Priti Patel just loves to send planeloads of impoverished people off to Jamaica. They’re all murderers and rapists of course, though there may be the odd car parking offender sent in error. Anyone who objects is either a “lefty lawyer” or a “do-gooding celebrity”. Many of the passengers have been in the UK for decades, have no home to go to in Jamaica and face living, or dying, on the streets.
Why is she so keen? On the face of it, she comes across as an extremely stupid person in a cabinet full of the sort. Perhaps she’s in a competition with Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Gavin Williamson, Michael Gove … (you get the picture) for the Chris Grayling award for 2020. It’s clearly a tough field and there isn’t much time left.
But these things are not necessarily done out of stupidity. She wants all the ‘dangerous criminals’ out of the country before the year end. Dangerous criminals belong in their own country - except Shamima Begum, of course. One reason for this sort of action will be to cheer up the Daily Mail and Sun readers, who hated the European Union with its free movement of people and the subsequent driving down of wages and driving up of rents. Getting rid of foreigners is why they voted for Brexit in 2016 and for the Tories in 2019.
A couple of questions occur. Won’t even Jamaica have some leverage over the UK from January 1? Do they really have to accept the plane passengers? Another question: does this mean that the EU countries will be sending criminals back to the UK? There have been a lot of stories about dodgy characters and their easy life in Spain.
The UK is not alone in sending people away to die. The Guardian (November 11) had a story about a planeload of asylum-seekers being sent to Cameroon in what their lawyers describe as a “death plane”. Having been abused by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers making them sign their own deportation orders, they are being sent to almost certain death in the homeland they had fled from.
In 1963 the TV satire That was the week that was had a mock trial of home secretary Henry Brooke, who had ordered the deportation of a man to Nigeria, where he potentially faced death. The punchline of the sketch had an ‘interrogator’ of Brooke saying, “Mr Brooke you are a murderer!” The BBC wouldn’t dare carry anything like that nowadays, but we can be confident that recent decades have produced a long line of home secretary serial killers.
And they have no shame! Not content with the ruined - and uncompensated - lives of law-abiding citizens of this country, who couldn’t produce a mountain of paperwork in time for their persecutors, this government wants to send as many black and brown (or is that just a coincidence?) people out of the country as possible and as soon as possible.
“Like many others, I believed in that vision of national reunification under a socialist government, putting the needs of the people before the profits of big business. After all, had not the Irish been exploited long enough by British capital and British occupation?
“We have no left or right politics here in the Northern Ireland government - just centrist and right politics, as espoused by the cabal of Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party. In many respects they are two polar-opposites, reverse mirror images - one of which is for ending partition and national reunification.”
So writes Fra Hughes (Letters, November 26), but with no indication as to what way forward is possible, or even conceivable. Yet, apart from left splinter groups, there is one party within Northern Ireland that as a whole still has hundreds of thousands of members, and many tens of thousands of socialists within that membership. It is the Labour Party, which still - even after over 40 years of struggle on this very issue - denies the working class within the Six Counties the right to vote for, or effectively against, the Westminster government, which is their ultimate ruler.
The gross pride of the British empire is still, perhaps more than ever, abundantly displayed in the ‘responses’ of Labour’s national executive organisation subcommittee - in particular to the repeated and well reasoned demands of members in the Six Counties to nominate and canvass for candidates for public office. Basically ‘You Paddies are not up to it - we are god-given honest brokers between your eternally warring tribes’. Conflicts within the Northern Ireland Labour Party are attributed to the racial defects of the Irish - whereas identical conflicts in the party in Great Britain are merely a part of the standard rough and tumble of factional disagreement. Louise Haigh, the shadow satrap for the Northern Irish, has insolently repeated this mantra.
The Labour Party has never been a clearly working class party - its bourgeois politics impede that standing - and so the class struggle has been fought also within its ranks; and perhaps never more so than now. But still at this time the working class cause and long-term interests cannot develop without participation in the Labour Party - and nowhere is this truer than in the Six Counties. Indeed, the full participation of Labour members in the north is one vital tool to correct Britain’s imperial presumptions.
