Parliamentary pressure is not an effective strategy.
Abolish Private Healthcare!
Consistent Democrats leaflet to 22 November lobby against Health and Care Bill
Obviously, this rally has a laudable aim, to try to pressure and lobby MP’s to vote down Johnson’s Health and Care Bill.
This Bill is a severe threat to the NHS. It opens up the membership of the new NHS ‘Integrated Care Boards’ the Act will create, to private companies. These local bodies (there will be 42 of them) will replace the previous Clinical Commissioning Groups an earlier Tory Health Secretary, Lansley, set up as part of previous undermining of the NHS and the Cameron austerity regime, which left the HNS chronically weakened and underfunded when tested by the Covid-19 pandemic. It will allow such companies considerable power over patient care.
It also abolishes the Thatcherite ideological fig leaf of ‘competitive tendering’ where NHS Services had to go through a bidding process (for ‘best value’) before NHS services contracts could be given to private companies. But it does not abolish the hiving off or outsourcing of services at all. Rather the new ICB bodies will have the right to award private sector contacts without a competitive process at all. This simply gives legal sanction for extending the ‘VIP lanes’ and similar Johnson scams whereby pandemic-related contracts for PPE and ‘Test and Trace’ worth up to £39 billion pounds were just handed over to Johnson’s close associates and donors, like Dido Harding and Capita. It will also give Health Secretary Sajiv Javid (the former banker) power to intervene in local NHS decisions and plans, and ‘reconfigure’ them. Again, this could easily amount to the power to simply overrule locally formulated HNS planning and hand it over to private health companies.
This is an even greater threat to the NHS than Cameron and Lansley. And Johnson, unlike Cameron, has a large majority to ram these measures through. Parliamentary lobbying is going to be of limited use and is highly likely to be ignored or shrugged off. Keir Starmer is worse than useless here, as his Labour leadership has done nothing significant about the Bill, and apart from putting a formal amendment in July to block its progress towards becoming law, have had nothing to say in terms of trying to mobilise opposition to it. Starmer’s priority is to smash the left and his racist crusade against supporters of Palestinian rights. The only Labour MPs who have bothered to make a fuss seem to be a small group from the Socialist Campaign Group led by Richard Burgon and Rebecca Long-Bailey. They delivered a mock medical bill to Downing Street to highlight the intentions of the government to force more privatisation and undermine the NHS as a free service ‘at the point of use’. But that is hardly going to set Johnson’s world on fire.
Johnson’s political ‘honeymoon’, which has lasted over two years, is now over with the Brexit supplies crisis, the surge of inflation, the Universal Credit cut and upcoming tax rises, and the explosion of the Owen Paterson corruption scandal and subsequent revelations, including about naked corruption regarding the pandemic. He has a problem in that in the Brexit referendum, he and his cronies promised a £350 million per week increase in NHS spending after leaving the EU, which he capitalised on to win his dodgy election victory in 2019. He has not the slightest semblance of a democratic mandate for a drive towards NHS privatization. In fact, opinion polls over the past several years show support for the central idea of the NHS, that healthcare is a right and must be free at the point of use, to be around 90% in favour.
This is not divisive. Free healthcare is overwhelmingly popular, and the government does not dare openly attack it. It just acts covertly to undermine and destroy it. This should not be tolerated, and there are more effective ways to resist that the broad movement in defence of the NHS must adopt to stop this illegitimate privatization scam going ahead. If as seems highly likely, the Tories bulldoze through the Bill regardless, attempts to implement it must be met both by strikes where possible in defiance of the trade union bureaucracy, and as an additional tactic, by determined Direct Action, to immobilize the commercial interests who try to implement privatisation.
If these involve technically breaking any law, then clearly those doing so would be acting in the interests of the overwhelming majority, in their widely documented views. Companies that undermine the NHS should be targeted by Direct Action protesters in the manner of Elbit, the Israeli arms manufacturer, who have been very effectively subjected to such non-violent direct action by Palestine Action (https://palestineaction.org/), a heroic group of activists for basic Palestinian democratic rights and anti-racism. The entire labour movement, the unions, the pro-NHS campaign groups, etc., need to look seriously into this and decide how to carry it out. We cannot allow the NHS to be wrecked by this gang of corrupt bourgeois liars led by Johnson.
When this struggle is won and the Tories are forced to retreat, we can turn back onto the offensive and demand a fully socialized health and social care system and the complete abolition of private medicine. But this is what has to be done now.
U.S. imperialism – within which the gusano bourgeoisie is an organic component – as part of its criminal campaign against the workers’ state is promoting a right-wing mobilization this November 15 in Cuba, which it hopes will lead to the overthrow of economic planning and the full scale restoration of capitalism.
US officials have issued a series of statements in support of the upcoming demonstrations.
Obviously, the “freedom” to which the imperialist officials refer is the freedom of international capital to exploit the workers of Cuba, and by the Cuban “people” then mean the counterrevolutionary elements that participate in the right-wing mobilizations. “Human rights” in the mouth of the main promoter of genocidal dictatorships on the continent – US imperialism – does not go beyond the right to exploit the authentic people of Cuba.
The undersigned working class organisations and individuals harshly condemn the anti-workers’ state mobilization prepared for this November 15. In that sense, we criticize the liberalizing policy of the Cuban regime for tolerating the campaign of the agents of reaction. Any movement that does not have as its guiding star the defense of the workers’ state will be used as part of the counterrevolutionary campaign of imperialism itself.
List of Endorsers:
Bolshevik Group – East Asia
Class Conscious – Australia (classconscious.org)
Communist Revolutionary Action (KED or Κομμουνιστική Επαναστατική Δράση – Greece)
Forum de Paulista, entidade composta por 13 Movimentos sociais, sindicatos e organizações populares da cidade de paulista/PE (Brazil)
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International
Including four LCFI Sections:
Consistent Democrats (Great Britain)
Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores (Brazil)
Socialist Workers League (USA)
Tendencia Militante Bolchevique (Argentina)
Partido da Causa Operária (Brazil)
Polo sindical dos assalariados agrícolas do vale do São Francisco petrolina/PE e Juazeiro/BA. (Brazil)
Socialist Workers Party of Bangladesh
Leon Carlos, Tendencia Militante Bolchevique
Mohammad Basirul Haq Sinha, Presidente, Inter Press Network, Dhaka
Adelmiro Santos, movimento de luta pelo teto, MLT
André Constantino, Movimento Nacional das Favelas e Periferias
Carlos Magno Lucena Martins, Partido dos Trabalhadores, Carapicuíba, São Paulo
Cleide Andrade, presidente PSOL Paulista/PE
David Rodrigo, operário da construção civil, Fórum Unitário Sindical e Popular de Paulista/PE, FUSP, jornal Folha do Trabalhador
Elias Andrade, funcionário público federal, Movimento Compromisso e Luta, Movluta
Érico Cardoso, historiador, jornal Folha do Trabalhador
Fábio Sobral, professor universitário, Canal a Comuna
Francisco Castro, economista e professor aposentado da UFRPE, ex-frade dominicano e membro da ALN
Francisco Gonçalves, funcionário público federal, Movluta
Frederico Costa, professor universitário, coordenador do Instituto de Estudos e Pesquisas do Movimento Operário, IMO
Joana Boaventura, professora da rede pública estadual, Rio Grande do Sul, Canal Emancipação do Trabalho
José de Lima Soares, professor universitário
José Odahi Magalhães, liderança popular, Organizações Populares, OPA
Juarez Marcolino Vieira, Sindicato doa Condutores Autônomos em Transportes Alternativos de Passageiros do Estado de Pernambuco- SINDALTERNATIVOS/PE.
Levi Sotto, operário da construção civil, jornal Folha do Trabalhador
Communist Fight issue 7 is out now, in hard copy format. It features an extensive analysis of the Labour Party conference and the efforts by Starmer and the Blairites and Zionists to crush the mass membership that joined Labour to support Jeremy Corbyn’s left-reformist challenge to neoliberalism, including the blatant rigging of votes and ballots, the use of armed cops in the conference and outside to intimidate dissidents, and the creation of a ‘disciplinary’ apparatus that is deliberately designed to institutionalise Zionist racism within the basic structures of the party, an apparatus more suited to a far right, racist party than an organisation that through its name still claims to represent working class people.
It also includes related articles defending the labour movement and democratic rights against the ramifications of the Blairite/Zionist witchhunt in the Labour Party. One defending the Bristol University professor David Miller, whose insightful criticisms of Zionist lobbying and incitement of Islamophobia have brought down on him the wrath of Zionists and other right-wingers and capitulators, resulting in a campaign to get him sacked from his academic post, from the highest level of “All party” parliamentary racist scoundrels. Recently his employers capitulated to this campaign and dismissed him despite an investigation by an eminent QC clearing him of any wrongdoing. The article contains the firmest defence of David Miller available on the left.
Another substantial article refutes in detail a smear against our political predeccesor, Socialist Fight, by the third-campist and ‘left’ Islamophobic CPGB/Weekly Worker, which claims to oppose Zionist witchhunting but whose political cowardice from time to time leads to them throwing the most coherent anti-Zionists under the bus with the alacrity of an Owen Jones. The article gives us the chance to further elaborate our politics, and our response to indefensible acts of violence committed by individual oppressed people against ordinary individuals within those peoples perceived as their oppressors.
