Mr Speaker, John Bercow, does not want president Donald Trump to address parliament. Is Trump a worthy successor to Nelson Mandela? No. Is Trump a worthy successor to Aung San Suu Kyi? Ask the Rohingya people about that overrated figure. But is Trump a worthy successor to Barack Obama? Oh, yes, indeed.
By all means, protest against Trump’s actions. Up to a point, protest against his utterances. But do not protest against his presence. His arrival in this country would do us no end of good. Provided that the reaction were led by the right people.
The American Democratic Party has been defeated in the person of the most economically neoliberal and internationally neoconservative nominee imaginable. The lesson needs to be learned. The workers are not the easily ignored and routinely betrayed base, with the liberal bourgeoisie as the swing voters to whom tribute must be paid. The reality is the other way around. The European Union referendum ought already to have placed that beyond doubt.
There is a need to move, as a matter of the utmost urgency, away from the excessive focus on identity issues, and towards the recognition that those existed only within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace, including cooperation with Russia, not a new cold war.
The defeat of the Clintons by a purported opponent of neoliberal economic policy and of neoconservative foreign policy, although time will tell, has secured Jeremy Corbyn’s position, since he is undoubtedly such an opponent.
For 25 years, almost completely ignored except in relation to the Iraq war, a section of the political left and a smaller section of the political right have consistently opposed the racist, militarist and imperialist policies of the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. For 20 years, almost completely ignored except in relation to the Iraq war, a section of the political left and a smaller section of the political right have consistently opposed the racist, militarist and imperialist policies of the Blair, Brown, Cameron and May governments.
A steadfast stalwart has been, and remains, Corbyn. His election and re-election as Labour leader have been significant victories for the movement against liberal interventionism. Another victory was the social media campaign that led to the lobbying of the House of Commons, such that it defeated the Cameron government over Syria. Therefore, it is not correct to say, ‘They never did stop the war’.
In the event of a state visit to the UK by president Trump, it is imperative that those with that consistent, and not unsuccessful, record be the organisers of what would easily be the largest demonstration in British history, and that that demonstration be addressed by Corbyn. This would have the potential to politicise an entire generation, thereby changing Britain in myriad ways over at least 50 years. But it would have to be led by those who would have reacted in the same way to a state visit by president Hillary Clinton.
Yassamine Mather poses the need to reboot Hands Off the People of Iran largely in terms of exerting some influence on the left in Iran (‘Trump threatens N-deal’, January 26). The original Hopi combined this aspiration with that of being an anti-war group seeking affiliation (unsuccessfully) to the Stop the War Coalition. There was justified concern at the time of the likelihood of a war being launched against Iran. This once again looms large, although Iran is by no means the only focus of concern.
No explanation is offered for the decline of Hopi, though straddling the two themes mentioned above and lacking a clear perspective for either might form part of the picture. The left is an amorphous concept at best and by no means the same thing as the working class. STWC is essentially a popular-front operation of the sort that the CPGB usually disdains (before plunging in anyway).
There is a mention that the CPGB considered winding down Hopi (‘Getting to grips with Trumpism’, February 2). In reality this had already happened and Yassamine gives an explanation in the next issue: “After the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal we assumed there was no longer an immediate threat of war” (‘Coming full circle’, February 9). Impressionism and complacency combined.
The CPGB has never shown much interest in the crises that are looming in Europe with the Nato-led drive to the east and Asia, where China is viewed as an economic threat by the US; and Iran is a target as much for its role as a player in the conflicts in Syria, etc, as for its nuclear aspirations. I do not see STWC (or Hopi as a wannabe affiliate) providing the leadership to meet these challenges.
We need an anti-war movement based on a perspective of working class power, not a halfway house between socialism and pacifism.
It’s three years until the 2020 election and a lot can and will happen in that time. Internationally, Pyongyang might no longer exist. Iran might be largely glass and Trump might be about to launch a thermonuclear missile at Beijing. Alternatively, his proto-fascist government may already have collapsed under the weight of its own idiocy and a determined resistance to it.
Domestically this government might have already disintegrated, a new more confrontational fascist formation might have replaced the UK Independence Party, Corbyn might already be toast - or even, by some quirk, prime minister. That said, it is still necessary for Labour to plot a course to power based on all things being equal, because, as they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
At the moment, it is not looking good for Labour. The Tories appear united, whilst it is floundering. That can be turned around, but only if Jeremy Corbyn follows through with his anti-austerity, leftwing, socialist project on a principled basis. True unity can only be forged on the back of principles, not rotten stitch-ups and compromises.
Sometimes a step forward needs to be accompanied by two steps back for the initial step forward to be translated into something truly significant. Time to take the New Labour remnants in the Parliamentary Labour Party head on. We need a clear-out of the neoliberals and, if the local Constituency Labour Parties won’t deselect them, then we must put up independent socialist candidates pledged to help form a Corbyn Labour government, should the numbers be there. These seats will be lost otherwise, as workers will not turn out to vote for neoliberals any more - nor indeed for Labour candidates that they know in advance will refuse to form a Labour government under Corbyn, but would rather go into coalition with Tories, Liberal Democrats and others in order to prop up the bankers’ regime of austerity.
