A Critical Vote for Howard Beckett!

Unite General Secretary Election

Re-arm the left and the Unions to take on this Criminal Government!

Howard Beckett

The upcoming election for General Secretary of Unite the Union, the biggest trade union in Britain, offers an opportunity for working class people to strike back against the political defeats of our class represented by the sabotage of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn by the Blairite and Zionist right wing. The candidacy of Howard Beckett, who has strongly criticised the Labour leadership of Keir Starmer with its witchhunts against the left, its antipathy to trade unionists and organised workers, and its re-Blairisation of the Labour Party under the guidance of Peter Mandelson, who also advises Boris Johnson, has been like a breath of fresh air after the previous capitulations of the Labour left.

Beckett has taken on the Labour right wing in a manner that no prominent figure in the Labour Party or labour movement did in the entire Corbyn era from 2015-2020, including of course Corbyn himself. He has taken on Labour’s Blairite/Zionist stooge leader head on and that is the centrepiece of his campaign. In some ways the things that he has said are exceptional for a candidate in an internal union election. On 14th June he Tweeted simply: “Starmer must go” following earlier Tweets where he said: “If Labour HQ continues down its path and no longer speaks for working people, it will not be getting Unite money if I am general secretary.” These are not exceptional; he has said many similar things over the past several weeks. But his onslaught against the treacherous Starmer leadership of Labour is escalating and is becoming utterly counterposed to the other two ostensibly ‘left-wing’ candidates, Steve Turner and Sharon Graham.

Beckett went into more depth in his forthright attack on Labour’s right-wing leadership in an interview on 8th May with Revolutionary Socialism in the 21 Century, where he elaborated:

“He’s not a success as a leader. What’s going on now is a dereliction of duty with his failure to offer a narrative on zero Covid, or a narrative on nationalisation when it’s most needed, or resistance to fire and rehire. If he continues on the course he’s on he’ll become irrelevant, and Labour is quickly becoming a party of the establishment.

“It is for the Labour Party to prove its relationship with unions, and if it doesn’t speak on a daily, weekly, monthly basis on behalf of working people then it will become irrelevant to working people. But if that does happen, the union movement will not be found wanting. If I am general secretary, the union movement will step into that vacuum and talk with and for our communities, educate our communities and talk about socialism.

“Unite has already reduced our affiliation and we’re on record as saying we will have to take great care that any further money is given to those who share our values. If they continue on this path there will be debates not just about regular funding and funding around elections but also about affiliation, and I will happily facilitate those debates. The only language the leadership understand at the moment is the language you would be giving to a bad employer.”

https://www.rs21.org.uk/2021/05/08/unite-elections-an-interview-with-howard-beckett/

However, he is not confining himself to politicking within the Labour Party milieu. He is, as least verbally, putting forward an agenda of class struggle which is somewhat unusual to hear from an aspiring leader of a trade union in this period, and appears to be pitching to lead a left-wing political movement, not just a campaign for a leading trade union position:

“Steve Turner is running on the idea of partnership with employers. I reject that. When you talk in that language it diminishes the fact that we are in a class struggle.”

“I am banging the drum for Unite to have its own TV channel, with regular interviews with high-profile politicians and activists, constant news and evaluation of industrial and political landscape. It could be used for advice, distilling information for our reps, and even cookery shows. If we start talking to wider society the next generation will see exactly what a union does, understand the importance of collectivism and want to be part of this.”

“If the laws are trying to restrict liberties then they should be defied. As soon as we start accepting them as valid then our liberties are lost, and it becomes only a matter of time before our entire movement is lost. Unite’s rule book has been changed to make a statement about Unite stepping outside of the law. It is becoming a reality for us now.”

“Strikes. Strikes! Targeted strike action. Simple as that. The idea that protecting the NHS is done by making speeches? Nonsense. People should be in Unite because they need to be in a union that will take the fight to the government. If we can’t make the argument for reversing privatisation now after Covid then frankly we all deserve what we get. If we can’t make an argument about care homes coming into public ownership under the NHS then we deserve what we get, and if we can’t defend the argument for a 15% pay rise then we deserve what we get. Here and now the reality for all of us there needs to be strategic, targeted industrial action.”

ibid

He is also a champion of Unite’s Community Section, which organises retired, unemployed and other unwaged working-class people both to fight for their own interests and as a wider support and auxiliary of the social and industrial power of the union.

One negative point about Beckett, where he displayed weakness, albeit in November 2020 before the Unite leadership issue became central, was when under pressure from the right and the Zionists, he pulled out of an event calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement because expelled Labour member and Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein was also a speaker. Greenstein is a hate figure of the Zionists and those who share platform with expelled anti-Zionists are immediately added to the list of targets. However, a few weeks later in December, at a NEC meeting discussing the Tory-stooge Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report smearing sections of the Labour left as anti-Semitic, he challenged aspects of the process, tweeting “My NEC report for Unite will record being denied access to submissions to the EHRC, denied a debate on suspensions; denied debate on the importance of protecting lawful speech.” (https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/unite-union-official-beckett-criticised-over-his-response-to-labour-antisemitism-meeting-1.509469). Beckett is a union official, not a Palestine solidarity activist, but his statements on the recent Zionist atrocities make clear that he is an outspoken opponent of these crimes which have had such a major impact on the labour movement in Britain these last few years.

Smears and Witchhunting of Beckett

He has more recently himself had a taste of the cynicism of the fake ‘racism’ allegations of the right and the fake-left, when he was himself suspended from Labour for a tweet in solidarity with a large, militant crowd of anti-racists in Glasgow who physically prevented immigration officials from seizing two Indian Muslims who were under threat of deportation. Beckett, clearly enraged by the racism of the Home Office led by Priti Patel, the far-right Tory capo, Modi-supporting anti-Muslim fascistic Hindutva bigot and Israeli stooge, who clearly ordered the action, tweeted on 13 May: “Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees. She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism.”.

Labour doublethink says this tweet is racist

He quickly apologised and said his tweet was not meant to be taken literally. Various liberals who claim to be on the left, and the Labour leadership, howled with outrage at Beckett’s supposed ‘racism’ for forgetting that the Home Secretary who ordered a racist atrocity, one of many, is also not white. But this is drivel, as usual his accusers for the most part have no problems with deporting ethnic minority people, or even if they have in theory, would not dream of refusing to support Labour’s own racist and sociopathic levy of deporters seeking government office. Anyone with half-a-brain and an ounce of honesty can see that Beckett was expressing outrage at state racism, not supporting it. He really has nothing to apologise for, and his suspension is just another piece of scandalous Starmerite dishonesty.

Apparently as part of the bilious campaign against him the Starmerites are now moving toward his expulsion from the Labour Party, supposedly for ‘racism’ against Johnson’s deporter-in-chief. Which just underlines the nature of the Zionist-led Labour Party where people are expelled with smears of ‘racism’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ for opposing the organised racist and Zionist trends that dominate Labour. Including several former Blairite Home Secretaries who could give Theresa May or Priti Patel a run for their money in the migrant-bashing stakes – Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, Jacqui Smith, Alan Johnson, all anti-migrant xenophobic lowlife in the same mould as Patel. Labour has never expelled such vile people, but they now propose to expel a leading union left-winger for supporting direct action against racist deportations. That is a sign of ‘racism’ in their racist fantasy world.

Another related hysterical attack on Beckett came from the Daily Mail (3rd June) quoting him as saying “The government has 143 military bases in 42 countries – money that could be spent on reinforcing flood defences, making sites available for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, support for youth within communities, support for women suffering from domestic and gender-based violence”. This is some very basic social reform, and a classic left-reformist scheme, but the anti-gypsy angle is clear in the headline “Howard Beckett calls for UK’s multi-billion defence budget to pay for gypsy and traveller sites”. This accompanies their horror-filled relating that Beckett has the support of Labour Black Socialists (precisely because of his outspokenness in defence of migrants and refugees), and the Blairite Kevan Jones complaining that “Thousands of Unite members play a vital role supporting our country’s defence. I think they will take a dim view of this suggestion by someone whose position is funded by their union subscriptions.”

All this has the effect of exposing more and more the mendacity, racist and chauvinist politics behind the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaigns and the like that simply lie about the left in the service of the foulest bigotry.

Unite Election: Political Struggle not Stitch-Ups

Since then, he has been the target of similar hysteria from the soft left. In the hustings/vote for the support of the political machine known as the United Left (UL) within Unite, which is dominated by trade unionist cadre of the Communist Party of Britain, Beckett only narrowly failed to get nominated as the UL candidate, by three votes.  However there seems to be evidence that dozens of paid-up UL supporters who wanted to vote for Beckett were not allowed to vote, due to ‘technical’ problems involving an email address/server, and the legitimacy of this vote is hotly disputed by not only Beckett, but many on the wider left. This brought the machinery of the CP/B into play to get numerous nominations from branches for Turner; by the time the deadline was up he had 525, with Graham beating Beckett by 349 to 328. The openly right-wing candidate, Gerard Coyne, came last with 196 candidates.