The article also highlights our principled defence of all those targeted by the witchhunt, in particular celebrating the victory of Stan Keable, one of the most prominent supporters of the Weekly Worker, at an Employment Tribunal and then appeal after being sacked from his job for expressing correct criticisms of Zionism at a demonstration three years ago. And on the subject of democratic rights, there is an update on the Julian Assange case as the US attempts to overturn the refusal of a magistrate to allow his extradition to the US on outrageously anti-democratic charges relating to Wikileaks‘ exposure of US crimes and atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
This issue highlights our defence, and that of our international co-thinkers from the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International (LCFI), of deformed workers states against imperialism and counterrevolution, and also of oppressed, dependent capitalist countries including post-Maoist China against imperialism. We feature two articles relating to publications of our international co-thinkers: one an article by our Brazilian co-thinkers on the countrevolution in the USSR in 1991, the other the English language preface of a book the LCFI intend to publish in three languages featuing a larger selection of material on the demise of the USSR. This preface in particular contains some new positions retrospectively taken by our tendency on Poland and the August 1991 USSR coup that draw a hard line against third-campism and in favour of the defence of workers states, while critcising those flawed forces on the left that took correct or partially correct positions on these questions at the time.
Most immediatly in this vein, there is a substantial article analysing and attacking AUKUS, the Australia-UK-US alliance to threaten China, an alliance of three Anglo-Saxon powers that has a disturbing ethnic element about it given the history and tradition of ‘yellow peril’ colonial racism that characterises all three powers in their relationship with the peoples of East Asia, including China.
And the back page leading article tears into Boris Johnson’s corrupt, arrogant and anti-democratic government with its vicious attacks on Universal Credit claimants in the face of rising food and fuel prices and shortages, its murderous pandemic policies, its tax rises on the poor accompanying tax cuts for bankers, and the irrationality and ruinous nature of Brexit, its green light to dumping sewage in rivers and the sea, while pretending to care about the environment and hosting the Climate Change COP-26 Summit in Glasgow.
This 40 page edition contains substantial material on the international and domestic class struggle, and we urge socialists and those sympathetic to revolutionary politics to take out a subscription, which costs £17 per year for 4 issues. See our Communist Fight page for details.
No to the Gusano mobilization that is being prepared in Cuba as part of imperialism’s hybrid war against the workers’ state!
For the unconditional defense of the workers’ state of Cuba!
U.S. imperialism – within which the Gusano bourgeoisie is an organic component – as part of its criminal campaign against the workers’ state is promoting through the use of hybrid warfare techniques a right-wing mobilization this November 15 in Cuba.
From imperialism itself US officials have issued a series of statements in support of the upcoming demonstrations.
“The United States shares the vision of the Cuban people: democracy, prosperity, and human rights. We support their right to peacefully assemble on November 15 and call on the Cuban government to allow freedom of expression and listen to the people. Their voices cannot be silenced,” wrote Brian A. Nichols, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Obviously, the “freedom” to which the imperialist officials refer is the freedom of international capital to exploit the workers of Cuba by imperialism itself and by the Cuban “people” refer to the counterrevolutionary elements that participate in the right-wing mobilizations. Just as the “human rights” in the mouth of the main promoter of genocidal dictatorships on the continent – US imperialism – does not go beyond the right to exploit the authentic people of Cuba.
Only sectors corrupted or blinded by bourgeois public opinion can in the name of the “left” not see the imperialist maneuver –including above all the Gusano bourgeoisie – behind the right-wing mobilizations that are being prepared in Cuba for this November 15.
It is the duty of all those who identify with the basic principles of communism and anti-imperialist struggles to harshly condemn the anti-workers’ state campaign of which it is part of the mobilization prepared for this November 15. In that sense,we criticize the liberalizing policy of the Cuban regime for making the struggle against imperialism and its counterrevolution more flexible in the form of hybrid war, adapting with restorationist measures and tolerating the campaign of the agents of reaction. It should be noted that in the area of direct geostrategic control of US imperialism – such as the Caribbean – any movement that does not have as its guiding star the defense of the workers’ state will be used as part of the counterrevolutionary campaign of imperialism itself. Thus, for example, the manoeuvres of imperialism in Haiti must also be seen as part of the siege that is being made against the workers’ state of Cuba. Therefore, in the face of this new imperialist offensive that has been being prepared from several fronts inside and outside Cuba, the defense of Cuba’s own workers’ state must be deepened more than ever.
This book is the first the LCFI has produced. Its purpose is to address problems that are of major significance to socialists and communists today. The context is an important historical anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the destruction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991. The USSR, for all its degeneration, was the state that was created by the world’s first successful proletarian insurrection in 1917. Its survival for 74 years, albeit for most of that period in a bureaucratically degenerated form, inspired numerous revolutionary struggles around the world.
The October 1917 Russian Revolution, led by the Bolshevik Party, was centrally guided by Lenin and Trotsky, who between them put forward the strategic aim of the revolution: the conquest of power by the working class of the former Tsarist empire, supported by the peasants and oppressed nations and nationalities who had been forcibly incorporated into that “prison house of peoples”. The principled aim of this class alliance behind the proletariat in power was for the proletariat to act as emancipator of the peasantry and the oppressed peoples. Their perspective was reliance on the strength and revolutionary class consciousness of the European, and ultimately world working class to ensure the final victory of socialism.
The Bolshevik Revolution was conceived of, and took place, as part of a Europe-wide revolutionary upheaval resulting from the world war. Revolution flared in Germany in short order after the Bolsheviks taking power, concurrently with the defeat of the Kaiser. The Habsburgs in Austria-Hungary collapsed, the French fleet mutinied, an a (too brief) general strike erupted in Britain against military intervention in Russia. From China to India to Ireland to much of Asia, revolutionary upheavals flared up across the colonial world, to the point that the Bolsheviks were able to hold a Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku in 1920 attended by 1900 delegates representing colonized peoples around the world. This was in the context of 13 different imperialist armies invading Soviet Russia to try to put down the revolution. This was the most massive revolutionary upheaval up to now in the history of capitalism and was only defeated because the bourgeoisie of the European imperialist counties, which were shaken to the core by these events, was saved by the treacherous leaderships of the Social Democratic and Labour Parties, who struggled might and main to save the bourgeoisie and to put down the workers revolution.
The defeat of the post WWI revolutionary wave led to the isolation of the Russian Revolution, and the prolonged siege, scarcity and privation caused by imperialism against a revolution in such a backward country led to the opportunity for a conservative labour bureaucracy to crystallize. Over time and by degrees, this emerging social formation strove to water down and undermine the revolutionary politics of Lenin and Trotsky’s Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and the Communist International, overthrowing and then savagely persecuting the revolutionary wing. The rise of such a conservative and anti-internationalist bureaucracy was fought by Trotsky and the Left Opposition after Lenin’s death, but it was a losing battle in Russia against an emerging leadership that had the means to abuse the authority of the Russian Revolution to sabotage revolutions around the world, from Germany to China to Spain. The Trotskyists were forced to attempt to create a new workers’ international, the Fourth International, in these circumstances, a struggle which continues today but which still has not yet overcome the enormous difficulties this period created. We have not yet succeeded in creating a new mass International capable of leading new proletarian revolutions.
The gravest unnecessary defeats of the proletariat in history took place in the 1930s, but concurrently with a massive, bureaucratically driven, and at times adventurist and bloody, expansion of the productive forces in Russia through collectivization and industrialization. Crucial revolutionary upheavals were defeated in blood by the fascists and Nazis, the ultimate armed thugs of capitalism, because the bureaucracy which had usurped power in the workers state blatantly sabotaged revolutions, most notoriously in Spain. They feared that any new proletarian revolution would lead to them losing power to the revolutionary workers.
Their treachery helped Hitler to power in Germany and led directly to the Second Imperialist War and the Nazi attack on the USSR, which had to be fought off with the most gargantuan effort and losses (27 million dead) by the peoples of the USSR. In contradiction to their treachery, their industrialization undoubtedly helped to save the USSR in the terrible war with Hitler. Despite the treachery of the leadership and the attempted sabotage of revolutions again by Stalin, with revolutionary situations in Italy, France, Greece and Vietnam, to mention a few, the class struggles launched by and after the war triggered off a new wave of social revolutions. These were constrained within nationalist shackles of iron by the Stalinist movement, but still led to a temporary expansion of the revolution in a deformed manner. After the defeat of the Hitler-led imperialist bloc in WWII, US imperialism finally gained hegemony over the capitalist world, but in a context where the USSR had played a major role in the defeat of its imperialist rivals and was a major force to be reckoned with.
This was in a context where, as a result of that conquest of US hegemony, the imperialist countries now hegemonized underwent a massive 30-year boom, the greatest expansion in the history of capitalism, that only went into crisis in the 1970s. At the same time, massive struggles and instabilities inherited by US imperialism from the European colonial empires that it had defeated and subsumed, together with the results of its own depredations, led to a wave to revolutions in backward countries that resulted in the creation of short-lived workers states, led by bureaucratic nationalist forces often led by Stalinist cadre, or at least partially trained by such cadre, by means of mainly rural guerilla struggles based on the peasantry not the conscious working class. These states embodied gains for the working class insofar as capitalism was abolished and replaced by a collectivized economy in which basic employment and working-class welfare were guaranteed, not subordinated to profit. At the same time their leaderships were hostile to world revolution, treacherous and at times prepared to ally with imperialism even against each other, as was manifested most appallingly in the Sino-Soviet split that lasted from the early 1960s until the destruction of the USSR.
A number of these deformed workers states were created, enough to cover around one third of the world’s land area by the 1970s, for a relatively brief period. They were secondary products of the Russian Revolution and much more fragile and shorter-lived than the USSR itself. The East European buffer countries conquered by the Soviet Red Army, and North Korea, were joined by Yugoslavia, Albania, China, Vietnam and its satellites, and finally Cuba, that were created by such guerilla struggles. Today, 30 years after the USSR was destroyed, two of these deformed workers states remain, Cuba and North Korea. The defence of those against counterrevolution from within and without is still one of the most important duties of Marxists today.
This publication aims to address the issues posed by the demise of the USSR and touches on other deformed workers states which are no more, such as China, and some of the complexities which they also pose for Marxists today. As well as addressing Afghanistan, which played a key role in the demise of the USSR, and which also subsequently played a secondary role in the imperialist ‘war on terror’ and the complex and predatory remaking of the Middle East involving such secondary imperialist powers as Britain and Israel, under the overall hegemony of the US, in the period since the destruction of the Soviet bloc. Obviously in a preface you do not seek to repeat the argumentation in the material itself, but it is to be hoped that this will provide some background to the issues discussed in the rest of the book.
