I am puzzled why Steve Freeman criticises me for making comments about Jeremy Corbyn and not condemning the Tories (Letters, December 5), I wrote a letter (November 28), not an article, and I do not have to comment on other parties if mentioning one leader. The Weekly Worker publishes many letters and full articles where criticisms are made of Corbyn, Corbynism and Labour without necessarily condemning the Tories!
To reassure Steve, I hate the Tories, having been a civil servant and PCS union activist for decades. I am affected by and appalled at their austerity cuts and, through the ‘protest only’ samba band I set up in 2011, have marched on 117 protests to date, on many causes - most of which can be seen as opposing the Tories and their policies.
Steve argues as if Labour is the only show in town and is therefore fostering illusions in it. Just because various left organisations have set up, then undermined or abandoned, alternative parties when they were losing control does not settle the question of whether trade unionists and socialists should set up an alternative working class party.
Only 7% of Labour MPs are today from a working class background. This should matter to socialists. Their manifesto mainly benefits the middle class and they have increased their middle class support, whilst losing working class support. This matters and those not voting Labour should not simply be snarlingly dismissed as ‘racists’ because most voted ‘leave’. Labour should have backed ‘leave’ - if they had, they’d have had a landslide on December 12. But instead they decided to back ‘remain’ and have had to face the consequences electorally.
Typically like many on today’s left (who are not exactly increasing their membership) he resorts to labels instead of answering valid points. Many on the far left, like the Labour Party, have abandoned the working class - ignoring their concerns in favour of promoting identity politics over class and pretending their supposed internationalism isn’t actually globalisation. So, because I voted ‘leave’ my comments are apparently “straight out of the Faragean playbook”.
This is lazy. Tony Benn, Bob Crow, Arthur Scargill, George Galloway and Dennis Skinner were/are all against European Union membership, so are the usual insults of ‘xenophobe’, ‘little Englander’, ‘racist’, etc to be applied to them also? I’d rather be with them than with the billionaires for the EU, the establishment, the BBC, Blair, Mandelson, Campbell, Osborne, Cameron, etc, etc. And, of course, Corbyn was anti-EU before he caved in to the Parliamentary Labour Party right. Had he stuck with ‘leave’, the anti-EU vote in the referendum would have been much higher.
Steve castigates any English nationalist sentiment as abhorrent (I’m not an English nationalist, of course), but welcomes every other form of nationalism. What is progressive about Scottish nationalism, Steve? It isn’t even socialism in one country - it is Scottish capitalism setting Scottish workers against English, Welsh and Irish workers. What about the pro-European, but anti-English sentiment during the Scottish independence referendum? Had this been the other way round, the English would have been portrayed as racist.
How is Scotland an oppressed nation (the Barnett formula sees more funding allocated to Scottish than English citizens)? Just like with the EU referendum, the major parties all agreed to abide by the result of the Scottish independence referendum - until the Scottish National Party lost. In both cases we were assured the result would settle the matter for at least a generation.
If Scotland has another independence referendum and votes for independence, is it true that to rejoin the EU (assuming Britain actually leaves rather than agreeing some form of ‘Brino’) they’d have to get their debt levels down by slashing spending on public services? The SNP want to retain sterling and not join the euro. Isn’t that hypocritical? Why swap rule by Westminster for rule by Brussels? It’s far easier to elect MPs of a different party in Westminster than to change the entire EU political set-up. Cameron tried and got nothing.
Reforming the EU is as impossible as pulling the Labour Party to the left. Remoaners claim by voting Brexit we are going over a cliff edge. Here’s another one - why queue to climb aboard the EU Titanic, just as the life rafts are being lowered to let others get off (having seen the iceberg, which the captain is ignoring)? Finally, Steve, how is uncontrolled immigration under capitalism benefiting the British working class, as you claim? I’ve argued previously that under a socialist world order there’d be far less need for mass migration due to war or poverty. Those advocating open borders under capitalism are promoting globalisation and losing the argument all over the world - hence their resort to insults and labels.
Imperialists used to steal natural resources from countries they invaded. Now they simply plunder trained-up human resources (such as doctors and nurses) that their countries need more than us - and this is celebrated by some on the left! What an arrogant, Eurocentric view.
I’ve never had an answer from any contributors to my previous question: “Do indigenous peoples worldwide have any rights at all over unprecedented numbers of those coming into their country without their agreement?”
In July of this year Peter Gregson, the initiator of Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (Lazir) and a Labour Party activist for 40 years, was refused membership of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The rationale given by the PSC executive for refusing to allow him to appeal to the AGM against this was patently at odds with the PSC’s own constitution. This is very clear from the motion that two PSC comrades, with myself as proposer, put down for discussion at the PSC AGM to be held in January. It was submitted on November 26, in good time for the deadline for motions.
Transparently for putting this motion, I have been suspended from the PSC, of which I have been a member since 2005. The letter from PSC vice-chair Louise Regan informing me of this reads in full:
“Dear Mr Donovan
“Following receipt of concerns raised regarding your conduct as a member of PSC I have been appointed as the investigating officer. Following a preliminary investigation and in consultation with the executive committee a decision has been made to suspend your membership pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The branch secretary and chair will be notified of this decision and you are therefore requested to cease any further activity in the name of PSC. I will be in contact with you in the next few days to detail the process and to allow you to respond to the allegations that have been made.”