However, nominations through formal union bodies do not necessarily equate to votes in a union election, as these bodies tend to be dominated by the bureaucracy, activists, and those closest to the formal structures of the union. The strategy of Coyne will be to rely on the influence of the right-wing gutter press to appeal over the heads of the union structure to the atomised members. However, the strategy of Beckett also seems to be based on an attempt at an aggressive political appeal to class sentiment, also over the heads of the officialdom, based on a left-wing hostility to Starmer and his supporters, something that Turner and his CPB supporters are actively hostile to from a Labour-loyal perspective, and which Graham flinches from in the name of ‘non-political’ trade unionism.

Given the recent history of Unite, this is not a forlorn strategy. Beckett could succeed, and in the process push the politics of the union much further to the left. Capitulators to Blairism and softer elements on the left, personified by Owen Jones, contend that three putative left-wing candidates standing are likely to divide the ‘left’ vote and hand the union over to the right winger Coyne. But that is not necessarily true, looking at the history of recent General Secretary elections in Unite. Apart from the fact that given his conciliation of Starmer, Turner’s designation as a left candidate is something of an exaggeration. Much depends on the quality of the campaigns waged by the candidates.

In 2010, there were four candidates: Len McCluskey (ex-Militant left-wing bureaucrat and the current retiring GS), Jerry Hicks (widely renowned victimised rank-and-file militant from Bristol Rolls Royce), Gail Cartmail (soft left ‘socialist-feminist’ and current assistant GS of Unite) and Les Bayliss, a right-winger similar to Coyne today. Bayliss came third; this was a highly political contest between McCluskey with bureaucratic ‘left’ politics and the revolutionary-minded militant Hicks, who put up a hell of a fight. Both of the top two left candidates beat Bayliss. In a repeat election in 2013 where the only two candidates were Hicks, the polarisation was stronger, and a similar result obtained where McCluskey beat Hicks by 2 to 1. Hicks improved vote of 79,819 showed there was a substantial base for political militancy in Unite. Only in 2017 was the result close, where McCluskey, in what was widely seen as an unnecessary and cynical election aimed at prolonging his own term in office, only narrowly beat Coyne. Another rank-and-file trade union militant, Ian Allinson, who appeared much less well-known than Jerry Hicks, failed to make major inroads and only gained 13% of the vote.

But that election appears very different to this one. McCluskey by then was a busted flush, and barely clung on by his fingernails, and the election itself a demoralising exercise. This is shaping up to be a highly political election fight, a real battle for the ‘soul’ of Unite, the biggest union in Britain, by forces around Beckett who hope to drive a campaign to re-arm the kind of leftist sentiment that drove support for Corbyn, and to drive the labour movement itself back to the left. That is the danger that the right-wing see from Beckett’s campaign, and why there has been a hysterical response from Starmer’s supporters.

Beckett (right) confronts Siobhan McDonagh on BBC Newsnight

Such as Beckett being ‘reported’ to the police by Margaret Hodge for supposedly ‘secretly’ planning, during the period of Corbyn’s leadership, for the union to support the ousting of anti-Corbyn right-wing MPs. As Beckett pointed out sharply on BBC Newsnight (3rd June), there was nothing secret about this campaign, as he had made public speeches about it at the time. He also told Siobhan McDonagh – the idiot Blairite who had previously said that merely opposing capitalism was ‘anti-Semitic’ (presumably because for her capitalists and Jews are synonymous!) – that she was in the wrong party. He mocked the hypocrisy of the right wing denouncing those who attack Starmer’s leadership given the planned and organised sabotage of Labour election campaigns by them when Corbyn was leader. Beckett’s tough and uncompromising response in this Newsnight interview gave a big boost to his campaign and humiliated the right.

Bureaucratic splintering and militant trade unionism

As his detractors have been keen to point out, he is not a rank-and-file worker. He is of Irish Catholic working-class background, born in Belfast, and someone who went to university and became a solicitor. He worked for the Union for a long period and is undoubtedly simply by virtue of his occupation wealthier than many union members. There have been various ‘scandals’ alleged by the right wing against him, including that when he was appointed Head of Legal Services at Unite, his previous legal partnership was sold to another union-connected firm for over £2.6 million, which he gained a share of. It is also apparently true that he owns three properties, is a property millionaire, and there was a fine against his firm levied by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority several years ago in a dispute related to solicitors’ fees in a case about miners’ compensation. The latter case has been particularly made use of for a smear campaign against him by the right wing – he addressed the events in some depth in his interview with RS21:

“I never took a penny of compensation from injured miners. I was fined because a cashier had stolen money from a probate file which had the Girl Guides and Guide Dogs for the Blind as beneficiaries. This cashier was in her sixties, and I felt it was an aberration. I was worried that she would be sent to jail so instead of reporting it to the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) or to the police I gave her the opportunity of paying back the money in instalments, and the practice replaced the money. That was the reason for the fines. The media have tried to drag it into the miners because it suits them but I never took one penny of miner’s compensation, the practice never benefited from miners’ compensation and there was never one single complaint from a miner to that effect. I spoke at the Durham Miner’s Gala a couple of years ago and I think most people would understand that I wouldn’t have been invited to speak if there was any suggestion at all the practice had ever taken compensation off miners. You won’t find a single miner who raises these allegations, I can tell you that. It’s a lie, and if people want to verify that it’s a lie they can go on to the SRA website.”

RS21 op-cit

His background is hardly the stuff of trade union militancy at a rank-and-file level as in the heyday of union militancy that existing in Britain prior to the victories of Thatcher over the trade unions, most crucially in the miners’ strike of 1984-5. It is the stuff of a trade union movement that has been beaten and betrayed for decades. Betrayed particularly by the political class that has developed centrally in the political bureaucracy of the Labour Party, which has over several decades become something more than what it was at the time of the party’s emergence: an extension of the pro-capitalist bureaucracy of the trade unions. This bureaucratic layer in Britain historically had their own organic relationship to British industrial capital from the massive industrialisation that began in the late 18th Century, that continued at breakneck speed in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century, that marked time in much of the 20th before undergoing major decline as a result of a conscious ruling class strategy of exporting jobs and deindustrialisation, aimed at crippling the labour movement, in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

However, this has itself led to new polarisations, part of which were responsible for the rise of Corbynism as a reaction to Blairism. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, a pioneer of dialectical logic, once remarked that “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. This is a key insight, regarding the inevitability of continuous change and flux in all phenomena, which found its way into Hegel’s much more elaborated, but idealistic dialectic, which was inverted and given a consistently materialist foundation by Marx. In analysing the course of the class struggle such understanding is crucial.

 This finds concrete expression when you look at Blairism, and the changes in the right-wing of political labour bureaucracies, which have not occurred only in Britain, but Britain has become an archetype. The deindustrialisation of Britain, and the rise of financial capital which has replaced its former industrial power to a considerable degree as the index of Britain’s remaining power in the world as an imperialist nation, has modified the relationship between the labour bureaucracy and British capitalism and produced new polarisations.

As was noted in an article 23 published just over a year ago:

“… there has been a further development of imperialist capital …. catalysed by the further decay of capitalism as classically expressed in Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The fall in the rate of profit meant that the classical unity of industrial and banking capital exploiting a large scale industrial proletariat in the advanced countries became less and less profitable, and so industrial capital increasingly sought to do away with the proletariat, or as much of it as possible, in the classical imperialist countries, and migrated to underdeveloped countries in search of cheap labour to manufacture goods, the bulk of which at least initially were still for realisation in the advanced countries, thus raising the rate of profit. At the same time, the further decline in profit rates gave rise to drives in the imperialist centres to privatise everything that moved. Everything from prisons to public housing, from air traffic control to schools to hospital cleaning to probation officers, everything that could possibly if privatised be squeezed to obtain a morsel of profit and hence raise the overall rate of profit, was so privatised.

“This also modified the phenomenon of finance capital as a fusion of banking and industrial capital. The migration of important sections of industrial capital from the main imperialist countries, even though the funding, as before, came from the imperialist banking arm, produced a geographical separation between industrial and banking capital even though they remained a unity under the system of finance capital. This produced an emanation of finance capital which some Marxists, entirely reasonably, call financial capital, to distinguish it from finance capital in its classical form. Its function is not the methodical exploitation of the proletariat to generate surplus value, but tricks and novel methods of seemingly extracting value from nothing, by such means as the creation of asset price inflation (closely linked to the concept of ‘fictitious capital’), ‘futures’, or other innovative ‘financial products’ which also have the effect of seemingly conjuring up new value from nothing. Such as credit-default-swaps, which played a major role in the late-2000s financial crisis. Of course, speculation is not new under imperialism, but there are also questions of degree.”