The thrust of our politics, as should be clear from the articles, is militant defence of the gains of the working class as embodied in all social revolutions, no matter how deformed, against imperialism and counterrevolution, as well as defence of all oppressed peoples and nations against imperialism. We reject ‘third campism’, the phoney ‘neutrality’ between deformed workers states and their imperialist enemies, just as we reject neutrality in struggles between oppressed peoples and nations, and imperialism in the various wars and proxy wars imperialism continually wages to subjugate and destroy any movement or government that refuses to subordinate themselves totally to imperialist strategy. Our position is one of revolutionary defencism of all workers states, the anti-imperialist united front in struggles against imperialism more generally, and permanent revolution, the proletariat acting as the universal emancipator in all democratic and liberation struggles. Our strategy, in short, is that of the world revolution in the tradition of the Bolsheviks. Hopefully these articles will make this perspective more concrete to militants who read this book.
We are seeking to refound a consistent Trotskyist tendency. All Trotskyist groups claim the first 4 congresses of the 3rd International and revolutionary defensism. But, in fact, none have done so consistently. Some of those with better positions on the Anti-Imperialist United Front in the past, have capitulated to Zionism, and thus undermined this position. Our former leading comrade Gerry Downing in Britain did this, and also took a third-campist position on August 1991. The IBT was consistently defencist in August 1991. But, like the whole Spartacist family, the IBT is not consistent in defense of the first 4 congresses of the 3rd International.
The Spartacists were also partially correct over Poland. They were correct to denounce the infatuation of Polish workers with capitalist democracy. But they did not understand why neoliberalism and capitalist democracy had gained mass support in this period, because of the political failure of Stalinism in the period of its seemingly greatest extension, with the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam. As well as correctly siding militarily with the Polish Stalinist regime against the Solidarnosc leadership to prevent capitalist restoration, they also expressed contempt for the economic discontent of Polish workers that drove the workers movement in those days, suggesting Polish workers were fat from eating too much meat, etc.
The Polish economy had been brought to ruin by attempts by liberal Stalinists to buy off workers demands for workers control from 1956 onwards with economic concessions funded by imperialist loans, that led to a crisis of more and more indebtedness. Each time the regime tried to raise food prices to assist paying these debts, the workers revolted to defend their living standards. These revolts were clearly supportable. The low productivity and shortages in the Soviet bloc were in large measure a product of the suppression of working-class democracy. As Trotsky noted in the Revolution Betrayed:
“The rough work of borrowing, imitating, transplanting and grafting, was accomplished on the bases laid down by the revolution. There was, thus far, no question of any new word in the sphere of technique, science or art. It is possible to build gigantic factories according to a ready-made Western pattern by bureaucratic command – although, to be sure, at triple the normal cost. But the farther you go, the more the economy runs into the problem of quality, which slips out of the hands of a bureaucracy like a shadow. The Soviet products are as though branded with the gray label of indifference. Under a nationalized economy, quality demands a democracy of producers and consumers, freedom of criticism and initiative – conditions incompatible with a totalitarian regime of fear, lies and flattery.”
Poland became thus an outrider for the rise of popular support for neoliberalism in the Soviet bloc countries. It was precisely the aversion to workers democracy, the regimes seeking imperialist largesse to buy off the demand for it from below, that economically and politically undermined the class consciousness of the workers and made neoliberal capitalism appear as a way out of the economic and political impasse. So while it was correct to bloc militarily with the Stalinists to suppress the leadership of Solidarnosc, the anti-working class thrust of Spartacism’s attacks on Polish workers needs to be condemned.
Clear examples of this occurred in Spart propaganda at the time. For instance, in their key pamphlet on Poland from 1981, Solidarnosc: Polish Company Union for CIA and Bankers, there is a photo on p16 highlighting shortages in Polish shops, with the caption: “Shopping in Poland: No meat, no soap, no cigarettes. In order to eat one must work.”. Other passages in the same pamphlet make the same point:
“Russian and Ukrainian collective farms now supply Poland with food, even though the consumption level, especially of meat, is much higher in Warsaw and Gdansk than in Moscow and Kiev…”
Or on page 31 we get:
“The Poles have contradictory economic aspirations. There is an overwhelming demand to abolish the special shops-an egalitarian socialist measure. Yet all those who get dollars from relatives in America would like to spend them on luxury goods imported from the West. For strike leaders who yearn for capitalism, we suggest a long vacation in Liverpool where they won’t have to stand in line to buy anything. Of course, they will have a little difficulty finding a job, and even if they do their pay will be so low that they will have to cut back on their meat consumption.”
So, as well as a correct position of condemning capitalist restoration, a frankly anti-union element, tinged with an element of chauvinist hostility to Polish workers (and bizarrely, to Polish cuisine!) seeped into Spartacist propaganda around Polish Solidarnosc. This is, to say the least, a serious deviation from Trotskyism – we do not blame the working class for the crimes, betrayals and economic idiocies of Stalinist regimes. While we were for defending socialized property in Poland against the pro-capitalist leadership of Solidarnosc, this aspect of Spartacist material needs to be condemned. Even in those conditions, we continue to defend trade union rights against the Stalinist regime, and strikes whose objectives are economic and not politically aimed at capitalist restoration are still defensible. We certainly do not solidarise with the anti-union malice implied in the epigram “In order to eat one must work” implying that strikers deserve to starve.
What is a bit astonishing, in hindsight, is that for all their often insightful criticism of the Spartacists over many questions in that period, the IBT never appear to have criticised this aspect of Spartacism.
The IBT does not claim defensism for the colonial countries nor does it defend the Anti-Imperialist United Front. We in the LCFI, possibly for the first time in the post-WWII history of Trotskyism, can be completely revolutionary defensist, unconditionally defending workers’ states and oppressed countries against counter-revolution and imperialism, without lending support to the politics of Stalinism or bourgeois nationalism. This is the overall political point we wish to spell out with the launch of our first book, as revolutionary defencists, as manifested in our defence of the united front with the Stalinist bureaucracy (Jaruzelski, Yanayev) and the oppressed countries (Malvinas, Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad, Taliban, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Belarus).
[From the upcoming issue 7 of Communist Fight] As we go to press, judges at the High Court have retired to ‘consider their verdict’ (which may take weeks) in the US appeal against magistrate Vanesa Baraitser’s earlier ruling that Julian Assange could not be extradited to the United States because of the state of his mental health. The otherwise very conservative magistrate ruled that this would constitute a grave risk of suicide if he were subjected to the draconian treatment the US has already shown to those involved in the Assange case through its abuse and torture of Chelsea Manning, the very courageous former US soldier who was the source of information some of Wikileaks’ most important exposes of US imperialism’s crimes.
The US has given various ‘assurances’ to the High Court about how Assange supposedly would be treated if he were extradited to face charges under the Espionage Act, the use of which against journalists is a major attack on press freedom in the US. The charges Assange is confronted with could quite conceivably result in a sentence of 175 years, for exposing US’s imperialism’ monstrous crimes around the world, notably including evidence of massacres of civilians in Afghanistan and actual film footage of massacres of civilians in Iraq, such as the notorious 2007 ‘Collateral Murder’ video that showed US military personnel laughing and joking as they opened fire on journalists, and then on other civilians who tried to help the victims, including a number of children.
The US is trying to soft soap the court with unbelievable claims that the US will treat Assange with kid gloves if he is extradited, he will serve in open prison conditions, he will not be treated to ‘Special Administrative Measures’ (i.e. torture and solitary confinement) like Chelsea Manning was, he will only serve around 5 years, he will be able to serve his sentence in Australia, etc. Anyone who bought this would have to be extremely gullible given that both wings of US politics, including Hillary Clinton on one side to Sarah Palin and Mike Pompeo on the other, have actively sought out ways in which Assange could be kidnapped and/or assassinated. The US also has blatantly fabricated testimony against Assange, such as the testimony of the Icelandic ‘witness’ Thordarson who admitted fabricating material used for the original extradition hearing.
What is particularly egregious and dangerous about this case is the flagrant attack on democratic right to report the truth about imperialist atrocities has been colluded with by virtually every bourgeois media outlet in Britain, including the BBC and Guardian, who have maintained a conspiracy of near silence over the current extradition while holding nothing back in the fraudulent sexual accusations earlier in the US campaign, which much of the ‘left’ was suckered into going along with. Free Julian Assange now!
An important legal victory for all workers was achieved on 26 October when Stan Keable, the Secretary of Labour Party Marxists, a supporter of the Weekly Worker and an ‘auto-excluded’ Labour Party member, won his appeal, and reinstatement, after he was sacked from his job as a housing officer with Hammersmith and Fulham Council in March 2018. The Employment Appeals Tribunal upheld an earlier January 2020 judgement from the Employment Tribunal that Stan was unfairly dismissed, and an order for his reinstatement. Stan has been awarded £70,000 as compensation, which is well deserved, and unless Hammersmith and Fulham Council are prepared to reinstate him, they will have to pay substantial extra damages on top of that.
Stan was victimized when what was in fact a private political discussion at a demonstration was secretly filmed and broadcast on Twitter by a Zionist. Stan made some remarks about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis that are historically true and should be unexceptionable. But this produced an outcry from Zionists, and when it was discovered where he worked, this was taken on by the pro-Zionist Blairite leader of Hammersmith Council, Stephen Cowan, and a local Tory Zionist MP, Greg Hands. Between them they orchestrated, and Cowan gave orders for Stan’s sacking.