I have never pretended to be a spokesperson for PSC, so the demand that I desist from doing so is fraudulent. The executive has broken the constitution and sought to prevent the AGM from holding it to account. Ben Soffa of the executive told me they have ruled the motion out of order. The purpose is obviously to knock the motion off the AGM agenda and stop this being challenged. So the AGM is to be denied the right not only to make an informed judgement of the actions of the executive, but even to rule on its constitutionality.
In the motion we had pointed out that the PSC constitution states: “Admission to, and where necessary termination of, membership ... shall be the responsibility of the executive committee, to be ratified at the following AGM.” This means that the constitutional position is that someone who applies to join PSC, and is refused membership by the executive, has the right to appeal to the AGM.
There can be no debate about this: this is subject to ratification and therefore appeal at the AGM, if the wording of the constitution means anything. If the AGM is denied the right to hear an appeal against such a decision, it is being denied the right to an informed ratification of the actions of the executive.
The motion noted that Peter Gregson was refused membership in July by a decision of the executive. When he informed the executive of an intention to appeal against this to the AGM, Ben Jamal replied: “The provisions ... in relation to appeals is … only relevant to those who have successfully been admitted to membership of PSC and subsequently had their membership terminated or suspended.” So, as brother Gregson had not been “admitted to membership”, he was “not entitled to appeal this decision to the AGM”. Our motion, seconded by Jenifer Flintoft, had called on the AGM to hear the appeal.
In my reply to Louise Regan, I stated: “I am somewhat at a loss to know what public activity in the name of PSC I am supposed to ‘stop’. Because, although I support PSC and have done for many years, I have not to my knowledge engaged in any activity ‘in its name’ recently, if ever. I hold no elected position in PSC and would not presume to speak on its behalf.”
I noted that Louise Regan had referred to “allegations” against me without specifying what they were. However, I went on: “But circumstances make clear that your ‘allegation’ is that I put a motion in favour of the right to appeal against the denial of membership of Peter Gregson.” The only objective of Lazir is the disaffiliation of the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel from the Labour Party. This is completely compatible with the aims and objectives of PSC, and support for it is not proscribed.
I therefore concluded that the executive was clearly opposed to these objectives and actually supports the affiliation of these Zionists to the Labour Party. I stated: “That makes you a de facto political agent of these Zionist bodies.” I pointed out that the PSC executive was in breach of the PSC constitution and was denying the AGM the right to “an informed ratification (or not) of its actions regarding Peter Gregson’s membership”.
It’s perfectly obvious that the purpose of my suspension is to rig the January 2020 AGM and to stop this motion, which is completely in tune with PSC’s constitution, from being debated. Therefore it amounted to “an act of conference rigging”. I added: “The suspension itself is a corrupt act and the ‘investigation’ just a charade whose purpose is to defend the ‘right’ of the PSC executive to behave in an unconstitutional and likely unlawful manner.”
As I do not want to be complicit in such a corrupt breach of the constitution, I will not be cooperating in any way with this corrupt “investigation”. Anyone else who “cooperates” or participates in this fraudulent “investigation” in any way at all is likewise in breach of the PSC constitution and actively involved in AGM-rigging.
Finally, I declared that the pretence of acting impartially was a fraud. I have it on good authority that Louise Regan is a member of Socialist Action, which is a bureaucratic, Stalinist cult around a renegade ex-Trotskyist known as John Ross.
Being ‘investigated’ by a member of such an outfit is like being ‘investigated’ by a body controlled by the thug, Gerry Healy - the cult leader and rapist who abused the membership of the Workers Revolutionary Party for many years.
Klikauer and Simms go some way to characterising the hard right of today (‘Pretend language of democracy’, December 5). However, there is a difference in emphasis from the 1930s fascists like Hitler and the Japanese militarists. They stressed the ‘civilising mission’: subordinating or eliminating ‘unfit’ nations and races, in a drive to make an empire, a ‘new order’. Today’s hard right are much more defensive: they declare no empire, they seek to ‘protect’. To them, the cultural threat is mainly inside their societies - immigrants, feminists, sexual freedom.
The new authoritarians are nationalist, border-obsessed, sectarian; their enemy list includes ‘weak’ democrats and ‘divisive’ socialists as well as aliens. This hard right shares themes of defending the national fortress with president Trump. For Trump seeks walls, not wars.
His favourite word is ‘deal’ and, although it’s backed up with US force, Trump would rather sit down with strong leaders of individual nations than fight them. What’s more, he feels that America cannot afford another Vietnam war debacle. Hillary Clinton may have considered intervening in Syria, but Trump prefers to ‘keep America great’ by making other people pay, not by going out for colonies, dependencies or international bodies. Trump makes his appeal to the fearful and resentful who want him to keep the cash and the jobs at home.
In my previous letter I argued that the US-led intervention in Iraq had no defined policy for dealing with the collapse of the Iraqi state post-victory (November 28).
But Jim Cook points out that the whole debacle was based on a grand strategy - the ‘New American Century’ (Letters, December 5). The cheerleaders for this uber-plan of foreign policy were Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and John Bolton - all of whom had enormous influence over president Bush prior to, and during, the Iraq disaster. Grand strategies are mere ‘castles in the air’, when they ignore the concrete realities of political, social and economic relationships on the ground ...
I stand by my view of the occupation of Iraq as ‘clueless’ - Jim’s citing of evidence of incompetence, malfeasance and corruption strengthens my case. The US had a strategy: a strategy flawed by blind ignorance of Middle Eastern politics in general and those of the Gulf states in particular. It was doomed to fail.
But I am in full agreement with comrade Jim’s view of Rumsfeld and his acolytes - bastards!