[…]

“In any case, this is what has undermined the Labour Party, and produced a new breed of ‘labour’ politician who is not a mere servant of finance capital in a political sense, like the old labour bureaucrats who fought for national welfare states and supported their ‘own’ imperialist countries’ struggles to maintain imperial influence, while trying to ‘humanise’ this imperialism. The old Labour bureaucracy was personified by Attlee, who while conceding independence to India (he really had no choice) nevertheless fought brutal colonial wars in Malaysia (including Singapore) and Indonesia, also helping the French back into Indo-China, and crushed the nascent Kenyan independence movement and workers movement.  This kind of social chauvinism linked ‘welfare’ to support for colonial oppression.

“But it is somewhat different to the ‘labourism’ of Blair and Peter Mandelson, with his infamous statement as to how Labour is ‘intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich’. The former was subordination to finance capital, the latter is subordination to financial capital. This is not, by the way, a moral difference. Both of these things are deeply reactionary and the social-imperialism of old-Labour was itself mortally antagonistic to socialism. It is however a sociological difference – the old social imperialist bureaucracy still had a material connection to organised labour, if only as a parasite upon it. Whereas New Labour has no such necessary connection at all.”

https://www.consistent-democrats.org/uncategorized/no-vote-to-zionist-new-labour/

But this can, indeed must, lead to heightened contradictions between the Labour Party and the labour movement which was its seedbed. Today a key part of what was once the Labour Party bureaucracy is not connected by a class collaborationist relationship with industrial capital, and thereby finance capital, interested in preserving class peace by managing large, often militant, organised workforces with a great deal of social rhetoric and some reforms.

The traditional well organised industrial workforces have been considerably weakened, and the workforce that unions represent is much more fragmented and multi-sectored. Unions themselves have been weakened, by the strategic defeats inflicted on them in battle decades ago, by the passage of anti-union laws that the bosses have made stick for decades, by the export of heavy industrial jobs and hence the loss of industrial muscle, and by the fragmentation mentioned. But that never meant that class anger had died down. Just that the bosses had found ways to frustrate it and stop it being expressed. Or so they thought…. 

The ascent of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership in 2015 was a big shock to the ruling class. It became possible because under first Kinnock, and then with a vengeance under Blair and Brown, key parts of Labour’s traditional right-wing bureaucracy had become agents of financial capital instead of the older relationship described above.

The difference is crucial as these new leaders resembled the Tories they were supposed to be opposed to much more closely. They became privatisers; during the Blair-Brown period in office they introduced private sector neoliberal practice into public services with a fervour; they fomented a capitalist boom in tandem with other neoliberal forces abroad that ended in 2007 with a major financial crisis.

Corbynism in Relation to the Class Struggle

Corbyn rose to the Labour leadership paradoxically because under Blairism many of Labour’s most class-conscious followers had ceased to recognise it as Labour and ceased to vote for it. This loss of support so worried the Labour bureaucracy that they designed a novel scheme to try to entice support back: they allowed Labour supporters (not members) to vote for the leader for a nominal one-off sub payment of £3. In 2015 they lost the second General Election in a row, in large measure because of working class abstention. Even the soft-left Ed Miliband, who talked about a ‘crisis of working-class representation’ to get elected leader but did nothing to actually represent workers – could not entice support back that the Blairites had lost.

So, in the first leadership election under the new system, they also felt compelled to allow Corbyn on the ballot, for fear that the election for leader would appear fake if they did not. The rest is history. The presence of a genuine left social democrat on the ballot, with the newly opened-up election system, and a threatening, very right-wing purely Tory government under Cameron in the saddle, led to a massive influx of hundreds of thousands of new members and supporters, and an historic victory for Corbyn.

The right-wing counterattacks began at once, with the ‘Chicken Coup’ in 2016, the brazen sabotage of Labour’s highly successful election campaign in 2017, where Corbyn stripped Theresa May, the new Tory leader who had succeeded Cameron when he lost the Brexit referendum, of her majority, and then the developing ‘anti-Semitism’ Zionist propaganda lie and the cynical posturing of the right around supposedly being diehard opponents of Brexit, only to become rampant flag-shaggers and nationalists as soon as Corbyn had been forced out of the leadership. Everyone knows that the right-wing used every method they could think of to lose both the 2017 and 2019 General Elections and were utterly mortified when Corbyn came close to victory in 2017.

But the hundreds of thousands of Labour supporters who voted for Corbyn in 2017 have not gone away, nor the millions of additional Labour voters who voted for Labour in 2017 when Labour’s share of the national vote rose from 30.4%, just over 9 and a quarter million votes in 2015, to 40.0%, over 12 and three-quarter million votes in 2017. In 2019 Labour lost only around half a million of those increased votes, but a surge of UKIP voters to the Tories put the Tories in pole position and Labour, weakened by witchhunts and right-wing sabotage, was unable to counter that.

But that still leaves several hundreds of thousands of left-wing activists pulled towards Labour in the Corbyn period, and over three million voters who would not vote for Blairites, or even soft lefts like Ed Miliband who never fully renounced Blairism, who were radicalised and mobilised by the Corbynite surge. Those people have not gone away. And a considerable number of them are in Unite.

The Beckett campaign seems to have inspired something of a reprise of the enthusiasm among left-wing Labour supporters, viscerally hostile to Blairism, that was originally given to Corbyn. Beckett was closely associated with Corbyn right through his leadership, though in the background. He led the legal team that successfully defended Jeremy Corbyn’s right to be on the ballot in 2016, during the ‘chicken coup’ leadership contest that was forced on the party by a PLP vote of no-confidence, where the plan was to exclude Corbyn from the ballot by a legal/constitutional manoeuvre, carried out by the Blairite/Zionist Lord Foster. However, since Corbyn allowed his leadership to be sabotaged and ousted, Beckett has gone well beyond that.

As well as the possibility of rank-and-file militants becoming prominent in class struggle responses, there can also be splits and fragmentation of the bureaucracy, itself resulting from rank-and-file pressure. So, while Beckett may not conform to the ideal of a left-wing trade union campaign, demanding that the officialdom be paid no more than the workforce they represent, his campaign still reflects a class struggle impulse from below. Beckett thus should be put to the test of office.

Unlike Corbyn, who has temporised and thrown his own supporters under the bus when he came under attack from the right, Beckett has, particularly as the right-wing have counterattacked, fought back tooth and nail. In this he stands head and shoulders above Turner and Graham. Steve Turner has the backing of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB)-dominated ‘United Left’ block in Unite, where Beckett claims his attempt at their endorsement was squeezed out by bureaucratic tricks and key supporters being excluded from the vote. Turner is openly supportive of soft-left Labour politicians such as Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham against left-wing criticism, and the support from the machinery of the Morning Star shows continuity with the CPB’s hostility to challenging Labour in elections during the whole Blair/Brown era.

Steve Turner, Howard Beckett and Sharon Graham

Beckett, Graham and Turner

Turner’s collaboration with Starmer is pretty clear from an interview with the Huffington Post (27 April) that set the tone for his campaign:

“I’ve always felt we could get a solution to this [Corbyn getting the whip back]. But the longer it goes on, the more entrenched it becomes on both sides. It’s like a war of attrition going on, and it’s going on in public. That’s not helpful to the party, it’s not helpful to Keir, it’s not helpful to Jeremy and it’s not helpful to me as a trade union leader or our members.

“People don’t vote for a divided party. Or a party that’s contemplating his own navel. Sometimes it’s right to shout. But on some occasions diplomacy is best done privately. Look, Keir wasn’t my preferred candidate …. But I’m a socialist, I’m a democrat, and the reality of it is he was elected by the vast majority of our members that voted.

“We didn’t even convince our own members to come on a journey with us, in terms of the political program that was being laid out by Jeremy, Becky and that entire team. We didn’t win the argument inside our own union. We won it amongst the politicos and that group that loves to talk to themselves.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/unite-steve-turner-len-mccluskey-interview_uk_6088331fe4b0b9042d8ae549

And he goes further:

“Trying to get this purist Left, I find incredibly dangerous. We’re fighting the rise of the far right and that narrative of hate and division in society more generally. We are trying to pull the Left together to create a vision of a better Britain and we’ve got this purist debate that’s taken place, pitting good Left comrades against good Left comrades, because they don’t sign up to a particular way of thinking on a particular issue.

“That purist argument, you’re a class traitor if you don’t sign up to something is just beyond belief, that’s not my Left. I’m an inclusive, tolerant, Left.”

ibid

But what is bizarre about this plea for ‘tolerance’ is that it is done in defence of ‘tolerance’ of the Labour leadership of Keir Starmer, which has engaged in the one of the biggest purges of the Labour Party membership, targeting leftist supporters and former supporters of Corbyn, anyone who opposes the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinians, and has created a situation where anyone in the party who speaks out in defence of those purged risks being purged themselves. For Turner to speak out against the ‘purist’ and supposedly intolerant left in this context is simply grotesque. It marks him out as an apologist for Starmer’s witchhunt and as someone who could potentially be a threat to the left within UNITE if elected, alongside the openly pro-Starmer, right-wing candidate Gerard Coyne. Such positions and attitudes have their own logic.