This took place on a counterdemonstration called by Jewish Voice for Labour against the Zionist ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration that sought to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his many supporters in the Labour Party as ‘anti-Semites’ and even supposed “Jew-Haters”. The Zionist demonstration was in fact a far-right, racist demo against anti-racist supporters of Palestinian rights. This is shown by the numerous vile Zionist Arab-haters and other racists and bigots present. Including many Blairites who were and are gung-ho for the racist 2003 invasion of Iraq, where Bush and Blair killed over a million Arabs in part as ‘revenge’ for 9-11 even though Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, but also by the attendance of Norman Tebbit, the author of the ‘cricket test’ scapegoating of black and South-Asian British people as not really British, and the Unionist bigot David Trimble, who thinks Catholics in ‘Ulster’ need to be kept ‘in their place’ just as Israel keeps Palestinians ‘in their place’.
We full heartedly congratulate Stan on this victory, and note that Tony Greenstein, then a Unison member, was hounded out of Unison by traitorous Blariite officials who supported Stan’s sacking and refused to provide him with representation in one of the clearest cut cases of victimization for the expression of personal views in recent memory. For representing Stan, Tony was himself victimized by these class traitors. All those involved in this blatant attack on Stan’s democratic rights as an opponent of racism should be held accountable and punished by the labour movement.
The sacking of David Miller by Bristol University is a very serious attack on the right to expose Zionist racist influence and lobbying in British political, academic, and social life. David Miller is a professor of Political Sociology and the initiator of Spinwatch (https://spinwatch.org/), an anti-lobbying watchdog which tackles corporate lobbying and corruption of all kinds, not just that initiated by the Israel lobby. It is known, for instance, for exposing harassment and spying by corporate interests on anti-fracking campaigners, as well as those pushing NHS Privatisation.
He is a strong opponent of Zionist racism and has been particularly outspoken in analysing and condemning the role and influence of Zionists in promoting and fostering Islamophobia in Britain and other Western countries. His criticism of Zionism does not stop at the limits defined by the ruling class and those within the left who have not broken out of our rulers’ political boundaries. He has also been outspoken, for instance, in denouncing the hoax accusations of the use of chemical weapons that have been used to mobilise imperialist wars and proxy wars against Syria, actually by Western-funded jihadists hidden behind fake ‘humanitarian’ outfits like the ‘White Helmets’. The West and its Israeli allies are quite happy using willing jihadist tools to attack Israel’s most hated political opponents in the Middle East, while making use of their indefensible actions to fuel Islamophobia in the West. The fact that Miller touches on this also marks him out for hatred from the Zionist lobby.
As someone particularly concerned with combatting anti-Muslim discrimination, Miller has been meticulous in documenting the cohesive yet diverse lobbing networks that supporters of Israel have assembled to wield influence, particularly in Britain.
His flowchart graphic “BICOM in Context”, drawn up in 2013, showed in considerable detail the connections of BICOM, the so-called ‘Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre’ as part of a comprehensive and powerful conglomeration of lobbyists, who it should be clear, organise around an ideology that is itself thoroughly racist and ethnocentric, in order to marginalise the influence of Israel’s Palestinian Arab victims, who are mainly though not exclusively Muslim. Since the Palestinian people evoke a natural sympathy from broad layers of the Muslim minority communities in Britain whose origins are mainly South Asian, Professor Miller has documented in some detail the efforts of Zionists to offset this sympathy by fanning the flames of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry in British political life.
Miller and a group of other academics elaborated on the significance of this layer in quasi-class terms, touching on the core questions of the nature of Zionism that the left has had considerable difficulty in addressing, due to widespread guilty liberalism and fear of the Zionist canard of ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’:
“… the taboo on discussing the Israel lobby was broken decisively by Mearsheimer and Walt in their ground-breaking 2007 study …. there has been relatively little discussion of the lobby in the UK and the rest of Europe … the lobby is a significant player in UK politics, helping to blunt campaigns for Palestinian human rights, shore up support for Israel, attack and marginalise critics (including Jewish critics) of Israel and insulate political elites from pressure to act against Israel’s misdeeds. The purpose here is to provide an historically informed picture and a corrective both to US centric accounts and those that emphasise the lobby’s allegedly independent power. We illustrate that the pro-Israel lobby is not only important in the US, but is a transnational phenomenon, fostered by transnational organisations – many headquartered in Israel – and funded in large part by transnational corporate actors. Crucially, our account illustrates that the lobby is not an alien interloper, but is integrated into wider neoliberal and/or neoconservative networks, forming a fraction of the transnational power elite.”
The article also points to the change in the political physiognomy of the Labour Party on the question of Zionism effected during the Blair years, and at least raises the question of the cause of this political shift, whether it be a mechanical function of a general rightward shift in the Labour Party in the early-mid 1990s, or whether these Zionist lobbying groups played a more active role in the change being documented. The role of several very wealthy Jewish-Zionist bourgeois in this process, and the evident ethnic/communal politics that drove them, is documented meticulously:
“[Cyril] Stein, founder of the gambling company Ladbrokes, was also a major supporter of the Jewish National Fund. Whilst the mainstream of British Jewry supported the ‘peace process’ in the 1990s, he funded a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Trevor Chinn inherited his substantial wealth from his father, who owned the car company Lex Services and was President of the Jewish National Fund of Britain as well as joint vice president of the Joint Palestine Appeal …. Chinn was also a major donor to Labour Friends of Israel and both men used their influence there to try and block movements towards peace. Gerald Ronson is a close friend of Chinn’s and the founder of the Community Security Trust, an organisation which exists ostensibly to protect the Jewish community in the UK from anti-Semitic violence, but has been criticised for a lack of transparency and accountability and for including critics of Israel in its operational definition of antisemitism.
“Chinn, Ronson and Stein were part of a circle of wealthy British Zionists who bankrolled a number of pro-Israel organisations from the 1980s, but showed little interest in the traditional institutions of Jewish life. They came to be known as ‘the funding fathers’. ‘Unelected and unaccountable,’ Geoffrey Alderman writes, they became ‘the new rulers of Anglo-Jewry’. Most were affiliated with Britain’s foremost Zionist fundraising organisation, the Joint Israel Appeal (formerly the Joint Palestine Appeal, and later the United Jewish Israel Appeal). The Joint Israel Appeal was originally founded in 1944 by Simon Marks, and under the leadership of his nephew Michael Sacher it ‘established itself as the pre-eminent and most powerful single organization in the community’. During the 1980s it was, the Jewish Chronicle reports, run by a ‘triumvirate’ of Trevor Chinn, Gerald Ronson and Michael Levy, and was ‘widely regarded as the community’s most influential organisation’. Levy, a former record company executive and a relative newcomer to the ‘funding fathers’ circle, would later play a part in the rightward shift of the Labour Party under Tony Blair – and perhaps some role in the party’s rapprochement with Israel.
“Levy was introduced to Blair by Gideon Meir, an official at the Israeli Embassy in London, and was later appointed Blair’s chief fundraiser. He became a key figure in a network of New Labour donors that allowed Blair to achieve financial independence from the trade unions and to build up a coterie of advisors – including Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell – who would follow him to 10 Downing Street. Trevor Chinn was one of the donors to Blair’s Labour Leader’s Office Fund, a blind trust for which Levy was, in press vernacular, the bagman. Whether it was due to the direct influence of pro-Israel donors, or simply a feature of the Labour Party’s broader move to the right, is difficult to judge, but in 2001 the Labour Party power broker, lobbyist and former Labour Friends of Israel chair Jonathan Mendelsohn commented that: ‘Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party… The milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour.’”
Zionists complain that the facts are ‘anti-Semitic’
All this material is strictly factual. A complaint was nevertheless lodged against David Miller by a member of the campus Jewish Society, with the support of that body, complaining that this material contained ‘anti-Semitic tropes’. This was backed up by an orchestrated campaign to get him sacked, including a letter accusing him of “inciting hatred of Jewish students” by over 100 MPs and peers of seven varied parties of the bourgeoisie (https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/100-mps-and-peers-write-to-bristol-university-over-professor-david-miller/). These are class enemies of workers and vicious racist thugs, including Tories, New Labour, Liberals, Greens and even DUP bigots from Britain’s ‘Ulster’ settler-colony, in the so-called ‘All Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism’.
The university solicited an investigation of this by a leading QC. Unfortunately for the University, reeling from the political pressure being exerted on it by professional Zionist lobbyists, the QC concluded that:
“Considered against the background of the research discussed in the Open Democracy article, the statements to which [the complainant] takes objection do not appear to me to be tropes or conspiracy theories, but are, instead, specific and apparently defensible assertions of fact…. I am not in a position to determine whether or not Professor Miller’s assertions about Trevor Chinn are accurate, but in my view they cannot properly be characterized as the product merely of stereotypes or tropes. Further, and contrary to [the complainant]’s view that it was ‘baseless’, I conclude that Professor Miller’s reference to Trevor Chinn’s ‘influence’ on the Labour Party having extended over a ‘long long time’ is supported by the research in the Open Democracy article.
Miller’s accusers, who included the Community Security Trust (CST), claim that when Miller countered these smears by pointing out that the Bristol Jewish Society was part of the Israel lobby, he was again using a so-called anti-Semitic trope. Yet as the campaigning group “Support David Miller’ pointed out about the original complaint that was submitted by the CST itself:
“As the University is only able to accept complaints about staff from current students, it was rejected. The CST then approached Union of Jewish Students of the UK and Ireland (UJS) to front a complaint. Its then-President signed a new complaint along with the then-President of its local affiliate, Bristol Jewish Society (JSoc).
“All JSocs fall under the auspices of the UJS, which is a member of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), which, in turn, is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation, the first of four Israeli ‘national institutions’ that formally constitute the Zionist movement. The UJS has as part of its constitution a core value of ‘engagement with Israel’, which entails ‘inspiring Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to […] Israel’. The union has a formal relationship with the CST and works closely with the UK outposts of two more of Israel’s ‘national institutions’ on Israel engagement programmes. One of these organisations – the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), the UK branch of the state of Israel’s fundraising arm – covers the core costs of the UJS. UJIA also sponsors UJS’s Israel Portal, which links to the UK outposts of Israel’s national institutions and the main Israel lobby groups in the UK. The UJS has reportedly received funding from the Israeli embassy, and the union jointly holds events with the Israeli Embassy in London, giving figures like former Netanyahu spokesman and Israeli ambassador Mark Regev the opportunity to propagandise to students.
