Felicity Arbuthnot draws attention to a report that hundreds of Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, have in the last few days signed a letter expressing support for the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The letter will be sent to Labour’s Annual Conference that will take place in Liverpool starting next Sunday, September 23, and continue until Wednesday, September 26.
The letter of support reads as follows:
“We are Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, committed to civil equality within Israel, to an end to the occupation and the blockade of Gaza, to a just peace and justice for the Palestinian refugees. The solidarity of progressive forces abroad is vital to our struggle, and we therefore welcomed the election of Jeremy Corbyn, a committed campaigner for peace, as leader of the British Labour Party.”
“Since his election, Corbyn has been subjected to sustained attacks for his supposed friendliness to antisemitism. We reject the substance of these accusations completely, and we note that some of Corbyn’s accusers, such as Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, are themselves notorious racists and allies of known anti-Semites, such as Viktor Orbán and the Polish nationalists.
“We also note that, even as many of Corbyn’s critics claim to respect the right to criticize Israel in theory, in practice their attacks seem designed to shut down debate on Israel-Palestine and prevent a future Labour government from applying any real pressure on Israel to change its policies.”
“At the same time, we recognize the reality of antisemitism, including on the left, and we applaud Labour’s sustained efforts to fight it within its ranks. These efforts are free from the hypocrisy of the right, which decries antisemitism, real and imagined, while openly encouraging racism of other kinds. In a global climate of rising fascism, this hypocrisy is extremely dangerous. In order to combat it, it is absolutely necessary to repudiate antisemitism while also standing up for Palestinian rights and for socialism.
“We call upon all friends of Israeli-Palestinian peace to join the Labour Party’s leadership in its unequivocal commitment to creating a politics free of hate and prejudice, and to support us in working together toward a future without oppression and discrimination in Israel and Palestine. Labour friends, we wish you success in your upcoming National Conference and in the struggles ahead.”
At the food of the letter, following Hebrew and Arabic versions, Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel are invited to add their signatures to the letter of support for Jeremy Corbyn: http://tinyurl.com/letter2labour
In June 2016, Mason (below left) wrote in The Guardian “One thing I do know: Corbyn is incapable of lying to the British people; he is inured to elite politics; he didn’t spend his entire life in a Machiavellian project to gain power and an invitation to Oleg Deripaska‘s yacht. That’s why I voted for him and will do so again if you trigger a leadership vote.”
In a recent New Statesman article, summarised below, he sees the ongoing delegitimisation campaign as preparation for a destabilisation campaign in that eventuality:
“Wave after wave of smears are unleashed against Jeremy Corbyn – even if you accept, as I do, that he is an imperfect politician and that Labour has specific challenges with anti-Semitism, which it has handled badly . . . It is impossible to pick up a newspaper, or listen to a phone-in, without hearing some person earning six figures say the left is the main enemy of decent people and should be debarred from governing Britain until it becomes more like the right”.
He names some of the British establishment ‘players’ in each round of ‘anti-Corbyn mania’:
- the Guido Fawkes website;
- the Murdoch newspapers
- senior decision-makers inside BBC News
Wannabe establishment Labour MPs – 30 or so – cannot reconcile themselves to the idea of a socialist party that fights for socialism.
Mason continues: “From the right-wing of the PLP, through to the golf clubs of Tory-shire and the chatrooms of the alt-right, a shared mythology is being created. It says: Corbyn is too dangerous to run Britain, Labour cannot be allowed to govern with him in charge; better that it loses and loses badly; better that something is done to stop him. For the Blairite MPs it’s the same game as in May 2017: diss the leader, lose the election, normal service in the interests of neoliberalism will shortly be resumed”.
He sees a riven party, with a dysfunctional head office . . . from compliance issues to the mechanisms for selecting candidates, there is a culture of horse-trading which must be stopped..
“The Tory party has been bought and sold to the Saudi monarchy and the Russian oligarchy, and when Corbyn comes to power, that sordid menage will be cleaned up”.
To avoid this, during the next election campaign there will be the overt use of tactics used covertly in the Brexit campaign: “the full Monty of digital dirty tricks. For companies that specialise in rigging elections and destabilising governments, there will be a queue of clients”.
He ends: “So Labour needs a step change on three fronts”:
First, streamline the internal discipline
As it expanded, Labour began to attract people for whom the concept of being “left” was bound up – as has been pointed out by other contributors – with anti-imperialism and anti-elitism, rather than a coherent positive vision of socialism. Mason stresses that we need to educate people in how to express differences respectfully; build a culture where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement: “If, amidst rising xenophobia and intolerance, an organisation – half a million-strong – is prepared to go out on rainy Saturdays and set up stalls arguing for migrants’ rights, or more generous welfare benefits, risking the ridicule of Guido Fawkes and Breitbart – what would be the logic of trying to smash it?”