Then there is Sharon Graham, who is standing on a very leftist programme of rebuilding the strength of the union, rebuilding industrial militancy, and fighting for workers gains in this way. This positive element of her campaign is spelled out:

“We must rebuild our industrial base and bring workers from outside our traditional industries into our union. We can’t afford years of drift facing a Tory government and sustained only by short-term tactical manoeuvres. We can’t fiddle while Rome burns. We have to start doing it ourselves: this is not ‘workerism’ – this is the reality of our moment.

“We need an industrial programme that moves decisively beyond the empty rhetoric of ‘partnership’ and which is also supported by our industrial activists; the vast majority of whom agree on the need for power in the workplace and strong organisation, with the ability to take strike action if and when required.

[…]

“Of course, we still need to seek influence in parliament – laws matter. They can dictate our lives. But we must now reform the way we influence legislation. If anything, I will push hard for policy, but I will base this on a workers’ manifesto that is decided by our reps and activists.

“I will pursue its priorities by actively campaigning, as well taking our priorities into the structures of Labour. I will also refuse to support future candidates for parliament that have not represented working people. We need more working-class voices in Westminster and I will turn this soundbite into reality.”

https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/32606/02-06-2021/unite-general-secretary-campaign-statement-from-sharon-graham

That is positive, the trade unions should not be giving any support to election candidates who support or refuse to oppose attacks on working class people, who refuse to oppose austerity, or who refuse to oppose the government. However, there is also this:

“Already, only a small minority of members are engaged in this debate. Make no mistake, we are moving in ever decreasing circles and we need fundamental change.

“For many years, conversations within the left have often been reduced to considering the merits – or otherwise – of the existing leadership of the Labour Party. But decades on from Thatcher, this discussion is increasingly detached from the concerns of working people. Instead of putting forward concrete plans to build working-class power, general secretary elections are being fought as proxy wars, far removed from workers.”

ibid

This is not so good. Because the supposed ‘small minority’ of members who are ‘engaged’ in the debate about the merits of the existing leadership of the Labour Party … are the highly political layer who provided the mass base for Corbynism, and their right-wing opponents of course, who are as noted earlier, engaged in the most massive purge in the history of the Labour Party and the labour movement in Britain, precisely in order to try to render impossible any future challenge to neo-liberal domination of the political wing of the labour movement. To dismiss this whole conflict as ‘ever decreasing circles’ and ‘detached from the concerns of working people’ is a false, narrowly trade unionist view that abstains from the struggles that are most crucial for the interests of working people, and actually a retreat from the best aspects of the Corbyn movement.

Right-wing candidate Gerard Coyne

From Beckett’s own statements, and from the statements of the other contenders standing against him, a critical vote for Beckett is the only principled position that a revolutionary socialist grouping can take on this election. The questions that are posed are crucial, both for the Unite union itself, and for the wider interests of the labour movement in Britain, which needs its class political expression to be able to advance its own class interests against neo-liberal capitalism in this particular phase. That political expression desperately needs a revolutionary programme, but Beckett’s own opposition to ‘partnership’ with employers and his apparent determination to take on the direct spokespersons for neoliberal financial capital in the Labour Party in a highly political campaign, means that his victory would be a significant step in that direction.

Trotskyist Faction or Consistent Democrats: What’s in a Name?

Recently the Trotskyist Faction decided to change our name. This became necessary after the formal split of the Gerry Downing grouping/website that still calls itself Socialist Fight from the international tendency that we previously commonly adhered to, the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI). We came into existence as a faction to defend the previous programmatic positions of SF, and particularly the consistent hard anti-Zionist positions that SF had become known for over the past 5 years or so, from attack by the other side of the dispute. For the full background of this it would be useful for new readers to examine three documents.

The first being our January 2020 Platform within Socialist Fight. This codified our basic programmatic positions. In the text there are references to five basic documents of our tendency, which expand on the politics of the Platform in considerably more detail. They are available on the ‘Basic Documents’ section of our website, at https://www.socialistfight.org/basic-documents/, for convenience of readers.

The second document necessary to understand this is entitled Trotskyist Faction Takes on the Mantle of Socialist Fight, https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/trotskyist-faction-takes-on-the-mantle-of-socialist-fight/, dated March 2020. It contains a full account both of the political reasons for, and the course of, the faction fight that took place in Socialist Fight in January-March 2020, which culminated in Downing splitting away from us, and the LCFI Secretariat in the Americas recognising two sections, Socialist Fight and our Trotskyist Faction/Socialist Fight, as dual British sections of the LCFI until the situation could be resolved.

The third document that needs to be read to explain this, is the document produced collectively by the LCFI itself, in the aftermath of the rump Socialist Fight grouping led by Gerry Downing formally splitting away from the LCFI, titled LCFI Statement on the departure of the Downing faction of Socialist Fight (Britain), https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/lcfi-statement-on-the-departure-of-the-downing-faction-of-socialist-fight-britain/, in February 2021, it explains the overall context of the differences that led to this grouping splitting away from us. We will not repeat this here obviously but given that this grouping has left the LCFI and is using the name Socialist Fight, we are no longer a faction of anything, but just the British Section of the LCFI. So, we need a new name, which reflects our independent existence.

We have chosen the name Consistent Democrats, which we have been using as a provisional, alternative designation for our faction since last summer, knowing that the name Trotskyist Faction had a limited life. Why use this name? Well it is a name the Bolshevik Party used when the Russian Social Democrats (Bolsheviks) were formally illegalised under Tsarism. Obviously, we are not suffering from that problem. But we have been suffering from the hostility of the soft-left and pseudo-left and there has been a fairly systematic attempt by much of the left that is politically soft on Zionism and the Zionist lobby, not to engage with our politics, but to suppress them.

So, in a sense, our use of this name expresses the fact that we have been fairly systematically the target of attacks on workers democracy by the capitulatory left. Because of this, we are the only tendency on the left that has consistently opposed the Zionist-fuelled right-wing witchhunt in the Labour Party. Other trends on the left have refused to defend the whole left against the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign, always finding some left-wing tendency or individual (often, but not exclusively, ourselves) as unworthy of defence, suitable to be thrown under the bus and denounced as real left-wing ‘anti-Semites’ who can be sacrificed to appease the witch-hunters. Which it never does, of course, their attitude is that as soon as their adversaries give an inch, they immediately try to take a mile.

As well as that, the name has the advantage that it is distinctive; there are so many Trotskyist fragments around with very similar names as a result of the fragmentation of the Trotskyoid left, (a serious problem whose causes we have made a serious attempt to address) that this name is somewhat distinctive.

The name does have its dangers and drawbacks though. As Trotsky once noted regarding its use by the Bolsheviks in illegality:

“”the Bolsheviks were compelled to call themselves, at trade union meetings and in the legal press, not Social Democrats, but ‘Consistent Democrats’. True, this did not pass scot free; a considerable number of elements adhered to Bolshevism who more or less were consistent democrats, but not at all international socialists; however, by supplementing legal with illegal activity, Bolshevism overcame the difficulties.” 

Writings, 1935-36, p156

There would potentially be an opportunist danger if we were simply operating under the banner of ourselves as Consistent Democrats; it would seem to dilute the socialist content of our political activity in a similar way as Trotsky noted above.

However, our journal, which we have been publishing since the inception of our faction just over a year ago, is called Communist Fight. This in our view counteracts the danger Trotsky referred to splendidly. Far from diluting the communist element of our politics, it highlights it very sharply.

So, we are now the Consistent Democrats. This is splendid in our view. Marxists are the consistent democrats, we seek to take up all struggles around genuinely democratic questions, all questions involving oppression, in the spirit of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party. As Lenin famously said in What is to be Done (1903):

“the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1901/witbd/iii.htm

Batley and Spen – We Need an Independent Working-Class Candidacy

In the Batley and Spen by-election, called because the previous Labour MP, Tracy Brabin, vacated the seat after being elected as Mayor of West Yorkshire, there is currently no genuinely supportable left-wing candidate running, though there is still time should someone with the resources to run one, such as the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), decide to stand. In the absence of that, there is no one standing that is supportable by socialists up till now.

The Labour Party candidate, Kim Leadbetter, is the sister of the former MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a fascist during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Notwithstanding that, she is an imposed candidate by the Labour Party leadership of Keir Starmer, who are beholden to the Zionist Board of Deputies and still on full pelt to purge the Labour Party of leftists and particularly those who oppose the Zionist genocidal project against the Palestinian people. The witchhunting of the Labour left, and the destruction of Corbyn’s leadership in the last period is a major attack on the working class, in which Zionists played the role of vanguard/spearhead, and no Labour candidate is supportable in an election to the Westminster parliament who is not prepared to stand up and denounce these attacks.