No one has dared to argue that any of these relationships documented between organizations, are untrue or in any way factually incorrect. When David Miller spoke of these relationships at a February Labour Campaign for Free Speech online meeting, he was accused of being responsible for ‘abuse’ being received by the people who made the original complaint. Yet even if such abuse happened, which is to say the least open to doubt, no connection has been demonstrated between such abuse and David Miller. Such allegations have become a time-honoured Zionist ploy to play the victim when their own racist behaviour is pointed out.
A Refreshing Change
There is so much mud being flung at David Miller, and so much time and effort has been devoted by him and his defenders to refuting such material in detail, that it is only possible to deal with some of the most important examples here. However, what is refreshing about David Miller is that he does not confine himself to the restrictions decreed by the imperialist ruling classes, viz the classic IHRA-type trope that while criticism of the Israeli ‘government’ is permitted, it is not permissible to criticize Israel’s ‘legitimacy’ or to attack the international lobbying effort that supports it:
“There will never be a possibility of engaging in real Palestine solidarity work inside the Labour Party until or unless these people are removed from the party … the question is what we do about this, and I don’t want to divide people, but it is clear to me that we cannot win this argument inside the party, and there is a need for movements, perhaps new parties outside the Labour Party which need to be built. These are not easy matters, history is not propitious. The way in which the left has fallen out with itself, amongst itself in the last 10 years since the Iraq war, does not give me great cause for confidence, but it’s the only option it seems to me. I just want to put that out there as what seems to me to be the only possibility.
“There is of course much we can do to engage in Palestine solidarity work, which many people are doing, but we must also engage the enemy in this, which is not just the British government and US imperialism, but the Zionist movement. The Zionist movement and the Israeli government are the enemy of the left, the enemy of world peace, and they must be directly targeted. I know people say, ‘we must engage in Palestine solidarity work’, but let’s be clear: that’s not enough. In order for the Palestinians to win, Zionism as an ideology, as a philosophy, as an idea, must be defeated. And that seems to me to be the clarity which the current historical moment gives us. I don’t think I need to say more than that.”
The CST was ‘extremely concerned’ at these fact-based and entirely reasoned remarks. In another interview after he was sacked, with a reporter from a Muslim publication, David Miller elaborated on how Zionism is Islamophobic and racist, and promotes Islamophobia throughout the wider world:
“Its racist in the sense of … it had to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, meaning the creation of settlements from the 1880s onwards, then the creation of the state of Israel itself through force of arms, though the removal of three quarters of a million of the indigenous people of Palestine, and its racist in the sense of continuing to do that. That’s anti-Palestinian racism. But they have to encourage the idea of the radical Muslim, and that the Palestinian position is not a national liberation movement, it is instead radical and Islamic and therefore … this is the kind of thing ‘we’ should target, so it fits in very well with the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric of post -9/11, and that’s the way in which Zionism needs to encourage Islamophobia and hatred of Muslims. I got to that point, not from the theoretical idea that Zionism would have to do that, but from the empirical approach, which is to follow the funding for Islamophobic groups, like the EDL and the far right, but also the neo-Conservatives and some of the other organisations which have over the last 15 years encouraged hate crimes against Muslims, encouraged discrimination against Muslims…”
Thus, in another ‘shocking’ complaint from the Zionists, they complained that he had characterized Zionist promotion of Islamophobia as one of its five ‘pillars’.
As well documented by the Electronic Intifada, the top QC (lawyer) who was engaged by Bristol University to ‘investigate’ concluded as follows:
“… For reasons that are explained in full below, I conclude that there is no case to answer against Professor Miller in connection with any of the matters I have investigated. Nor in my view is there a case for any of these matters to be considered under paragraph 2 of Ordinance 28 (Early Action).”
Electronic Intifada, opt-cit
But the cowardly Bristol University authorities ignored their own legal adviser and sacked David Miller anyway, as his conduct was supposedly not up their ‘standards’. This appears like blatantly unlawful behaviour incited by a far right, racist lobby, and Professor Miller looks to have an extremely good case for appeal and an industrial tribunal having been cleared not only of the ‘anti-Semitism’ canard but also of any misconduct – to the point of having ‘no case to answer’ – by the enquiry set up by the University itself.
Jewish Voice for Labour and David Miller
Some of the left have shown considerable weakness over the Miller case, a product of his militancy and sharp anti-Zionism. Jewish Voice for Labour is a trend within Labour many of whose members are strongly anti-Zionist, but it still reflects some serious weaknesses. It was not founded as an anti-Zionist group, rather it had an almost civil libertarian aspect to it. As its chair Jenny Manson stated in a letter to the Guardian in 2017:
“Our statement of principles makes no mention at all of Zionism. Rather our objective is simply to uphold the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities. I gave an assurance from the chair that, in accordance with our statement of principles, you need hold no position on Zionism – for, against or anything else – to join and work with us.”
Some will therefore see this as a broad milieu in which they can fight Zionism, others will see this as an all-inclusive Jewish milieu in which the question of whether to really fight Zionism must be evaded in order to keep left-Zionists on board. The concept of a left-wing trend defined on ethnic lines is an ideological concession to Zionism, though this may not necessarily be apparent to some Jewish leftists with illusions in the revolutionary mettle of the Bundist tradition. But the Bolsheviks were hostile to this method for a good reason, as it puts communal unity above class unity, which can only be reactionary.
This softness is shown by JVL’s material ostensibly in defence of David Miller. Though it correctly notes that “The sacking of David Miller by the University of Bristol opens up a grim prospect for British academia” and concludes that “A faculty member has been dismissed – not for improper behaviour, not for unlawful speech, but because enough powerful people have made the university too frightened to stick to its principles. This is a moment of shame for the University of Bristol, and of danger for the whole UK academic system.” (ibid)
This is particularly pertinent as the racist, Zionist Jewish Chronicle, which has been caught lying and misrepresenting leftists over 30 times during the last few years of the Corbyn witchhunt, says that David Miller is “tip of the iceberg” and evidently seeks a much wider purge in academia, as do other Zionist lobby groups. (https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/miller-is-gone-but-he-is-only-tip-of-the-iceberg-1.521135)
But there are attacks on David Miller in the text of the JVL’s statement that reflect the kind of Zionist conciliationism you would expect from a movement that refuses to define itself as anti-Zionist, and which detract from his defence. Some of their criticisms undermine solidarity, such as saying that “remarks he made during a webinar … exaggerated the power and reach of Israel and its supporting ideology of Zionism” and clarifies that “Jewish Voice for Labour does not endorse formulations of critiques of Zionism and of Israel that promote an exaggerated view of Israel’s reach. That is formidable enough without exaggeration. Such formulations may fall comfortably on the ears of the already convinced but lessen the impact of other, more solidly founded critiques, and undermine the power of rational analysis.” (https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/david-millers-sacking/)
They do not actually elaborate on what, if anything David Miller has said that is factually incorrect. They might well find that difficult, as even the QC the University commissioned to ‘investigate’ his activities could not find anything wrong with his facts. But this argument is not really on the level of facts. Quite correctly, JVL make the point that “The answer to opinions which some find offensive – even deeply offensive – is generally more free speech, not less…. Statements can be misguided, exaggerated or even quite wrong-headed without them constituting hate speech that could justify expulsion.” But the failure to clarify what he has said that is factually wrong makes this a strange polemic in the circumstances.
Other Ways to Capitulate
A hint of what may be behind this is in the Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), another publication on the left that conciliates Zionism and indeed unlike JVL denounces the most radical elements of Labour’s involuntary exiles who refuse to vote for Starmer in elections. While they pay lip service to David Miller’s defence, they make it quite clear their contempt for his most important insights, his attack on Zionism’s promotion of Islamophobia. Thus, they write:
“However, our full support for professor Miller’s democratic rights does not extend to unconditionally backing his politics. In fact, we have fundamental differences with him on the nature and significance of ‘Islamophobia’ as a political dynamic that shapes the foreign and domestic policies of western states.”
The scare quotes indicate that they reject the entire concept and existence of Islamophobia and condemn his willingness to work with Muslim groups as a “sectional and religiously sectarian form of politics” and “counter to the radical, secular traditions of the workers’ movement”. At the same time, they write the following of David Miller’s analysis:
“He places particular emphasis on the links between Keir Starmer and ‘Zionist money’, and the way in which both Labour and the Tories are financed by Israelis or those who sympathise with Israel, such as Trevor Chinn – who was said to be close to both the New Labour project and to Boris Johnson, while the latter was mayor of London.
“Trying to explain the witch-hunt against the left, or political developments more generally, in this way seriously leads us in the wrong direction. If we are going to defeat the slander that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism and defend our democratic rights for free speech, then we can really have no time at all for these conspiracy theories or talk of shadowy networks working behind the scenes.”
So, despite their supposed defence, they accuse David Miller of peddling “conspiracy theories” and “talk of shadowy networks working behind the scenes”. What kind of a defence is this? It sounds like they are speaking with forked tongue: talking of ‘defence’ on the one hand, while slying giving the nod to the Zionist lies about ‘anti-Semitic tropes’ on the other.
‘Islamophobia’ has scare quotes, but their parroting of the Zionist smears certainly does not. This is because these people’s politics are a soft version of the politics of the pro-Zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty – sometimes known as “AWL-lite”. They have made a big issue of not supporting armed resistance by colonized Muslim peoples from imperialist attack. They opposed support for Iraqi armed resistance against the US/UK in the 2003 racist invasion of Iraq, and indeed condemned such resistance as ‘reactionary anti-imperialism’. Likewise, they were neutral when Israeli-backed Fatah overthrew the elected Hamas in the 2007 West Bank/Gaza coup and counter coup on the grounds that Hamas represent “reactionary anti-Zionism”.