Second, spread the load
There are numerous highly-talented centrist politicians sitting on Labour’s backbenches who could and should be in the shadow cabinet. Give them big positions and create a resilient alliance of necessity between the left and centre of the party, isolating the Blairite rump. Demand excellence from shadow cabinet members and replace those who can’t deliver it, regardless of past allegiances and reputations. That is Corbyn’s job.
Third, build a vibrant political culture
. . . where people are educated in the values of the Labour movement and its diverse traditions, not just given a manifesto, a rulebook and a list of doors to knock:
“We need a movement that helps people develop a belief in their own agency – not the agency of states, religions, autocrats or, for that matter, iconic Labour leaders. That part is up to us”.
Another Europe is Possible campaigned for a radical ‘in’ vote – building a community that is pro-EU even while it works towards building a stronger, reformed union that can bring about the radical social change our citizens need in the UK and across Europe. It sees Brexit as a crisis for Britain – an attack on rights and freedoms, and a potentially calamitous brake on our prosperity. But too often this debate is conducted in a language of fear.
That’s why it has released a new campaign of hope set out in a new report – The Corbyn moment and European socialism.
It was written by Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, Luke Cooper, Senior Lecturer in International Politics at Anglia Ruskin University, John Palmer, former European Editor of the Guardian newspaper and Political Director of the European Policy Centre and Niccolo Milanese, Director of European Alternatives.
It takes a fresh look at the critical role that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government could play in transforming Europe’s politics, working from within the EU. You can read it in full here, and order paper copies by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The report makes the case that institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change. A Corbyn-led Labour government could be instrumental to:
* Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax
* Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions
* Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate
* Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies
* Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis
* Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one
* Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it
The message ends: Jeremy Corbyn has transformed British politics – and if you think he’s good for Britain, he’d be even better news for the EU, if we stay in it.
See this inspiring video with an interesting reference to Portugal, said to be flourishing under a government which has rejected austerity and used taxes to invest.
In addition to many vitriolic responses in the Financial Times: which might be subject to paywall, nine readers wrote:
Great news – a British politician prepared to travel over the Channel with an international perspective and a passionate vision. Ultimately we have to engage with Europe on several levels beyond tariffs and regulations. Corbyn is right – no deal will be a catastrophe and must be fought passionately.
Corbyn surprises again. Plausibly prime-ministerial verging on embryonic statesman. As Labour cohesion increases, the Conservative seem more and more on the point of disintegration. Labour have a much better position on Brexit both politically and economically than the Conservatives who are in disarray. Corbyn’s direction of travel from Europhobe to pragmatic European is heartening. Let us hope his gathering momentum takes him even further in this direction.
The opportunity is to stay friends with our neighbours, be respectful, trade fairly, build bridges across the ever-widening English Channel which Teresa and the Toxics are digging deep holes in.
Corbyn is a socialist whose economic policies, if implemented, would lead to the sort of mixed economy model that is more or less mainstream in much of Europe. It is the UK that is the outlier. And it has become the outlier thanks to the systematic grooming of a decreasingly well-educated population by an extremely right-wing press and the adoption by the Tories and others of the political elite of any Chicago School nonsense that helped them feather their own nests. Meanwhile these so-called patriots happily fostered the destruction of stable and industrious communities in the country’s industrial heartlands. Allez Jezer, with the EU, or without, stick it to ’em.
Do not underestimate Corbyn. He is a populist with a genuine alternative (albeit one which may not appeal to many readers of the FT). Corbyn wants to overturn the entire Wilson-Thatcher-Blair consensus around equality of opportunity, and replace it with a UK built around equality of outcome. Reason: if everyone achieves their full potential, then that half of the people with below average potential will have below average outcomes, and they are getting angry.
The irony is, as I say somewhere in an earlier comment, if Corbyn performed an about-turn and decided Labour would be pro EU and pro Remain (as the majority of his party members and MPs actually are), I suspect he would win an absolute landslide in an election and wipe out the Conservatives. I’d vote for him in a shot. (I’m still holding out hope for a LibDem revival next time, but first past the post always makes it difficult. At least Vince Cable is a very plausible PM which will help).
It is very much in Corbyn’s interest to let the fumbling May government struggle on until 2019, sign a deal that will be denounced on all sides, and then exhausted by its efforts disintegrate. That will leave the way clear for a landslide Labour victory and an incoming radical government intent on building socialism in one country, with no tiresome eurocrats capable of diluting its ideological purity.
Unlike the current PM he is showing signs of growing into the job and learning the art of compromise.