Nor is this all: the communalist structure, which Fra Hughes rightly deplores, demands a non-sectarian political struggle. How can the working class in the north be united otherwise? Those primarily concerned to achieve a unified Irish state must recognise that mutual distrust within the working class is the main obstacle to Irish unity. At present, that is a prospect of indefinite distance. Even within the confines of reformism, the first step is through - and therefore in - the Labour Party of the state which currently governs Northern Ireland.
On November 4 the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) found against The Jewish Chronicle and obliged them to print a retraction of the claim made in an article that I had been expelled from the Labour Party after making “‘sickening’ comments about Jews” - comments which were apparently discussed in parliament. They duly printed the retraction on November 4.
A few points of clarification are needed.
In point 6 of the IPSO ‘summary of complaint’ we find the following: “The newspaper initially suggested that the reference to ‘sickening comments’ came from comments by David Cameron in the House of Commons. It later accepted that Mr Cameron had not referred to claims of anti-Semitism in his comments about the complainant, and suggested instead that the comments were made by an MP.”
But this does not say who that was. He was John Woodcock, a Labour MP at the time of David Cameron’s statement about me on March 9 2016. Woodcock - now ennobled as Lord Walney on Boris Johnson’s nomination - resigned from Labour in July 2018, and sat as an independent MP for the remainder of the term. In late April 2020, Woodcock was named as part of a consortium which owned the JC.
In point 2 of the IPSO ‘summary of complaint’ it is stated that the complainant “was thrown out of Labour in 2016 over his involvement with the Socialist Fight group”, including an article that was headlined “Marxists must address the Jewish question” and another that referred to a “world Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie”.
In defence of the headline, I would draw attention to Karl Marx’s 1843 article seeking real Jewish liberation, On the Jewish question, while chapter 2 of Theodor Hertzl’s 1896 pamphlet, Der Judenstaat (The Jewish state), is entitled ‘The Jewish question’. In more modern times I would cite the work of Abram Leon: The Jewish question: a Marxist interpretation.
It is therefore disingenuous and false to suggest that my use of the term, “the Jewish question”, was an endorsement of the Nazis’ use of it. I showed I have no truck whatsoever with Nazism and people who imply it is somehow better than Zionism. Mine is the standard Marxist reference to this question, as in ‘the national question’, ‘the Irish question’, etc.
On the question of the “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie”, Socialist Fight repudiated that term in an internal struggle in early 2020.
There are major political and philosophical differences, but debate and comment must nevertheless be conducted in a manner that is both truthful and fair, and complies with the law.
Last week’s fighting fund report by Robbie Rix included the comment from donor MW that the Weekly Worker provides a “mature tone”. At one level who would disagree? At another, surely it is by far the best to promote and encourage adventurousness? Revolutionary politics is never a playground, but on the other hand neither should fresh attitudes, as presented in different styles, be ignored, let alone suppressed. As subtle a differentiation as this may be, it is also a highly consequential one - and, with pure serendipity, that is the topic of a letter I’ve had in mind for a long time: one centring upon the fact that criticism of the working class has always been regarded by all those on the Marxist leftwing as out of bounds, as anathema.
Incidentally, a perfect example of revolutionary ideas coming in a different form - with different flavouring, as it were, or from other voices - is provided by cartoonist Andrew Marlton (‘First Dog on the Moon’); that is true even when he’s just targeting his native Australian oozings of capitalist gangsterism/state hypocrisy, fraud and lies - untouchable when fired off at global-scale excrescences. (Oh yes, it is vibrantly deep-cutting non-Marxist anti-establishmentarianism, but it is still on a class-consciousness-liberating scale!)
Jack Conrad’s polemic and historical review about the move to Scottish independence is a very interesting read as usual (‘Mythical, feudal, combined’, December 3). However, it left me with a strong echo of the famous quote about the Bourbons: “They forgot nothing, and they learned nothing.”
For revolutionaries the main enemy is always our own ruling class. Yes, of course, there are great complexities, and analysing the detail of situations is important. However, the collapse of the ramshackle remnants of the Brutish empire is to be welcomed.
If I may say so, the reader’s letter from ‘Ethel Rosenberg’ may be the best letter ever published in a British newspaper (December 3).