And they condemn any attempt to analyse the power of Zionism in terms of the social weight of Israel-loyal Jewish-Zionist bourgeois communalists in the ruling classes of the Western countries. When anyone on the left tries to analyse the social weight of the Zionist lobby in historical materialist terms, the CPGB have no hesitation in completely rejecting factual rendering, and instead Nazifying (with ‘Holocaust” cartoons like the Zionists), those on the left who speak of such facts. As shown by the notorious statement of the Weekly Worker editor in 2014 when confronted with such facts:
“such ‘statistics’ say far more about the person quoting them than the people they claim to study. Even if we accept that those figures are accurate (a big ‘if’), then why would anyone consider them to be pertinent?”
They put ‘statistics’ and ‘Islamophobia’ in scare quotes, but terms like ‘conspiracy theories’ or ‘shadowy networks working behind the scenes’ are not in scare quotes. These capitulators are not to be trusted. At the first whiff of serious conflict, they will throw David Miller under the bus the way they did with previous leftists who they were too cowardly to defend. They are quite capable of doing a Jennie Formby and instead of fighting against the Zionist witchhunts, starting their own. As they did with Socialist Fight in 2018, and before that Ian Donovan in 2014.
A Pointer to Consistent Marxism regarding Zionism
David Miller’s best work points in a similar direction to key elements of our own earlier materials. His detailed analysis of the role of the Israel lobby and the forces in it point to the kind of analysis in one of our basic documents, our Draft Theses on the Jews and Modern Imperialism from 2014:
“Empirical observation alone shows that Israel has organised bases of support within the ruling classes of several imperialist countries, centrally the United States, and those in Western Europe (including the UK). In the US, AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) operates with great influence in both political parties; in the UK, there are powerful ‘Friends of Israel’ factions in all three major parties; the Conservative Friends of Israel in particularly embraces 80% of Tory MPs. This is a staggering level of sponsorship from the main party of the British ruling class; it is echoed in the other parties and this pro-Israel ideology has a similar level of hegemony to Cold War anti-communism among the ruling class.”
His detailed material points in this direction. And his material on Islamophobia parallels another facet of our politics, as expressed in this complementary article to the above document, also from 2014:
“Nor is it a coincidence that the vanguard role in ideological hatred of mainly Muslim people is taken by many of those in the Western ruling classes who are most of all loyal to the Israeli state, whose land was stolen by force from the Arab people, and whose entire existence as a state is bound up with permanent war based on a racialised hatred, of Arab peoples.
At one time this expressed itself in hatred of the secular Arab left; now that has been proven impotent and discredited, the resultant growth of radical Islamic sentiment as a manifestation of resistance, means that Jewish communalists in the Western ruling classes, with Zionist politics and their own subjectively nationalist project, have been able to interact with the mainstream gentile imperial contempt for the Arab/Muslims peoples of the Middle East, and inject a more virulent strain of politicised anti-Muslim bigotry into wider political life.”
The Shifting Face of 21st Century Capitalist Racism, https://commexplor.com/2014/10/27/the-shifting-face-of-21st-century-capitalist-racism/
In that sense, David Miller’s material appears to closely parallel our own, and offers the potential to develop on a parallel track to our own and perhaps enrich our own material and understanding of Zionism. For we consider, that while our material points the way to a consistently materialist and revolutionary understanding of Zionism, it cannot simply be the last word: it must develop further to build a mass international movement to overcome this ultra-oppressive phenomenon in a revolutionary way. In that regard what he represents appears to us to be something positive that should be defended in a committed manner by all the most advanced elements of the labour movement and the movement for Palestinian liberation.
On Friday 15th October, the Tory MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, was fatally stabbed while he was holding his weekly constituency surgery. It is still unclear what the motivation that drove the attack was and the police still have not confirmed the full name of perpetrator. However, various media sources have named the suspect to be Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British citizen with Somali heritage. Some sources have suggested that he had been previously known to the security services who had been reported through the Prevent programme. If correct, this leaves many unanswered questions.
With the investigation in its early stages and ongoing with much unclear, what is clear are the politics of the victim and the overlooking of this in the eulogies that have followed from all sides of the political Parliamentary system. While we don’t condone this act, we certainly do not mourn for this Tory MP. Such violent spontaneous actions are unproductive and result in reactionary measures from the state, with calls for removal of civil liberties and attacks directed towards the Muslim community, which the attacker came from. Priti Patel has immediately called for the removal of anonymity on social media platforms, this is in all probability unworkable but shows the mindset of this reactionary government to capitalise from this attack.
It must be made clear that David Amess was an MP representing the Tory party, along with their ideologically driven class warfare attacks on British workers and their families, and British imperialism overseas. He was a strong advocate for capital punishment, Brexit and its racist driven agenda, and was a Honorary Secretary of Conservative Friends of Israel; a racist state responsible for the dispossession and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. He was a member of a party overseeing the austerity programme responsible for the premature deaths of 120,000 leaving 4 million children living in poverty, increasing homelessness and the deaths of rough sleepers on British streets, 160,000 dead from COVID malign neglect with its ‘herd immunity’ programme, and the demonisation of refugees with British indifference to the suffering and drownings taking place in the Mediterranean and the Channel.
The best way to understand what happened in the recent Labour Party conference is to bear in mind some basic facts about the General Election of 2017, recounted by UNITE’s recently retired former General Secretary here:
“Labour won 40 per cent of the vote. Since 1970, only two Labour leaders have achieved that: Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Blair. Bar the latter’s 1997 landslide, more people voted Labour in 2017 than in any election since 1966. In England the party won its second highest number of votes ever. Such statistics would usually mean an election victory. The reason that wasn’t so was because—contrary to popular perception and despite a terrible campaign—the Tories actually did extremely well, securing their biggest vote since 1992. The smaller parties were squeezed out of the picture. The British media and political class prefer to forget that 12.9 million people voted for a radical manifesto fronted by a left-wing leader in 2017.”
Len McCluskey. Always Red . OR Books. Kindle Edition.
It is quite clear what the conference signified for the ruling class. They do not want and will not tolerate any ‘radical manifesto’ from Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party. They are in no mood to make concessions to the working class, even the modest ones Corbyn was proposing. They demand a tame, utterly fake ‘Labour’ leadership to act as an alternative Tory/Neoliberal government for when the actual Conservative Party ceases to be viable as a ‘party of government’.
That is evidently not true at the moment, but the Conservatives under Johnson are skating on very thin ice, with both the disaster of the Covid death toll and Brexit now resulting in considerable and growing hardship. It’s obvious that the ruling class is trying to groom Starmer as a possible successor to stand in for Johnson at some point. The friendly reception he has received by the broadcast media, particularly the BBC, which unceasingly vilified Corbyn, is very noticeable, as is the fact that he recently wrote an Editorial (!) for the Sun (!)
Starmer, having gained office in the Labour Party through a set of 10 ‘pledges’ to maintain many of Corbyn’s popular left-wing policies that self-evidently was not worth the paper they were written on, became an echo-chamber particularly for Johnson’s appalling and murderous handling of the pandemic (“whatever the government decides to do, we will support it”) while running an all-out war on the left-wing pro-Corbyn membership. In the run up to this conference, his clique consolidated their hammerlock on the Labour apparatus. First Starmer floated a trial balloon of abolishing Ed Miliband’s One Member, One Vote (OMOV) system of electing the Labour leader, and restoring the Electoral College outright, giving MP’s the decisive say in who in future becomes leader.
This was not designed to actually get through, but as a negotiating position with the right-wing of the trade union bureaucracy, particularly that of UNISON, who then voted with Starmer to abolish registered supporters, and raise the threshold for nominations to stand as leader to 20% of the Parliamentary Labour Party. This is basically what they wanted: to ensure that never again could another left candidate like Corbyn be able to stand. If these rules had operated in early 2020 Starmer would have been ‘elected’ unopposed: i.e., appointed by the self-perpetuating Blairite PLP clique. The corruption is so blatant, without even a fig leaf, as to make Labour very publicly into an anti-democratic sick joke.
But Blair’s right-hand man, Peter Mandelson, who is also now Starmer’s mentor and right-hand man once again, told a rather feeble and transparent lie on the BBC’s Today programme about the objective of the changes:
“Jeremy Corbyn built on the rules that Ed Miliband introduced, which allowed hundreds of thousands of people to apply to vote for our future leader without actually caring about the Labour party, knowing about the Labour party and in many cases not even becoming a member of the Labour party.”
What these rule changes mean, and this is perhaps absolutely fundamental for people out in the country, when they’re asked to vote for Keir Starmer as their next prime minister, they can know with almost complete certainty that they’re not going to wake up one day and find Jeremy Corbyn there instead.”
Feeble mendacity as in 2015 and 2016 Corbyn won quite openly after neoliberal Labour leaders Brown and Miliband heavily lost two elections in a row. Without Corbyn Labour could well have become a minor party after 2015. But Mandelson and co are rigging future elections to prevent a revival of Labour’s mass base. This flirting with electoral suicide by Mandelson reflects his role as a faithful servant of billionaire oligarchs. That is what they demand. Such blatant corruption from a man who had to resign twice from Blair’s government for his own involvement in corrupt practices appears like a big ‘fuck you’ to anyone who has the slightest concern about honesty in politics. Thus, Labour has openly embraced the Trump-Johnson paradigm of blatantly lying in public.
Ballot-fraud and Institutionalised Racist Discrimination By Design
In the conference the election rigging was equally blatant. Large numbers of left-wing delegates were suspended, on an industrial scale, over many weeks as branches were preparing their delegations. A leading member of Jewish Voice for Labour, Leah Levane, was expelled when she arrived to attend the conference as a delegate on the second day, having been seated legitimately as a delegate when the conference opened. It is blatantly obvious that the purpose of all this was to fix votes. In particular to ‘elect’ David Evans, the blatantly crooked General Secretary, and the passage of new rules that allow him and Starmer to veto the membership of anyone seeking to join Labour.
