also joined the delegation.
Israel and Zionism have a long history of collaboration with Nazism, including during the WW2 period when millions of Jews were being murdered by the same Nazis, to promote its own imperialist settler-colonial project. Now it is a firm part of US imperialism’s war in Ukraine; the rise back to power of Netanyahu in coalition with what can only be called Judeo-Nazis, the ‘Jewish Power’ party of the open follower of Meir Kahane (Israel’s historic fascist leader), Itamar Ben-Gvir, has given a boost to such collaboration with the far right internationally. Unlike in the days when they idolised Hitler, today’s far right generally see Israel as successful ethnocracy based on racial supremacy and, crucially, undefeated.
The other prong is pursuit of Israel’s own agenda in defending its own campaign of ethnic cleansing and terror against the Palestinian people. Israel has always sought to destroy, or get its allies to destroy, any strong nearby Muslim and/or Arab state that it perceives as a material and political challenger to its dispossession of the Palestinians. Though the US is still involved in manoeuvring with the public aim of resurrecting Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal (junked by Trump), and such armed actions are inconvenient to it right now, it is fully aware that Israel would like it to attack Iran the way it attacked Iraq. The US would also like to see the Islamic Republic fall, perhaps by a US-backed ‘colour revolution’ to install a pro-US regime and would no doubt like to utilise the current protests and discontent in Iran over women’s rights, though it is my no means clear that it has the influence to do that.
At the same time, Israel is provoking conflict with its armed settlers by killing Palestinians. It would like to openly annex much more territory and is brutally murdering Palestinians daily on the West Bank, such as the recent killings in Jenin, as well as brutally bombing Gaza. Its far-right coalition is also preparing legal attacks (and perhaps more than that) on Palestinians who live as second-class citizens in Israel itself (so-called Israeli Arabs).
We condemn these attacks on Iran, and call for its defence against Zionist and any other imperialist attack or attempt to replace it with a pro-Western puppet. We defend Iran against imperialism just as we defend Russia. And we condemn Israel’s brutal oppression and crimes against the Palestinian people, to which these are clearly linked.
Class Conscious (United States and Australia)
Communist Party of the Brazilian People
Communist Action Group (Greece)
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, and its sections:
Here is our 28th Jan protest opposite Downing Street, organised under the umbrella of International Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity, around the demands:
FREE ALL UKRAINIAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!
RESTORE FULL POLIITICAL AND MEDIA FREEDOMS!
END THE FASCIST REIGN OF TERROR!
It was a spirited united front demonstration of a variety of left-wing political currents united by the need to oppose imperialism, its support for fascism and attacks on democratic rights in Ukraine, with around 25 participants. Present were supporters of the New Communist Party, Consistent Democrats-LCFI, Socialist Fight, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Socialist Labour Party, Posadists, and others.
The declaration republished below was endorsed by the Marxists Speak Out/Worldonfire bloc of revolutionary Anti-imperialist Communists and Socialists at the end of last year. Along with some of the individual components of that bloc, including the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, Class Conscious, and the Bolshevik Group of Korea. Notwithstanding a reservation particularly about the characterisation of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China as historically ‘socialist’, when we consider that the socialist elements of these planned economies were undermined by the bureaucracies which ruled these degenerated and deformed workers states. However despite this point of historical difference the declaration is a clear, class based anti-imperialist appeal with which we heartily concur.
The body that initiated the declaration, the World Anti-Imperialist Platform (wap21.org), replied that they wish to engage in a process of testing out the politics of those who wish to endorse the declaration before accepting endorsements. Obviously this is related to the Trotskyist politics of Marxists Speak Out and its components. However, considering that some of the chief organisers of the Paris Declaration, particularly the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) are also proud supporters of the Stalin Society, we regard this response as grounds for optimism. These circumstances demand unity and collaboration of all subjective communists against imperialism, and it has always been the position of genuine Trotskyists that we urgently seek united action and mobilisation with those involved in the official Communist movement against imperialism. It is very unfortunate that only the collapse of the workers states, and the old bureaucracy with it, and now this imperialist proxy war to colonise and subjugate Russia has made such collaboration a realistic possibility, but that is a matter of history.
We stand at a moment of grave peril for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere, in which the imperialist war drive is pushing us towards a third world war and a nuclear conflagration.