George Galloway is also unfortunately not supportable in Batley and Spen, where he is standing on the ticket of his ‘Workers Party’ organised jointly with the Maoist Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB (ML)). He has betrayed much of what he used to stand for. There was a time when he was able to boast that he was the most pro-immigrant MP in Britain, after his defeat of the pro-war Blairite MP Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow as the candidate for RESPECT in 2005, right in the middle of the Iraq war, after playing a crucial role in mobilising the mass anti-war movement that brought 2 million people onto the streets of London in February 2003. His defiance of the US/UK war in Iraq was legendary – his attack on the US Neocon Senate shortly after his election as a RESPECT MP in 2005 was likewise exemplary.

He was hostile to any whiff of anti-immigrant politics in those days, even though he could not oppose immigration controls in principle … having too much national-reformist baggage for that. But nevertheless in 2009 he refused to support Bob Crow’s No2EU left wing Eurosceptic election campaign because he did not like its implicit nationalism.

In the spring of 2014 he ran a principled, working class campaign (Just Say Naw) against Scottish separation, and correctly attacked the Labour Party for its ‘Better Together’ anti-independence campaign that was jointly organised with Tories.

From left: George Galloway, Nigel Farage, Laurence Fox

But in 2016 he supported Brexit and even tried to work with Nigel Farage. In 2019 he called for a vote to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and even attempted to become a Brexit Party candidate. His bloc partners in the CPGB (ML) also called for Brexit Party votes. This crossing of class lines was not a one-off aberration – it has continued. In 2021 his ‘Alliance for Unity’ Campaign in the Scottish Holyrood Parliamentary Election called for votes for Tories against the Scottish National Party. There is nothing wrong with challenging the SNP but allying with Tories to do so is crossing class lines, as Galloway said sharply in 2014. Obviously there has been a major political shift in Galloway since 2014, and he is doing pretty much the opposite of what he did before then.

He appears to have suffered a major loss of political coherence, and left-wing commitment, since then. It is obvious that the change occurred after George was outrageously beaten up by the Zionist fascist, Neil Masterson, in August 2014, after the Scottish referendum and during Israel’s Protective Edge massacre, and was betrayed by the entire parliamentary left, who ALL (including Jeremy Corbyn) failed to publicly condemn the terrible, violent attack on a 60-year-old man and elected MP by an assailant 20 years younger.

That was a terrible betrayal by a left that capitulated to Zionism, which also included most of the cowardly far left. Apart from individual leftist bloggers, such as that run by one of our political predecessors Communist Explorations, (see https://commexplor.com/2014/11/11/state-collusion-jewish-extremist-escapes-trial-for-religious-assault-on-galloway/) hardly anyone on the far left even made a fuss about it. Unfortunately, those events politically destroyed the old George. The new George, the husk of what once was, is still acting politically and inadvertently trampling over his own honourable past by doing things like this. A tragedy. But in the wider interests of the working class, we cannot indulge him.

It would have been excellent to give electoral support, still critical of course, to the old George in current circumstances. But the old George Galloway no longer exists. Instead, we have someone who supports Tories, and Farage, and gives a platform to the proto-fascist celebrity Laurence Fox, who really needs to become better acquainted with the pavement, on his media show.

George Galloway is not supportable in Batley and Spen because of these things. Nor is Zionist New Labour, beholden to the racist BOD, who really would have considerable common ground with Laurence Fox since they praised Donald Trump for his Jerusalem policy.

George Galloway’s still-fervent anti-Zionism is commendable. But it is not enough on its own to merit electoral support. Supporting Farage and Scottish Tories is incompatible with basic class independence, which is a sine qua non for supporting a candidate in an election. Sayeeda Warsi and Sir Alan Duncan have both been fiercely critical of Zionism, but they are still Tories and not supportable by socialists. George is now politically promiscuous across class lines in a way that the old, pre-Masterson George would not have been happy with at all.

OPEN LETTER TO AFL-CIO PRESIDENT RICHARD TRUMKA


The following letter was a creditable and supportable initiative of Class Conscious, a leftist trend based in Australia, which we are pleased to endorse and publicise.

To Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President

We defend the right of the Vermont AFL-CIO to have passed a motion authorising a General Strike if the 2020 election results had been overturned in a coup. This motion voted on by the rank-and-file delegates at the Vermont AFL-CIO 2020 Convention was in the proud tradition of labor fighting together against the threat of fascism and dictatorship. We defend the right of workers and the organised labor movement to strike together to defend their democratic rights.

We therefore stand in solidarity with the Vermont AFL-CIO and demand that you immediately drop the vindictive and retaliatory “misconduct” investigation into the Vermont AFL-CIO

Signed

Organisations

Jews Against Fascism (Australia)

Liaison Committee for the Fourth International and its national groups: Consistent Democrats (Great Britain) Frente Comunista dos Trabalhdores (Brazil) Tendencia Militant Bolchevique (Argentine) Socialist Workers League (United States)

Socialist Fight (UK)

Trotskyist Platform (Australia)

United Front Committee for a Labor Party (US)

Workers Power (USA)

Individuals

Charles Dineen, AFSCME (retired). (Direct action gets the goods!)

Jonathan Cooper

Lori Drohan

Steve Early, NewsGuild/CWA member and former International Representative, Communications Workers of America.

Cassandra Edson

Michael Eisenscher, Alameda Labor Council Climate and Environmental Justice Caucus

Mike Gimbel, Retired Executive Board Member, Local 375, AFSCME

Andres Gonzales, (formerly) United Steel Workers of America

Daniel Guza, Admin FB group Labor and Politics

Davey Heller, classconscious.org and Australian Services Union member

Heather Harman, IWW, & Socialist Party USA

Mahanama Heller

Owen Hseish

Leslie Hight, VSEA rank and file

Klaus Helms, Member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Germany (Hoch die internationale Solidarität!)

James Marc Leas

Traven Leyshon, President of Green Mountain Labor Council

Dave Levi, Jews Against Fascism (Australia)

Brandon Marsden, Member of Reform and Revolution Caucus of the DSA

Gareth Martin

Bob Montgomery, AFSCME DC 93 (retired)

George Montgomery IBEW 2222 (As a proud lifelong (35 years now retired) member of an AFL-CIO union, I urget you to drop the misconduct investigation.

Barbara McGrew
Mary Morton

John O’Conner, AFM Local 442 and 1000

Robert Oeser

Jamie Partridge, NALC 82

Charles Rachlis, Communist Workers Group

Gabriel Rivera

Carla Ringler

Arlene Treacy (Hands off Vermont AFL-CIO!)

Marcus Vickers, Workers Power USA

Brian Walsh

Daniel Waterman

Israel’s ‘Saif Al-Quds’ defeat and Mass Politics

The recent retreat of Israel from 11 days of bombing Gaza, the unconditional ceasefire effectively imposed on it, is a major defeat whose implications are very damaging for the entire Zionist project. An article in the Middle East Monitor (24 May) by Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh characterised the outcome very sharply:

“Nuclear-armed Israel, and its army equipped with the latest weaponry, has been defeated. It’s much-vaunted and hugely expensive “Iron Dome” missile defence system failed in the face of rockets fired by the Palestinian resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip. The result was that the rockets could reach all parts of 1948-occupied Palestine, as well as Israel’s gas platforms in the Mediterranean Sea, and the country was at times almost under curfew.

It was a strategic defeat, which saw the myth of the invincibility of the Israel Defence Forces destroyed, despite its strength, technology, resources and unrivalled foreign support. Tanks deployed to the nominal border with Gaza went no further, even though the politicians had claimed that they would get a swift victory. The ground invasion didn’t happen”

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210524-the-battle-for-jerusalem-has-humiliated-israel-and-its-arab-zionist-supporters/

Furthermore, the same article captures the element of mass Palestinian politics that has emerged through this struggle:

“Moreover, probably for the first time since the 1936 “Arab uprising” during the British Mandate era, the people of occupied Palestine united across religious and political boundaries, and the imposed “borders” separating those in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip. This will go down in history as a key moment, and will not be forgotten by Israel. Cracks have appeared in its domestic front and it really does face an intifada from the river to the sea.

“It is clear that the Israeli plot to separate Gaza from the rest of occupied Palestine has failed, and it was all down to the resistance groups linking the coastal territory to Jerusalem in the rules of engagement. In doing so they placed the occupied city, and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, under Gaza’s protection. Indeed, I would go further and suggest that all of occupied Palestine is now under Gaza’s protection. Not for nothing were victory celebrations and the flag of Hamas seen on the streets of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Lod, Nablus and the other occupied Palestinian cities. This is an achievement that would not have been possible without the resistance victory in the Saif Al-Quds — “Sword of Jerusalem” — battle.