Every fig leaf of labour movement democracy that was present in Labour was systematically unpicked by rule changes that were passed at the conference, which are so draconian that even the feeble Momentum leadership felt compelled to oppose it. Labour democracy is being replaced by a Zionist police state lawfare model, which replaces elected representatives with supposedly ‘independent’ legal eagles appointed by the General Secretary. The patter from the Blairites is that this was supposedly ‘legally mandated’ by the EHRC. If that were clearly true it would amount to a serious attack on freedom of association in British politics, though in fact the EHRC did not dare to go so far as Momentum correctly noted. The core of the changes are as follows:
“Labour’s national constitutional committee (NCC) will not hear disciplinary cases involving protected characteristics after the end of 2021;
“An independent review board (IRB) of lawyers is introduced to review disciplinary decisions involving protected characteristics;
“An independent complaints board (ICB) is introduced to adjudicate cases involving protected characteristics, made up of four lawyers, four Human Resources or other regulatory expert professionals and four members who have been in the party for at least five consecutive years. These board members will be picked by a ‘standing recruitment committee’, the members of which will in turn be picked by the general secretary.”
The General Secretary was appointed by the leader who swore loyalty to the racist, Zionist BOD. This was in practice a condition of being allowed to stand for the leadership itself without being suspended and barred by the already bought Labour Party apparatus (he was then ratified in a crooked conference vote in which he determined who was able to vote through numerous crooked suspensions of elected and mandated delegates). The GS appoints the “standard recruitment committee’ which in turn appoints the Independent Complaints Board (ICB) which will relieve the elected National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of responsibility for disciplinary cases involving ‘protected characteristics’. In other words, cases involving ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations will be decided by a puppet ‘Independent’ Committee of composed of ardent Zionists and lawfare specialists appointed by another committee appointed by the party leadership. The decisions of this committee of lawfare specialists will in turn be reviewed by another committee of similar lawfare specialists directly appointed by the party leadership. And this will operate within the framework of the IHRA pseudo-definition of ‘anti-Semitism’, endorsing Zionism as amounting to Jews’ supposed “right to self-determination” through the mass expulsion of the oppressed Arab population, and says that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to deny this ‘right’ or to say that this is a “racist endeavour”. This defines Palestinian Arabs as inferior human beings with inferior rights: it is Labour’s Nuremburg Law. This apparatus is nothing to do with opposing oppression or discrimination: its purpose is to institutionalise Zionist racism. It is consciously designed for this purpose.
Nothing about it is independent at all. It is completely totalitarian in intent and its complexity is simply camouflage to disguise that a committee (the NCC) elected by the Labour Party membership, has been replaced duopoly of Zionist lawfare bodies for waging war against anti-racists, to maintain a racist hierarchy in Labour. Both committees are appointed by the Zionist leadership, the higher one directly, the other through an intermediary committee. Both are puppets, therefore. Zionist Jews and allied racists are to rule the roost over black people through this system. The allied racists are actually white supremacists whose real nature is actually obscured by their bloc with Zionists in a particularly perfidious form of mutual camouflage. This will wage inner-party lawfare against ‘uppity’ blacks, Muslims and anyone else lower down the racist hierarchy sanctioned by Starmer and the party leadership, which mirrors the racial hierarchy the bourgeoisie itself seeks to enforce.
Individual mercenaries and dupes from other groups will be permitted to make themselves useful in helping to camouflage this arrangement, but this is not about them, it is about keeping the oppressed in line. Thus, Labour has now adopted a lawfare disciplinary structure whose purpose is to maintain the dominance of the Zionist and allied forces who threw Corbyn out of the leadership and now intend to hound his mass base out of political involvement in Labour, in the hope that this amounts to driving them out of politics altogether. This is about Zionist police-state politics taking control of Labour and putting in place a totalitarian structure to ensure that control can never be challenged.
Police State Zionist New Labour
Right in tune with this police-state ethos was the presence of armed police, within and without the conference. Armed cops openly carrying machine guns blatantly walked backwards and forwards through the protest outside of the conference on the Saturday organised by expelled and smeared members. It was just about within the realms of possibility that they were there by coincidence, to protect the conference against some potential armed threat, and not to intimidate those members protesting. But that was shown as untrue by what happened inside the conference, when during Starmer’s speech mace- and nightstick-wielding police stood at regular intervals down the gangway, an obvious threat to any dissenter or heckler. Some of these cops sported white supremacist tattoos. They obviously were working with the machine gunners and had such weapons available. These forces are enemies of the workers movement and should never have been allowed in a conference of a nominally working-class organization in the first place. It’s obvious that they were there to threaten the working class left.
Another outrageous manifestation of this is the announcement of ‘Labour Friends of the Police’ from the Blairites, which really does show their appreciation for police state repression against left-wing dissent. It should be recalled that Starmer abstained on the ‘Spy Cops’ bill which ‘regularised’ (i.e legalised) crimes such as rape, torture and murder by undercover cops. And Starmer planned to have Labour refuse to oppose the Policing and Crime Bill, which gives the government that power to ban ‘annoying’ protests. They only retreated from this after the grotesque scandal where women mourning and protesting for Sarah Everard, a young woman arrested by a serving cop, who then raped and murdered her, were themselves very publicly and violently attacked by the Metropolitan Police last summer using Covid regulations as a feeble excuse. Cops were photographed tearing masks off socially distanced, masked protesters who were clearly taking precautions against Covid, and throwing then into police vans maskless. Starmer clearly has more in common with these cops than with their victims.
Other means were employed also to intimidate dissidents. While bona-fide elected delegates were excluded, a whole layer of ‘visitors’ were bused in at key points to whip up a phoney semblance of ‘support’ for Starmer and his cronies. People who were inside related how these non-delegates demanded that people applaud at key points and tried to intimidate those inclined to heckle. They also led standing ovations, for Starmer and for the arch-Zionist and US asset/ smear merchant Ruth Smeeth.
Without the ballot rigging, corruption, and thuggery, it would have been a disastrous conference for Starmer. Discontent is still rampant at the base of Labour, though it is simply impossible for it to win out within the framework of the party – the party apparatus is simply irreformable and the party itself needs to be defeated. The sole remaining Corbynite in the Shadow Cabinet, Andy McDonald, resigned and denounced Starmer for trying to coerce him into opposing the demand for a £15 per hour minimum wage. The conference itself then defied Starmer and voted to support the same demand. Likewise, even after Smeeth’s raving, the conference showed the real feeling of the membership by voting by a large majority a motion that called Israel an apartheid state, condemned the “ongoing Nakba” and called for various kinds of selective bans and sanctions on arms and trade with Israeli settlements. Despite its limited demands, its denunciation was fairly sharp, and the Labour leadership made it very clear it fully intended to ignore it. Yet many tens of thousands have been purged for expressing the same views as most delegates. Labour’s membership on this crucial question is 180 degrees at odds with the leadership to such an extent that ultimately, one or other will have to go.
But there is no way the apparatus will allow the chance for another Corbyn to arise. Their objective is clear: to smash the left even if they must destroy all potential electoral appeal of the Labour Party itself. This is happening as Labour lags in popularity behind the most openly corrupt, extreme right-wing government in Britain since the days of “rotten boroughs” in the early 19th Century. The conference brought no bounce whatsoever in Labour’s ratings in opinion polls – still far below Johnson. In fact, one post-conference opinion poll showed Labour 13 points behind.
Starmer’s job is to protect the ruling class from any possible political challenge from the labour movement that could prove a social danger and a conduit for a working-class fightback. Conor McGinn expressed the view of the leadership when he said that those who joined the Labour Party to support Corbyn – the membership surge that made Labour into the biggest social-democratic party in Europe by a huge margin, and one of the biggest in the world — were “misguided or misled” though some were perhaps “not irretrievable” (for the ruling class, that is).
Stamping Out Reformism under Capitalist Neoliberalism
Jeremy Corbyn, contrary to the fantastic nonsense peddled by the entire neoliberal media, is not a Marxist, or a revolutionary, nor “hard left”. He is an ordinary social-democratic reformist, politically similar to leading Labour reformists of the past, the like of Attlee, Bevan, Wilson or Tony Benn. These were the kind of parliamentary reformists who created the National Health Service, the ‘crowning glory’ of British social democracy, and numerous other social gains such as social security, council housing, legalised abortion and homosexuality, which accompanied it.
These gains were conceded in an earlier period when the working-class movement was powerful, and the bourgeoisie had good reason to fear that the working class would be won to communist revolution if they did not make important concessions. The economies of the advanced countries at that stage were centrally based on manufacturing industry, and huge industrial armies of workers constituted the core of the workforce. Their organizations gave the labour movement, and the Labour Party in Britain, its social power and strength. Thus, the bosses had no choice, particularly in the three ‘Golden’ decades since the end of the Second World War, but to tolerate and work with that powerful labour movement and to resign themselves to the reforms that the labour movement had conquered.
The hegemony of neoliberalism over more than 40 years since the mid-1970s has changed that enormously. Neoliberalism is a strategy designed to counteract the inherent tendency within capitalism, which was analysed at length by Karl Marx in Capital, for profit rates to fall. This tendency, in a particularly pure form, undermined the long post-WWII boom over 30 years or so since WWII, and by the early 1970s had produced a major capitalist crisis. Neoliberalism was designed to counteract the fall in the rate of profit in the imperialist countries centrally by a major attack on the social power of the proletariat, in part through a major relocation of its most productive sectors to low wage countries, as part of an offensive against the whole working class. Mass unemployment was deliberately used as a weapon to weaken and crush workers organisations, which is not new, and was made permanent by sending jobs overseas on a massive scale, which is a newer tactic.