I cannot wait for Jeremy Corbyn to be given the chance to build an independent, creative, robust and wide-ranging structure for the UK economic and political system. It would make a big difference to the unimaginative, unproductive, uninspired and scavenging Tories.
Richard Seymour’s major new book, Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, analyses how Corbyn rose to the head of the Labour Party, and his prospects for staying there. On the publisher’s website we read:
Jeremy Corbyn, the ‘dark horse’ candidate for the Labour leadership, won and won big. With a landslide in the first round, this unassuming antiwar socialist crushed the opposition, particularly the Blairite opposition.
For the first time in decades, socialism is back on the agenda–and for the first time in Labour’s history, it controls the leadership. The party machine couldn’t stop him. An almost unanimous media campaign couldn’t stop him. It is as if their power, like that of the Wizard of Oz, was always mostly illusion. Now Corbyn has one chance to convince the public to support his reforming ambitions.
Where did he come from, and what chance does he have?
This book tells the story of how Corbyn’s rise was made possible by the long decline of Labour and a deep crisis of British democracy. It surveys the makeshift coalition of trade unionists, young and precarious workers, and students, who rallied to Corbyn.
It shows how a novel social media campaign turned the media’s ‘Project Fear’ on its head, making a virtue of every accusation they threw at him.
And finally it asks, with all the artillery that is still ranged against Corbyn, and given the crisis-ridden Labour Party that he has inherited, what it would mean for him to succeed.
Liam Young: At last, Jeremy Corbyn gets the biography he deserves.
The ‘elite with two heads . . . Red Tories – little different from the Blue Tories’ – fight for the system which has so richly rewarded them
Lesley Docksey sent a link to an article by Jonathan Cook which is well worth reading. Jonathan suggests an approaching paradigm shift, increasingly driven by a younger generation which no longer accepts the assumptions of neoliberalism that have guided and enriched an elite for nearly four decades.
He points out, “Those most wedded to the neoliberal model – the political, economic and media elites – will be the last to be weaned off a system that has so richly rewarded them . . . They will fight tooth and nail to protect what they have even if their efforts create so much anger and resentment they risk unleashing darker political forces”. And continues:
“Ideas of endless economic growth, inexhaustible oil, and an infinitely adaptable planet no longer make sense to a generation looking to its future rather than glorying in its past. They see an elite with two heads, creating an illusion of choice but enforcing strict conformity. On the fundamentals of economic and foreign policy, the Red Tories are little different from the Blue Tories. Or at least that was the case until Corbyn came along”.
Corbyn’s message is reaching well beyond the young, of course. Cook writes: “A paradigm shift doesn’t occur just because the young replace the old. It involves the old coming to accept – however reluctantly – that the young may have found an answer to a question they had forgotten needed answering. Many in the older generation know about solidarity and community. They may have been dazzled by promises of an aspirational lifestyle and the baubles of rampant consumption, but it is slowly dawning on them too that this model has a rapidly approaching sell-by date”.
He comments, “But whatever his critics claim, Corbyn isn’t just a relic of past politics. Despite his age, he is also a very modern figure. He exudes a Zen-like calm, a self-awareness and a self-effacement that inspires those who have been raised in a world of 24-hour narcissism .
Corbyn’s style of socialism draws on enduring traditions and values – of compassion, community and solidarity – that the young have never really known except in history books. Those values seem very appealing to a generation trapped in the dying days of a deeply atomised, materialist, hyper-competitive world. They want change and Corbyn offers them a path to it.
Jonathan’s first degree was in philosophy and politics, after taking a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University in 1989, he gained a masters degree in Middle Eastern studies, with distinction, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, in 2000. He worked on regional newspapers, became a staff journalist at the Guardian in 1994 and later joined the Observer newspaper. He moved to Nazareth to become a freelance reporter in September 2001. – See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/about/#sthash.dy4qbxAs.dpuf. He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Stop press: as socialist democrat Bernie Sanders wins Wisconsin, building on recent victories in the Western states: Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington, winning seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries … most of them with ‘overwhelming, landslide numbers’, Sanders looks forward to Wyoming, where he’s hoping to get another victory in the state’s caucuses on Saturday. Like Jeremy Corbyn, according to exit polls, Sanders performed well with his usual strongholds of younger voters.
The guest speaker for the QSS conference on Saturday, March 12th: Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South.
After studying economics at the University of Bradford, he worked for the BBC and became an officer in the Territorial Army in 2006, serving for three months in Afghanistan.
In 2015 he was elected as MP for Norwich South with a large majority.
He is currently chair of the Parliamentary Humanist Group and a Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change under Lisa Nandy.