This is remarkable, and points the way to the possibility of Israel being cracked open by the Palestinian working class, organised across the various barriers that the Zionists have imposed on them in an attempt to slice them up like so many pieces of salami.  As we noted in our own LCFI statement on this recent explosion:

“But even more shocking from the point of view of the Israeli ruling class was the unified General Strike of Palestinian workers across the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel ‘proper’ within the ‘Green Line’ (the 1948 ceasefire borders). The Palestinian population within Israel, those who escaped the 1948 Nakba and were not expelled (but spent decades under military rule, and then as second-class non-Jewish citizens of a Jewish state), acted in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren right across occupied Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, underling that despite the Zionist fiction that designates this population as “Israeli Arabs”, they are Palestinians, part of the dispossessed Palestinian nation, and part of a integral Palestinian working class and oppressed population despite the division of this population by borders, checkpoints, separation walls and the Gaza fence. […] Palestine is one nation from the River to the Sea, and the Palestinian working class has considerable power, beyond its formal industrial muscle, which is limited as Israel limits its exposure to Arab labour with the long-term aim of dispensing with it. The political impact of such an act of the proletarian and oppressed masses is what frightened the Israeli ruling class into cutting their losses in this situation and accepting a ceasefire that only days earlier they had ridiculed”

https://www.socialistfight.org/uncategorized/lcfi-statement-victory-of-palestinian-workers-and-international-resistance-humiliates-netanyahu/

The enforced nature of these concessions and Israeli bitterness at them is shown clearly by Israeli actions after the capitulation, with mass arrests and detentions of ‘Israeli Arabs’ who demonstrated and fought the Zionists during the upheaval, to ‘punish’ them from having defeated the Zionists. This requires continuing, ongoing solidarity from the left, the working class, and oppressed minorities in the West. It is also a sign of Zionist weakness. The mask whereby Israel pretended that it had an ‘Israeli Arab’ minority who were supposedly treated well, had democratic rights, is slipping, and its is becoming obvious to all that these are Palestinians, and are being treated as such by the Zionist usurpers. They are being victimised because they are feared.

This social power of the Palestinian working class needs to be linked to that of the working class in the (predominantly) Muslim Arab and other Middle Eastern states in the countries surrounding Israel, such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, whose struggle to win state power in the struggle against imperialist domination supplements the democratic struggle against Zionist racism and for the right to return of millions of Palestinian refugees.  This can drive forward the programme of permanent revolution in the Middle East, the only process that can resolve all the manifold democratic questions that plague the region, with the dispossession of the Palestinians in the first rank. Only under proletarian rule, though a multi-ethnic Palestine as part of a regional federation of workers states, can this question be resolved.

The mass upheaval nature of Israel’s defeat in the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle had its counterparts elsewhere, including in some Arab countries that have recently signed treacherous deals with Israel, such as the UAE, where the popular sympathy is overwhelmingly with the Palestinians no matter what the various dictatorial regimes may say.

And in the West, including in Britain. In fact, the two biggest solidarity demonstrations in the world took place in London. On 15 May 150,000 marched: on 22 May, after the Israelis had agreed to the ceasefire, 180,000 marched. That is somewhat at variance with the experience of previous wars in the Middle East, where the end of overt hostilities tended to result in a reduced attendance. Here it actually increased. The demonstrations were also remarkable because Britain is just in the process of slowly and hesitantly loosing restrictions on mass assemblies aimed at mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mass movement in Britain and left weaknesses

Our comrades attended four major London demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians during that 11-day period. It is notable that on the first three of those, the British left was very much underrepresented compared to its attendance on events where other issues were the focus. The demonstrations were overwhelmingly of Muslim, South Asian and Arab, composition and our literature (in our first outing, as our distinct group was formed during the pandemic) sold well, as there were relatively few leftists selling their literature. But on the largest demonstration, on 22 May, there were many more leftists present, which while welcome, somewhat swamped those present with leftist literature and our material was much more difficult to sell among the other left publications on sale.

The reluctance of the bigger battalions of the British left to turn out on these demonstrations while the rocket-firing and mass actions were going on, reflects a certain dismissiveness towards a movement that was very much composed of Muslims, and a degree of latent Islamophobic backwardness on the British left, which needs to be overcome politically.

One other unfortunate by product of the Israeli setback is that there are signs of unease by some seemingly stalwart pro-Palestine leftists as to the sheer power of this mass movement, and its potential to undo Zionism. In one recent case – we will not name names here, as a personal polemic is not the point – a long time leftist, himself unjustly suspended from the Labour Party, removed a Facebook comment by one of our comrades containing references to remarks by some prominent Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, comparing Israeli behaviour to the Nazis. Such comparisons were deemed to be anti-Semitic. But this fits not the definition of anti-Semitism in the dictionary, but the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) pseudo-definition with its fraudulent ‘examples’ (which it turns out were never actually endorsed by the IHRA!) one of which deems such comparisons of Israeli behaviour with that of the Nazis as ‘anti-Semitic’.

There have been other incidents of a similar type, where dedicated Palestine campaigners have pulled up others for using ‘tropes’, like the idea that Jews are a ‘privileged’ group today. But whether Jews are a privileged group relative to other ethnic groups in today’s capitalist society, or whether Israel behaves in a genocidal manner comparable to the Nazis, are matters that can be empirically investigated, and the answers are matters of factual determination. Nothing to do with racism or anti-Semitism, and the facts speak in favour of both propositions.  

We hope that this weakness can be overcome. There is considerable rage among Arabs and Muslims about Zionist crimes, but nothing among them that is comparable to the anti-Semitism of the 19th and early 20th Centuries. There are good material reasons for this. Hitlerian and Tsarist anti-Semitism were imperialist ideologies, reflective of the bigotries of pre-revolutionary Russian imperialism and the reactionary attempt to preserve the Tsarist autocracy, or German imperialist hostility to Communism and the then-widespread belief, now dispelled (largely by Zionism, ironically) that Jews were in some way inherently revolutionary and hostile to capitalism and imperialism.

 Whereas there is no imperialist power in on Earth, in the modern, monopoly capitalist sense, that has an Islamic culture, and never has been. Even those elements of ideology among Muslims that in some ways conflate Zionism with being Jewish, are not ideological expressions of a predatory, imperialist project like Nazism, but simply one-sided expressions of experience of oppression at the hands of Zionist Jews, who claim (with the support of virtually the entire imperialist bourgeoisie) to represent Jews in general.

Our attitude to this movement, and in particular its large component with a Muslim culture, should be similar to that laid out by Trotsky in a small but very important letter from 1932, on the approach of the Fourth International to militants from nations oppressed by imperialism:

“When ten intellectuals, whether in Paris, Berlin, or New York, who have already been members of various organizations, address themselves to us with a request to be taken into our midst, I would offer the following advice: Put them through a series of tests on all the programmatic questions; wet them in the rain, dry them in the sun, and then after a new and careful examination accept maybe one or two.

“The case is radically altered when ten workers connected with the masses turn to us. The difference in our attitude to a petty-bourgeois group and to the proletarian group does not require any explanation. But if a proletarian group functions in an area where there are workers of different races, and in spite of this remains composed solely of workers of a privileged nationality, then I am inclined to view them with suspicion. Are we not dealing perhaps with the labour aristocracy? Isn’t the group infected with slave-holding prejudices, active or passive?

“It is an entirely different matter when we are approached by a group of Negro workers. Here I am prepared to take it for granted in advance that we shall achieve agreement with them, even if such an agreement is not actual as yet. Because the Negro workers, by virtue of their whole position, do not and cannot strive to degrade anybody, oppress anybody, or deprive anybody of his rights. They do not seek privileges and cannot rise to the top except on the road of the international revolution.

“We can and we must find a way to the consciousness of the Negro workers, the Chinese workers, the Indian workers, and all the oppressed in the human ocean of the coloured races to whom belongs the decisive word in the development of mankind.”

Leon Trotsky, Closer to the Proletarians of the Coloured Races, July 1932

Differences of time, location, situation, and even some archaic 20th Century language in the passage, do not obscure the point. This movement is not to be feared, but to be embraced, politicised, and revolutionised. The latent softness on Zionism and fear of masses of Muslims that is widespread on the British and Western left must not be allowed to get in the way of pushing this movement forward, a movement that has huge class potential for the struggle to defeat Zionism and imperialism and push forward the struggle for socialism and revolution.

LCFI Statement: Victory of Palestinian workers and international resistance humiliates Netanyahu

Palestinian Hamas supporters rally in the Gaza Strip to celebrate following Israel- Hamas truce

The cease fire between Israel and the Hamas Palestinian government in Gaza after 11 days of bombardment is the result of a major failure of Israel in the face of multiple facets of resistance to Netanyahu’s deliberate provocation of this phase of the Zionist war against the Palestinians. The ceasefire was conceded very reluctantly, and no sooner it had taken effect than the Israelis launched another provocation at Al Aqsa, but the public climb down was still significant and allowed the leaders of Hamas in Gaza to claim a victory.

It is a significant victory for the Palestinians against Netanyahu, despite the death of over 200 Palestinians, half of them women and children, and the destruction of numerous buildings, homes, and infrastructure. Israeli casualties from the Palestinian fire were, as is normal, tiny. The Israeli barbarism extended to the destruction of Gaza’s only Covid testing centre, the blowing up of high-rise residential blocks, rendering many homeless, and the destruction of a building housing the international press, from Al Jazeera to Associated Press, simply to stop accurate reporting of Israel’s massacres. Netanyahu had intended to resolve the impasse of his three-times failure to form a stable government coalition after three indecisive elections, and the threat of jail for corruption hanging over him, by flattening Gaza, and a new victorious ethnic cleansing of Al Quds/Jerusalem, even the destruction of Al Aqsa.