Large swathes of manufacturing industry in key advanced countries, Britain being a prime example, have been done away with, and many of the jobs formerly done by organized workers have either been mechanized out of existence, or when possible, outsourced to other, low wage countries where the labour movement must effectively start from scratch in conquering economic and social rights. The organized working class has been substantially weakened, in a way that is qualitatively worse than in previous defeats in the heyday of British imperialism, such as after the 1926 General Strike, when organization and politics suffered major setbacks, but the industrial workforces that underpinned the labour movement remained intact even if they were temporarily driven into severe hardship and unemployment, such as in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Those industries revived once the Depression came to an end. But that will not happen today as those strategic industries have largely moved overseas, as part of neoliberalism’s massive restructuring of the industrial proletariat.
This has led to a weakened, more fragmented labour movement in Britain. The large industrial battalions were a product of the strength of British imperialism; their decline mirrors its own decline. The growth of ‘services’ as a supposed replacement for formerly hegemonic manufacturing does not arrest that decline, as a great many service industries do not produce surplus value. Rather the financial sector appropriates, manipulates, and redistributes surplus value often produced by workers overseas, and employs a considerable number of highly paid ‘knowledge workers’, few of whom produce actual surplus value, but are essential to the process of manipulating it. This is not to say that no surplus value at all is produced in Britain today, but its production at home has been very much reduced, which is itself an index of British imperialism’s chronic decline.
The dominant sections of the labour movement today have shifted. In the old days of hegemonic manufacturing, they tended to be the large, often militant, unions of militant workers in manufacturing, extraction, and transport: miners, steelworkers, car workers and engineers, railworkers, dockers and lorry drivers. Now the extractive industries are tiny, and manufacturing has lost its mass militant element where it exists at all: engineering for example has become much more labour aristocratic as a result. Probably the most powerful groups of workers today are in transport, large scale retail (e.g., supermarkets) and the postal services, whose labour of transportation and distribution is an essential contribution to the production and realization of surplus value, most of which is produced in other industries. They maintain their social power therefore, and the bourgeoisie is looking to find ways to mechanise and do away with them to pocket the difference that their earnings make up.
The labour aristocracy has gained social weight in a much smaller labour movement and has been reinforced from the higher end of the service sector, which shades over into the financial sector and the essentially parasitic financial apparatus that it sustains. Union membership in Britain fell from 13.2 million at its peak in 1979 to 6.6 million today, which itself reflects a slow rise from an even lower trough over the past few years.
At the same time, the lower paid service sector workers have generally been neglected, under organized or indeed in many cases left unorganized. Health service workers are nominally organized by UNISON and the like which have many fine activists at the base but have been hammered by austerity along with other public sector workers even before the disaster of the Covid pandemic. An army of extremely badly paid workers provide essential services, from food to cleaning to care, again often under-organised or unorganised. Many work in the so-called ‘gig economy’ with appalling lack of rights, bad working conditions, zero hours contracts and the like, no job security and very little if any basic benefits such as annual leave and sick pay, which should be part and parcel of any half-decent employment contract.
Reformism is Utopian Today, For a Revolutionary Programme
This weakening of the Social Democratic-led labour movement in what was once, before WWI, and to a degree lingering up to WWII, the most powerful imperialist country, has produced a change that is not merely quantitative, but qualitative. The labour aristocracy and labour bureaucracy, has become yuppified and financialised, so that whereas much of it once had cozy and class-collaborationist relations with the large industrial employers or groups of employers in industries that are now decimated, much of today’s political bureaucracy in particular, and part of the union bureaucracy also, interpenetrates with financial sharks whose calling is not the production of surplus value in the old way, but scams and ruses involving financial chicanery, the creation of asset bubbles and the like. Which explains why New Labour, during the Blair/Brown government, presided over the most incredible, inflationary boom in property prices. Although the Thatcher government in the 1980s pioneered the housing inflation scam as an artificial means of generating an economic boom, it was Blair’s government that really ran with this and created the massive inflation both of house prices and rents that have led to the huge housing crisis in Britain today. The Tories since 2010 have just built on what the Blairites did.
This led to a ‘Labour’ party that was in practice no longer reformist in the old way that the British working class had become accustomed to. Every reform the 1997-2010 Blair government delivered was accompanied, and far outweighed, by a fusillade of reactionary attacks. This led to a situation where Labour’s mass base began to atrophy and dissipate, with the loss of millions of votes and a decisive collapse of Labour in Scotland adding to their woes. This manifested itself through the loss of the two General Elections in 2010 and 2015, where the Labour Party lost over 5 million votes in 2010 as compared with 1997 with its neoliberal campaigns.
In 2017 Corbyn’s social-democratic campaign recouped several million votes in the face of a much stronger Tory adversary, as in 1997 the Conservatives were in a catastrophic state and achieved only 30%. In 2017 Corbyn’s 40% was achieved in the face of a much stronger Tory vote of 43.6%. The 2015 campaign, where neoliberalism was slightly diluted by Ed Miliband’s soft leftism, gained Labour around 800,000 more votes, but in 2017 Corbyn advanced by over 4 million votes over Gordon Brown in 2010. They were different votes from those under Blair/Brown, as a key part of Blair’s project was to appeal to disillusioned Tory voters by the simple device of stealing many Tory poliices, whereas Corbyn did the opposite and gained votes – and many members – from working class people who had been so alienated by Tory-Blairism that they refrained from voting for New Labour.
The sabotage of Corbyn’s leadership was achieved by two combined tactics: the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign waged by Zionists, and mischief-making over Brexit designed to drive that part of the Labour-voting working class that voted for Brexit, towards the Tories. Starmer was central to both. In 2017 Corbyn tacitly accepted the result of the Brexit referendum but campaigned to make Brexit as soft as possible. In 2019 Starmer in effect unilaterally changed that policy shortly before the general election to one of stridently demanding a second referendum, without any serious political preparation. And Corbyn allowed him to do it. Though Corbyn did refuse to endorse Starmer’s call for a remain vote in such a referendum, publicly stating that his leadership would take a neutral stance in such an eventuality
There were dilemmas in this for socialists who defend the rights of migrants and oppose the anti-immigrant thrust and economic irrationality of Brexit. Given that sections of the working class had been taken in hand by reactionary populist demagogues and the Brexit referendum, however crooked, had already been lost, how to fight against these things is open to question and debate. There could be an argument for all-out war against the Brexiters by a stridently internationalist party, as advocated by Tony Greenstein among others. However, the Corbynites are left reformists who, though opposed in general to anti-migrant demagogy, were not and are not such strident internationalists. A tactical acceptance of a soft Brexit looked likely to be the best way to neutralise the issue, which is what succeeded in undercutting the right-wing populists in 2017. We would obviously give critical support to Labour in such circumstances without endorsing their programme, but on this question of how precisely to undermine the right-wing populists and win their working-class supporters to the side of Labour under Corbyn, which did have a class aspect to it, was a tactical question.
Starmer’s intervention in the election was not one of principle: his ‘tactic’ was simply to exploit these weaknesses to rile up the Brexit-supporting element of Labour’s base, alienate them, dissuade them from voting Labour, or even get the most backward elements to vote Tory. He worked hand in hand with the saboteurs in the Labour apparatus; this sabotage was extensively documented in the Spring 2020 leaked 851-page report on The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in Relation to Antisemitism, 2014 – 2019, which Starmer attempted to suppress, amidst extremely damaging material documenting bigoted abuse of a racial and anti-disabled character from some elements involved in undermining Corbyn (see No Vote to Zionist New Labour!, https://www.consistent-democrats.org/uncategorized/no-vote-to-zionist-new-labour/, for a full analysis).
Trying to defuse the impact of these damaging revelations, Starmer set up a supposedly independent enquiry under Martin Forde QC to investigate the leaking, the circumstances of creation of the original report and the veracity of its findings. Laughably, but entirely predictably, it has been kicked into the long grass up till now with various excuses including one of supposedly intruding on the work of the Information Commissioner, and though it promised to report by ‘Early Autumn’, it still has not done so. As a result, it has become a standing joke and is obviously being suppressed as was the report it is supposed to be investigating as the material it is forced to examine is too damaging particularly to the Starmerites. However now Starmer has tried to divert attention from the non-publication of the Forde Report by publicly accusing five leading Corbynites of leaking the report despite admitting that it does not have any actual evidence of this and having admitted in court that it does not know who leaked the report.
All this blatant corruption and lies underlines that Starmer is simply an instrument in the hands of the ruling class to crush the mass base of Corbynism. They see no need to tolerate social democratic reformism, they want untramelled domination of capital. The period in the past when the bourgeoisie was prepared to tolerate, and accommodate to a degree, social democratic reformism was the period when it had good reason to fear that if it did not make concessions to ‘moderate’ social democracy the working class would abandon social reform and overthrow the ruling class through social revolution.
The existence of the USSR and other deformed workers states as the embodiment of the remaining gains of the Russian Revolution was a dagger pointed at the heart of the ruling class, forcing them to make concessions to maintain their class rule. The Stalinist betrayal and undermining and then destruction through capitalist restoration of most of the workers states has removed this dagger and given the bourgeoisie the confidence to ride roughshod over the working class in advanced countries as much as in backward ones. Working class ‘privilege’ expressed in a dominant labour aristocracy in advanced countries is dying away, and indeed it is that dying away that at this stage has produced reactionary excrescences like support for Trump and Brexit in the working class.
But in the longer term, this blowing away of reformism also signifies the blowing away of the safety mechanisms that protect the ruling class from the wrath of the masses, and thus from revolution. The ruling class do not live in fear of revolution emanating from the USSR these days, but they are creating conditions that logically point towards the need for revolution by their destruction of past social reforms. Socialists should not despair from the political death agony of reformism that we are witnessing. We should use it to develop something better: a genuinely revolutionary programme, parties and an international movement that can destroy capitalism and save humanity from the spectre of civilisational collapse and barbarism that capitalism is threatening us with today.