Even as Nato’s aggression in Ukraine is failing both militarily and economically, the USA’s desperation to save its hegemonic position in the world means it cannot back down, but is instead looking for ways to expand and prolong the war. In the face of all experience, it seems that the imperialists still hope they can find a way to wear down all resistance to their rule and come out on top.
As a result, we face the prospect of the Ukraine war spilling over into neighbouring countries in Europe and central Asia – and also of the outbreak of hostilities in several other theatres further east. Recent US provocations in Taiwan, alongside its ceaseless ratcheting up of tensions with the DPRK and China on every front, make this all too clear.
At this moment of historic importance, we, the undersigned parties, agree that the following essential points should be made clear to the masses of the world, and should guide our antiwar and anti-imperialist work:
That the slogans of true anti-imperialists in this time must be: Defeat for the Nato-led imperialist alliance! Victory to the resistance! No cooperation with imperialist war!
That the present war in Ukraine is not the result of ‘Russian aggression’ but of this western imperialist drive to war – in particular, the war drive of the USA.
That the war really began when the USA and its allies financed, armed and organised a fascist coup in Kiev in 2014, and that the Russian side, in its alliance with the peoples of the Donbass, is engaged in a war of self-defence and national liberation against imperialist attack.
That the war drives against China and the DPRK are also a result of imperialist aggression, and that, no matter who fires the first shot, if the threatened conflicts break out in Korea or Taiwan, those wars will likewise be wars of anti-imperialist self-defence and national liberation waged by the Korean and/or Chinese people.
That Russia and China’s ability to defend themselves and others does not indicate expansionist ambitions or imperialist economics; it is based in decades of planning for self-defence, initiated by the socialist governments of the USSR and the PRC.
That there is no economic data to justify characterising China or Russia as imperialist. These are countries that do not live by superexploiting or looting the world. They do not put other countries into military, technological or debt slavery. On the contrary, the beneficial terms of trade and the technological and military assistance they offer are giving smaller developing countries the chance to break out of imperialist enslavement.
That Russia and China are the targets of imperialist aggression because both by retaining their own independence, and by assisting other nations to gain theirs, they represent a serious threat to the imperialists’ world hegemony.
That the growing alliance between Russia and China offers hope to the people of the world: hope of an alternative to US domination and imperialist superexploitation. A strong anti-imperialist camp is our peoples’ best defence against the aggressive plans of the bloodthirsty Nato alliance – our best defence against the looming threat of nuclear war.
That antiwar activists must mobilise the masses in their countries for a campaign of active non-cooperation with the imperialist war effort aimed at sabotaging Nato’s war machinery in every way possible. We must refuse to fight in or assist Nato’s armies (direct or proxy). We must refuse to transport Nato’s men and materiel. We must refuse to allow Nato’s bases to operate unimpeded on our territories. We must refuse to manufacture or supply Nato’s armaments and other vital equipment. We must refuse to broadcast, print or distribute imperialist propaganda lies; and refuse to cooperate with imperialist trade and sanctions wars.
That the accelerating war drive, economic crisis, hunger crisis, environmental crisis and more all make it abundantly clear that the need to remove the imperialist economic system is more urgent than ever.
That the slogans of true anti-imperialists in this time must be: Defeat for the Nato-led imperialist alliance! Victory to the resistance! No cooperation with imperialist war!
Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), Britain People’s Democracy Party, south Korea Pole of Communist Revival in France, France Korea is One, Belgium Baltic Platform, Eastern Europe Communist Party, Italy Communist Party, Switzerland Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan Eastern Initiative, Eastern Europe Hungarian Workers’ Party, Hungary Italian Communist Party, Italy National Association of Communists, France New Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Serbia Spanish Avantgarde, Spain
Chilean Communist Party (Proletarian Action), Chile Socialist Workers Party, Croatia Platform for Independence, Greece Communist Party of Peru (Patria Roja) Collective of Struggle for the Revolutionary Unification of Humanity, Greece People’s Party of Panama United Socialist Party of Venezuela Unión Proletaria, Spain
The declaration remains open for socialist and anti-imperialist organisations to sign, and the number of signatories is expected to grow significantly over the coming period as the imperialist war drive intensifies and spreads and the Platform continues its work.