Israel is the most enduring and main dictatorship of imperialism over the oppressed peoples of all Asia

Imperialism and Zionism are hegemonic controllers of the world media and bourgeois public opinion. With this propaganda power, they sell the ideological myth that Israel is the only and true democracy in the Middle East. But in this confrontation Israel was unmasked and once again it is proved that in fact Israel is the most enduring and main dictatorship of imperialism over the oppressed peoples of all Asia, even when compared to the worst dictatorships such as those in Indonesia and Myanmar. Recently, this same Zionist imperialist media, at the service of the campaign in favor of Netanyahu, presented Israel as one of the countries that best conducted the fight against the pandemic, even vaccinating more than half of the Israeli population. Here, too, the condemnation of the Nazi-Zionist state is reinforced by the discovery of the increase in the Palestinian holocaust during Israel’s vaccination campaign, which was based on the denial of the Palestinian right to defend itself against the covid, with only 4.2% of Palestinians have been fully vaccinated so far.

The unconditional ceasefire was the result primarily of the resistance of the Palestinians, and particularly of that of the population of the Gaza strip, whose militant defenders fired hundreds of home-made rockets, hitting parts of Israel they had previously been unable to reach.  Even though the damage from these home-made weapons was light as they do not have the billions of dollars of military technology and weaponry that Israel has, it was still a crucial act of solidarity with the victims of ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrar, and against the outrageous communalist attack on the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site to billions of Muslims around the world, whose destruction and replacement with a ‘third temple’ is one the key goals of the Zionist right, who are now dominant in Israel under Netanyahu.

But even more shocking from the point of view of the Israeli ruling class was the unified General Strike of Palestinian workers across the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel ‘proper’ within the ‘Green Line’ (the 1948 ceasefire borders). The Palestinian population within Israel, those who escaped the 1948 Nakba and were not expelled (but spent decades under military rule, and then as second-class non-Jewish citizens of a Jewish state), acted in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren right across occupied Palestine between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, underling that despite the Zionist fiction that designates this population as “Israeli Arabs”, they are Palestinians, part of the dispossessed Palestinian nation, and part of a integral Palestinian working class and oppressed population despite the division of his population by borders, checkpoints, separation walls and the Gaza fence. This section of the Palestinian population also fought back hard in mixed Israeli cities such as Lod/Lydda.

Palestine is one nation from the River to the Sea, and the Palestinian working class has considerable power, beyond its formal industrial muscle, which is limited as Israel limits its exposure to Arab labour with the long-term aim of dispensing with it. The political impact of such an act of the proletarian and oppressed masses is what frightened the Israeli ruling class into cutting their losses in this situation and accepting a ceasefire that only days earlier they had ridiculed. This recalls the words of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto of 1947 when they wrote that:

“Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another.”

In other words, the potential of such a political strike action is in its ability to inspire further such actions, to create and expand a movement around itself, and to thus shake the stability of bourgeois rule itself. It has the potential to inspire other sections of the masses ground down by Zionism and its imperialist supporters around the world, and to endanger the precious ‘stability’ of Israel itself, which still uses its significant Palestinian minority as a fig-leaf to try to disguise the ethnocratic nature of the state. Not only that, but it is capable of inspiring international solidarity actions that further strengthen it. The actions of Italian port workers in refusing to load arms shipments for Israel, and South African dock workers in boycotting Israeli cargo in solidarity with the Palestinians are examples of the huge potential for international workers’ solidarity over this issue and no doubt played a major role in this Israeli setback.

It is no doubt this potential for radicalisation of the struggle that produced the volte-face not only from Israel, but from Biden, who though his Trump appointee and fanatical Zionist UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, had defied earlier pressure particularly from China, Russia and eventually even France in the UN Security Council and vetoed draft resolutions calling for a ceasefire. Yet suddenly the weaselly US calls for ‘de-escalation’, while insisting on Israel’s supposed ‘right’ to defend itself against its victims, appeared to produce a ceasefire. Evidently it was the resistance that caused this, not anything Biden did.

However, the outspoken statements of Turkish leader Erdoğan and particularly Russia’s Putin, threatening unspecified reprisals against Israel for its blatant killings of civilians, may well have added pressure. In addition, the radicalisation of the Palestinian struggle and the increasing exposure of Israel’s crimes has produced something of a schism in the US Democratic Party, with Biden’s overt support for Israel during this attack coming under fire from what seems to be a growing, more radical layer, from Bernie Sanders to the ‘Squad’ of Black, Palestinian/Muslim, and Hispanic members in the House of Representatives, but not confined to them.

The contradictions involving this layer are potentially quite explosive, as the Israel lobby is not marginal but embedded in very powerful positions within the US ruling class and overlaps with the Israeli ruling class itself through dual citizenship and material investments in many cases.  The Zionist lobby is likely to strike back hard through AIPAC, as indeed they already have tried to do, and that could produce a very bitter conflict within US bourgeois politics as Sanders and the Squad now have a considerable social and electoral base among partially radicalised layers of the US working class and oppressed. It could produce something like the confrontation with Corbyn’s supporters in Britain.

This confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians has produced a much larger movement of support around the world, with demonstrations of hundred of thousands in some places despite the pandemic. This needs to be built and strengthened much further into a movement that can generate much more powerful, class struggle actions and interact with the liberation movement within occupied Palestine and the wider Middle East region. To deepen the potential that evidently exists for working class struggles to radicalise, regionalise, and internationalise, pointing to the perspective of Permanent Revolution, the force of the primarily Arab proletariat that can crack Israel though placing itself at the head of the struggle of all the oppressed, for a multi-ethnic workers state in Palestine as part of a region-wide revolutionary struggle, with a world-revolutionary perspective.

● For the end of the Zionist Nazi state and for the extinction of the colonies expanding this imperialist policy!

● For a Multi-ethnic and multi religious Workers’ State of Palestine in a Socialist Federation of the Middle East of Workers’ Councils!

● For the international political strike and For Workers Sanctions against Israel!

● Unconditional Defence of Hamas against the Zionist state!

● For the military victory of the anti-imperialist guerrilla organizations Hamas and Hezbollah in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria!

Imperialism out of El Salvador and Central America! Workers must rely on their own strength!

Bukele meets Chinese President Xi Jinping

Nayib Bukele’s administration was an important supporter of imperialism’s anti-immigration policy in the Trump era. https://www.eleconomista.net/actualidad/Bukele-acepto-acuerdo-antiinmigrante-de-Trump-que-ignoraba-la-corrupcion-en-El-Salvador-20210226-0024.html.

Today Bukele has fallen out of favour with Biden-Harris and is coming into conflict with American imperialism in Central America, approaching China. Bukele is a bourgeois politician who passed through the FMLN (Farabundo Martí Front of National Liberation), being mayor of the capital San Salvador in 2015, from which he was expelled in 2017. From there he approached the Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA),with which he took advantage of weariness with the bipartisanship constituted by the FMLN and ARENA, being elected president in 2019 and thus ending almost 30 years of bipartisanship in El Salvador.  

https://fundacionfaes.org/es/prensa/46848/a-el-fin-del-bipartidismo-en-el-salvador-a

Bukele will not be the first or last puppet of imperialism to fall into disgrace with his master in the North. In Panama, the dictador Manuel Noriega, received millions of dollars from U.S. imperialism, for 31 years participating in the crackdown of his country’s government, was a CIA agent for a long time, and was central to the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. Noriega supported U.S. military operations against Nicaragua’s Sandinista Front and the FMLN in El Salvador itself. But despite this explicit history of services to imperialism, Noriega was overthrown by an American military invasion of Panama in 1989, when it was discovered that Noriega was playing a double game and, only since then, was he accused by the U.S. of trafficking drugs  and  weapons. Noriega played a double game because he also maintained close relations with staunch enemies of the United States, including Cuba, Libya and Nicaragua. Noriega smuggled weapons from Cuba and the USSR to the Sandinistas, charging much silver for that. Noriega sold thousands of Panamanian passports to the Cuban government for use by its intelligence services. Cuba also used Panama to triangulate the purchase of computers banned by the U.S. embargo. In return, Cuba provided Panama with weapons and military advisers.

 Very more recently, in Guatemala in 2015, Pérez Molina, which although having nothing left-wing about him, came into contradiction with U.S. imperialism for proposing the decriminalization of drugs, thus affecting the interests of drug traffickers that stands behind the “war on drugs”. As  we noted in 2018 in a document,  http://tmb1917.blogspot.com/2018/11/crisis-migratoria.html). The  case of Pérez Molina in Guatemala  is that  of another government that entered  into some contradiction with imperialism. It was the international context of the time that stopped his government from approaching the Russian-Chinese pole.