After the Quaker Socialist AGM Clive Lewis was introduced by Chris Newsam, the new QSS Clerk.
Clive Lewis served on the panel of Radio 4’s Any Questions show, held in Thornbury, Gloucestershire. The audience was ‘conservative Middle-England’ and Lewis described the other panel members as ‘formidable’:
MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (above left) is an anti-EU climate change denier who supported cuts to renewables, Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs (second left), is also a high-powered anti-EU climate-change denier and Juliet Devonport, CEO of Good Energy is an advocate of renewable energy.
Clive Lewis pointed out that the majority of Conservative ‘green’ cuts were not mentioned in their election manifesto and by implementing them, they’d broken election promises to be greener:
- Cameron had cut the solar energy and bio-gas subsidies and blocked on-shore wind-farms.
- He has taxed renewables – and cuts mean that they will miss EU targets by 25% in 2020 and could be fined.
- Cut-backs have led renewable energy companies in the UK to hold back on further investment.
- The government has given tax-breaks to the oil and gas industry, thus making the UK the only G7 country to subsidise oil and gas companies.
- Cameron has kept petrol tax down when oil prices had fallen and
- has privatised the Green Investment Bank, which destroyed its point.
Lewis was astonished to receive loud applause from such a conservative audience. Indeed, when Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to the threat of “socialist green taxes” the Thornbury audience was silent, and when Rees-Mogg said Cameron’s was “the greatest government ever” he was heckled.
The lesson he drew from this episode was that even at Thornbury, a Conservative stronghold, ‘natural Tories’ were prepared to oppose Cameron on climate change.
He then answered questions from the audience, advocating the integration of common policies on poverty, equality and climate change. John McDonnell, for example, could incorporate climate change and energy efficiency into his economic policies as part of creating the broad alliance necessary for winning in 2020.
When asked if the scientific evidence for man-made climate change is strong enough to base a broad alliance around it – and if it is really an “existential threat” to humanity, Clive said 97% of scientists thought so and in any case, supporting renewables was worthwhile just on grounds of efficiency, jobs and a clean environment (below).
Clive thought Jeremy was capable of compromise – for example, he was not against civil nuclear power as much as he had been. Jeremy would not shift personally on Trident renewal but the Labour Party as a whole might compromise in September and Jeremy would have to recognise this. Like Jeremy, Clive was against Trident on moral grounds but he recognised that full unilateralism might not be achievable. Compromise was a political necessity.
There are divisions in the Labour Party; the New Labour stalwarts had a “sense of entitlement” and, in order to remove Jeremy, they would be prepared to sacrifice tens of thousands of members. The PLP was still overwhelmingly Blairite in its views. Not only that, but the machinery of the Labour Party – the officials – were also Blairite. The Blairite grip on the party would take a long time to loosen.
Q: Could a Labour foreign policy work without Trident?
Clive thought it could, provided there was an increase in conventional military expenditure. Labour could support a level above 2%, and even take defence spending to 2.5%, in return for non-renewal of Trident. With extra money soldiers could be looked after better and equipment updated.
Drawing on his own experience as an army officer, Clive Lewis said, “MPs would think twice about bombing Syria if they had served in the army”.
Instead of interventions for regime change ( Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya) the armed forces could undertake humanitarian interventions.
They would assist foreign countries, not bomb them: a humanitarian foreign policy.
He called for an anti-Tory alliance at the 2020 election. The core of such an alliance had to be climate change, though poverty was another area that could unite the left, as was opposition to military intervention for the purpose of regime change.
Clive summed up by pointing out that last May only 1 in 5 voted Conservative so there was hope, if the opposition parties could unite. The problem was more amongst the rank and file than amongst the leaders. Rank-and-file Greens, Labour, SNP and Lib Dems were aggressively against such alliances. Thus Jeremy Corbyn and MP Caroline Lucas were close politically, and were even friends, but their supporters were too tribal to unite.
He was convinced that climate change was the key to an alliance, or co-operation across parties. It is an existential threat to humanity. In the world war of 1939-45 there was an existential threat to humanity from fascism and “we did not respond with neo-liberalism and privatisation” but with alliances, co-operation and socialism.
Clive Lewis had aroused enthusiasm in a Quaker audience despite calling for a sizeable increase in military expenditure. It was felt that the left of the Labour Party had acquired a major talent. His arguments had been sure-footed and convincing. and his eloquent speech drew extended applause.
Tags: 2020 election, alliances, Climate Change, co-operation, conservative audience, existential threat to humanity, humanitarian foreign policy, Labour foreign policy, military intervention, MP Caroline Lucas, neo-liberalism, privatisation, Quaker audience, regime change, socialism