Neo-Stalinism

Murray goes, but who instead?

Andrew Murray, former Communist Party leader and prominent Stalinist, has resigned from his job in the Labour Party Leader’s Office. His associate Karie Murphy has already been lined up to go to the House of Lords. What will happen to their associate Seamus Milne we don’t yet know. Good riddance. The 3Ms axis played a big part in: • Labour’s fumbling and evasive policy on Brexit. Murray and Milne were keen Brexiters well before 2016, and retreated only step-by-step before the overwhelming rank-and-file Labour push against Brexit. • Labour’s antisemitism fiasco: Murray and Milne are long-time...

Poor choices for Labour leader

Labour’s National Executive Committee has set a short timetable for the leadership election. MPs and MEPs have one week to nominate candidates (7-13 January). Constituency Labour Party [CLPs] and affiliates have one month (15 January-14 February). Voting will run a month and a bit (21 February-4 April). New members can vote if they join by 20 January. There will be a registered supporters system, in addition to affiliate supporters (eg people registered through their unions). To get on the ballot, candidates need 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs (22), and then either 5% of constituency parties (33)...

Push out the Tories, sort out Labour

To respond to Orthodox chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ attack on Labour over antisemitism by pointing out that it is exaggerated only gets you so far. The reality is that since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, Seamus Milne took over the Leader’s Office, and some thousands of “returners” from the 1980s became newly vocal, a culture of antisemitism has flourished on the margins of the party and, in somewhat less virulent forms, deeper inside it too. A significant strand in Labour antisemitism is connected to a particular view of Israel and “Zionism”. While the party’s formal policy on Israel...

The message from Andrew Murray

Ever the Stalinist nostalgic, in his new book The Fall and Rise of the British Left, Murray laments the passing away of “a largely vanished world of working-class power” and the fact that “none of the scenarios which gripped the left I grew up with in the twentieth century appear fully plausible any more.” What is to fill the vacuum? Murray’s answer is not: Slough off the dead weight of Stalinism, re-assert the centrality of independent working-class politics, and reforge a labour movement fit for the overthrow of capitalism. Instead, and this is his explanation for Corbyn’s election as Labour...

Rearguard fight by Labour’s Brexiters

The wretched Skwawkbox blog, as ever representing the most craven and regressive forces within the apolitical Corbyn fan club, is presently promoting an open letter to Tom Watson, penned by one Chelley Ryan: “One of the likely reasons we have lost support over Brexit, is because many MPs like yourself, refuse to put the case for our sensible compromise position” bleats Chelley. Skwawkbox’s editor, the businessman Steve Walker, can scarcely contain his enthusiasm: “An open letter to Tom Watson about his behaviour regarding Brexit – condemning it, detailing the damage it is causing and reminding...

Labour after Peterborough

Labour’s victory in the 6 June Peterborough by-election has reduced the threat of a right-wing challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership challenge. The Peterborough result was won by a vigorous and well-resourced campaign. But it gives no grounds for complacency. The Peterborough campaign was not left-wing. It focused heavily on demands for more money for the police. Labour won essentially because the Tory vote held up better than in the 23 May Euro-elections. Enough Tory voters thought that they will soon have Boris Johnson or another hard-Brexiter as leader, and so no longer have to protest by...

Corbyn is reactionary on Europe

Labour’s victory in the Peterborough by-election on 6 June was of course good news. It was also bad news. It seemed to vindicate the Labour leadership’s political cloak-work and shilly-shallying on the EU. In the 2016 referendum Labour fought Brexit. Now, behind the attempt to avoid alienating either the Remainers or the Brexiters, by fudging and mudging, the Labour leadership are committed Brexiters. They want Brexit, a soft Brexit, yes, but Brexit is Labour’s policy, no less than that of the May government — Brexit, and refusal to commit to a “people’s vote” that would include a Remain...

Sack the 3 Ms

It wasn’t just Alistair Campbell types, Blairites, who defected from Labour to the Lib Dems or the Greens in the 23 May Euro-elections. Many left-wing Labour supporters defected too, or didn’t vote, disgusted by Labour’s equivocation on Brexit. In July we will get a new Tory leader and prime minister, almost certainly a hard-Brexiter. How they will negotiate the difficulty, which destroyed May, of getting a parliamentary majority for any Brexit formula at all, we don’t know. They will be under pressure to steer a course capable of drawing back millions of Tory voters who on 23 May went for...

From St George to Xi Jinping

The Times (18 May) has splashed our denunciation of the wearing of the old Russian imperial emblem, the St George Ribbon, by some members of Lewisham Momentum. The incident is only a specially gaudy display of the general political trend of the section of the Labour supposed-left which gravitates around the Morning Star. The Morning Star is the continuation of the Daily Worker, which for decades from 1930 was a mouthpiece for the regimes of Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev. It saw the old USSR as “socialist”. It based that claim largely on the fact that all sizeable industry in that regime was...

The story of the St. George ribbon

‪More on Lewisham Momentum and the New Stalinism here.‬ And here‬ At the AGM of the official Momentum group in Lewisham, south London, on 7 May, several people were proudly wearing, and handing out for others to wear, Russian military insignia: the ribbon of St. George. This isn’t the first time Stalinoid elements within the left have worn this symbol of Russian militarism: Eddie Dempsey (an RMT member who declared as a platform speaker at a “Full Brexit”event that the working class hated, and was right to hate, “the liberal left”) wore it while visiting pro-Russian gangsters in eastern...

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