Today in El Salvador, when Biden-Harris tries to displace Bukele, we take note of what happened to Noriega, Molina, and others. To avoid the same fate, Bukele seeks support in China. China then assists El Salvador with $500 million non-refundable aid for a public works construction program.   The non-refundable nature of the loan means that it does not have to be repaid https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/internacional/el-salvador-firma-millonario-acuerdo-de-cooperacion-con-china-y-se-pone-en-la-mira-de-ee-uu-nota/

American imperialism fearful of losing influence in Central America has already launched a campaign against Bukele’s ruling layer, denouncing acts of corruption  https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/internacional/el-salvador-firma-millonario-acuerdo-de-cooperacion-con-china-y-se-pone-en-la-mira-de-ee-uu-nota/

Bukele learned from the experience of Central America and the Latin American group of bourgeois governments that had some contradiction with imperialism. Thus, judicial coupism such as lawfare (legal war) was prevented as in the cases of Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil, with Bukele himself moving forward in judicial “cleansing” taking advantage of his official majority in the legislative assembly. This was achieved in early May this year, displacing the judges from the constitutional chamber of the supreme court of justice, and also the attorney general. This preventive maneuver by Bukele was explicitly condemned by the sector of US imperialism represented in the Biden-Harris government.https://www.cronista.com/internacionales/estados-unidos-tiene-grave-preocupacion-por-la-destitucion-de-jueces-en-el-salvador/

It should be noted that the attitude of imperialism, as we said, is aimed at not losing influence in Central America, not only in El Salvador. Immediately El Salvador would be relevant to the whole gulf of Fonseca, a  geographical point constituted by an inlet on the Pacific Ocean formed in an archipelago that  constitutes one of the  best natural ports in the world, where three Central American countries have ports: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golfo_de_Fonseca.  The anti-China hysteria of  U.S. imperialism sees in this a threat from China to its interests in the Gulf of Fonseca

This is a sign of the times, of the decline of the U.S. and its overcoming by China and its allies: In Honduras, in 2011, Zelaya suffered a coup d’état of imperialism led by the Obama-Biden Democratic Party government, because he flirted with Venezuela and the Eurasian pole. In El Salvador, in 2021, a decade after Zelaya,  Bukele flirts with the same Eurasian pole so as not to suffer a coup d’état of imperialism. Both in the Area of the Americas (Central America) which constitutes the area of direct geostrategic dominance of American imperialism.

In accordance with the revolutionary tradition demonstrated by the exploited and oppressed of El Salvador in the 80’s when they became a fighting reference point for much of Latin America and the world, It is necessary to point out the limitations of the contradiction with imperialism that a bourgeois leadership like Bukele manifests today. It must not be forgotten that workers in El Salvador and Central America need to be independent of the Bukele government and all capitalist forces to advance their anti-imperialist demands, uniting democratic with socialist tasks in a process of permanent revolution, part of revolutionary struggles in Central America and all Latin America.

Down with the Duque-Uribe regime in Colombia!

For the end of ‘adjustment’ and repression

Workers in Colombia are fighting in a series of struggles against the adjustment policy, the “model” of the semicolonial state that imperialism seeks to impose in Latin America.

Faced with protests provoked by the tax package that Duque’s government wants to impose, the government is responding with a deep repression that already has had at least 156 people disappear according to international organizations of which on May 11, it is still unknown where 125 are in the city of Cali alone.

Urubism refers to former President Uribe, paramilitary and agent of the CIA and drug trafficking. President Duque belongs to this ilk, with Uribe being the power behind the throne in Colombia’s current government. Workers in Colombia are directly repressed by the official military apparatus and indirectly by para-military groups.

As of today, May 11 at least 37 were already counted dead, a figure that is above the officially recognized number of fatalities due to the repression of popular protests in Colombia.

Meanwhile throughout the country both the prosecutor’s office and defence attorneys pointed out that they have received 548 reports of “alleged missing” people, and that 189 people have already been located, so there are still 359 “in the process of verification and location”.

The “model” of polity represented by the Colombian state is the model that imperialism seeks to impose in Latin America with its paramilitarism, its unpunished pressure on the judicial and military system, in practice annexed to imperialism, coexistence with drug trafficking, etc. In this sense in Colombia popular struggles face a state model imposed by imperialism on the region. A neocolonial model that is not linked to a particular administration of Trumpists or Democrats, but which is part of imperialist state policy.

A defeat of this political “model” by Colombia’s workers and all the masses of people will bog down the repressive politics and attacks of workers’ living conditions on the South American continent. The defeat of this “model” is one of the transitional tasks of the struggle for a permanent revolutionary process to overthrow the whole of imperialist and capitalist domination in the heart of Latin America. For this, workers in Colombia must organize independently, while the most advanced must have to have for their objective the construction of the party of its vanguard to lead all of Colombia’s exploited and oppressed against adjustment and repression policies, as part of the struggle for a working-class government.

LCFI: Stop Israel’s Nakba in Al Quds

The house seizures and evictions in Sheikh Jarrar, East Jerusalem/Al Quds, the attacks on worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque/Dome of the Rock, and the murderous attacks on Gaza by Netanyahu’s ‘caretaker’ government, are a further escalation of the genocidal Zionist project of destroying the Palestinian people.  One obvious purpose of this is to prolong Netanyahu’s own personal rule, facing a real possibility of jail for corruption, and having failed for the third time to form a stable government after an election, provoking a conflict with the Palestinians is no doubt a deliberate ploy to stay in power.

The Israeli regime took advantage of Ramadan to brutalise worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque while at the same time the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, given a green light by Trump’s move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem (which the US will not reverse under Biden), has escalated as Palestinian homes are confiscated to be handed over to more Jewish settlers, part of the annexation plans which the US okayed. The Sheikh Jarrar issue is now tied up in the Israeli Supreme Court, but no one should have any illusions as to the outcome of that; it is the latest episode in the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people since 1948. The attack on Al Aqsa is even more serious, as it prefigures what Zionist extremists have long planned to do: destroy Islam’s third most holy site and erect a ‘Third Temple’ on the site; an incredible provocation against the world’s Muslims and an index of Zionism’s vanguard role on the Western far right in trying to foment more predatory wars using religion and a supposed ‘clash of civilisations’ as a weapon.

In response to Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrar, Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired hundreds of their home-made rockets at Askelon, at Jerusalem itself and Tel Aviv, as a show of force in solidarity with those under attack. Giving rise to agonised calls from the Biden administration and from UK Labour’s Keir Starmer for ‘de-escalation’. Biden will do nothing to stop Israel, of course. Even if the current US administration finds this inconvenient, it has to reckon with Israel’s supporters in in the US ruling class, and at best will most likely continue to vacillate before falling into line with the Zionists. They are, after all, the strategic allies and supporters of US and Western imperialism, which will not lightly cross them. Meanwhile the UK Johnson government has condemned the ‘attacks’ on Israel from Gaza. Openly supporting the genocidal Zionists, of course they say nothing to condemn the ethnic terrorism in Jerusalem, or the murderous ariel bombardment of Gaza that has already led to 24 dead today, including nine children killed.

We in the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International condemn these barbaric attacks and call on the working-class movement and all oppressed peoples to express solidarity with the Palestinians. This must include where possible political strikes and labour movement boycotts directed at the Zionist regime. The Zionist state must be overthrown by the working class of the region, with the Palestinian masses in the lead, and Israel’s population of colonial-settlers must be subordinated to basic democracy. For the unconditional right to return of all Palestinian victims of Zionism! Smash Zionism and all its racist laws and impositions! The Zionist state must be replaced through a process of permanent revolution, mobilising the oppressed masses behind the working class as the champion of all the oppressed, with a multi-ethnic state of Palestine, part of a wider, regional revolutionary offensive.

Communist Fight #5 out now in hard copy also

Communist Fight issue no 5, paper of the Consistent Democrats, British Section of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International, is out now. Including in hard copy, it is on sale for £2.50 (£1 concession)
It contains the extensive May Day statement of the LCFI, which addresses the issues posed for the world working class by the pandemic, the economic crisis that accompanies it, and the continued conflicts in the world occasioned by the decline of US hegemony and the challenges to it, as well as a section on the current situation in Britain.

Also it features:

a major article from our Brazilian comrades on Navalny, who evidently aspires to be the Guaido of Russia and is a truly sinister, far right figure that the workers movement should not be defending.

a united front statement signed by ourselves and other left forces denouncing imperialist threats against Russia over Ukraine.

our statement on Biden’s escalation of US aggression in Syria, and his continuation of Trump’s anti-China campaign.

An article on the recent campaign for unionisation at Amazon at Bessemer, Alabama, also from our comrades from the Americas.

Our statement and political account on the break of the rump Socialist Fight group from the LCFI, and consequently why the British Section of the LCFI is no longer a faction and has thus changed its name to reflect that.

And an account of the fight waged by one of our comrades against being purged from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign by its Starmer-loyal leaders, who effectively act as just another arm of the Israel lobby.