But there needs to be an overarching, principled framework for this fightback and that can only be provided by a socialist Brexit. Labour needs to put forward a radical vision and programme for a socialist, post-Brexit Britain and a new European settlement that can take on both the neoliberal, soft-Brexit alliance and any far-right Brexit formation that arises. Without this, Labour will almost certainly be dragged into the soft-Brexit unpopular front with the Lib Dems and pro-EU Tories - and to certain defeat and the end of the Labour Party as an electoral force, as happened in Scotland, where the right wing literally preferred party-suicide to a leftwing or socialist renewal.
So come on, Labour. Where is that programme for a regime of full employment, a national bank with a monopoly of credit, sustainable and democratic economic plans, workers’ democracy to replace fat-cat executives imposed by the ‘old school tie’ network, the socialisation of the mega-profits of the giant corporations and super-rich and for a new European settlement that does not treat workers like migrating cattle, chasing each other’s tails across the continent in search of ever crappier wages and ever more meagre welfare; or tether them like donkeys in abandoned sink estates, sink schools and sink communities, with barely enough education and training to compete for even the lowliest local job?
Britain voted for Brexit, in the final analysis, because British capitalism has failed completely and dramatically. It cannot compete in Britain, let alone in the European single market and with the rest of the world. Monopolised, stagnant, bankrupt and with a thoroughly debased currency, it has plunging productivity stats, thanks to a real estate bubble that is sucking up all ‘investment’ to the complete detriment to a real economy. So, if Brexit is to mean anything, it has to mean socialism.
A Tory-led Brexit will be a disaster for working people. The forces that led the ‘leave’ campaign had (and have) an extreme and reactionary anti-working class agenda and this is now playing out and must be resisted.
The referendum was not democratic, since non-British EU citizens who live and work here were denied a vote, as were 16 and 17-year-olds. The labour movement should campaign to defend free movement of labour within the EU and to resist the nationalist break-up of the EU. We don’t support the capitalist institutions of the EU, but we do support the potential that exists within the EU for working class unity against the bosses. We stand for a united European working class movement fighting for a united socialist Europe. The various national capitalist classes can’t unite Europe, since they are using the institutions of the EU as a stick to beat the working class and enforce austerity. No wonder that there is now mass opposition to the institutions of the EU and that the nationalist right, who are well funded and backed by sections of the capitalist class, are trying to use that opposition to build a reactionary mass nationalist movement to divide workers on the grounds of nationality and religion.
We are facing at least two years of great difficulty for May and the Tories, as the economic dislocation caused by Brexit starts to become apparent. The dynamic will be for the Tories to keep driving British politics to the right, with appeals to defend the nation. There are strong indications that the British labour bureaucracy will also move to the right and adopt a British nationalist posture. The dynamic of nation against nation, which will obviously grow during the exit negotiations, is not one that is a good ground for socialist politics.
Those leftists who advocated a ‘leave’ vote under a Tory government should have known better. Can socialists build an effective opposition to Tory Brexit, while still upholding Brexit as a step forward for working class people? I don’t think so. We need a clear, socialist, class-struggle opposition to Brexit. The Tories are our enemy - not EU migrants.
What a dreadful day Thursday February 9 was. MPs voted to ban refugee children, which is an absolute disgrace beyond belief, and then not to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living and working here to stay in the UK.
Parliament had previously agreed to host 3,000 refugee children: now it says 350. That is outrageous, denying basic human rights to innocent children fleeing war, ill health and poverty, initially caused directly or indirectly by us in the west.
Parliament decided not to guarantee the rights of EU nationals living and working in Britain to stay post-Brexit. That is also deplorable: we are talking about people’s lives, and their children’s, not about trade or goods. I hope the two million British people working and living in other EU countries will not be treated in such a shabby and racist way.
I am furious at these racist government decisions and the lack of serious opposition to them. We have to stop this lurch to the far right.
Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
The Momentum Grassroots networking conference takes place on March 11, somewhere north of Watford, we presume. The organisers tell us that it is not the founding conference that was planned for February. Its purpose is to debate - at long last - the way forward, to network local groups, etc.
Brent Momentum met on February 13, but unfortunately there was no agreement on anything. Pete Firmin’s motion condemning the coup - the Barnet one - was lost with only three votes for. A motion not supporting the coup but welcoming its outcome was lost with only a few votes for. The majority, about 10, wished that it had not happened and thought we should live in a better world without having to say anything about the real world.
The three of us at least will make the trek to Birmingham, Manchester or wherever on March 11.
And complaining about Lansman’s contempt for the democratic rights of the membership and then doing it yourself by pre-empting the outcome of the only democratic conference yet in Momentum displays only a slightly more leftist but still hopelessly bureaucratic attitude to the membership than Lansman himself.