For all its rhetoric about working-class politics, the conservative-left and Stalinist faction in Momentum’s national coordinating group election, Momentum Renewal, has had little to say about the huge crises confronting the working class in the real world. Despite having a large network of supporters, including many people working full-time for Labour politicians, unions and the like, its blog has had only three posts.
Momentum Renewal’s candidates and organisers have, however, found plenty of time to spend attacking Workers’ Liberty – which sometimes seems to be virtually the main focus of their campaign. They have organised around the “Momentum Against the AWL” Twitter account, with three anti-AWL pledges (yes, really) which have been signed by the vast majority of Momentum Renewal candidates and very few others.
When I say attacks I don't mean harsh political criticism, but obsessive, lying, witch-hunting attacks which sometimes verge on intimidation and harassment. A cutting edge of these attacks on us is the claim that we are “Islamophobic”. They repeat this over and over, along with accusations of supporting “imperialism”, and so on.
Reality has a way of exposing lies, dishonesty and hypocrisy very quickly.
A number of Labour-oriented campaigns have created more serious pledges for Momentum candidates to sign. One of these is the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign, which champions the rights of China’s central Asian Muslim population against unbelievably brutal and most definitely Islamophobic suppression by the Stalinist regime.
Thanks in no small part to the work of Uyghur Solidarity (in which Workers' Liberty has played an important role), the Uyghur cause now has significant and growing support in the Labour Party and labour movement, from many political viewpoints. It is, however, opposed by the small but influential Stalinist elements in Labour – many of whom are grouped around Momentum Renewal.
17 Momentum and 28 Open Labour national committee candidates have signed the Uyghur Solidarity pledge. Not a single Momentum Renewal candidate has.
MR talk about Workers’ Liberty and our supposed Islamophobia is as if we were part of the far right. Yet they obviously feel actual murder, torture, rape, mass incarceration, etc, of Muslim people, as part of a vicious campaign of ethno-nationalist oppression with a strongly Islamophobic character, is a matter of little interest if it is carried out by an anti-Western, Stalinist state. So much for opposing Islamophobia, racism and imperialism. Contrast AWL and our allies in Momentum, who have used the NCG election to champion not just the Uyghurs but also other Muslim peoples suffering from oppression, particularly the Kashmiris.
The attitudes to the Uyghurs I am describing constitute a spectrum of denialism and apologism, undoubtedly shading in the case of some involved in MR towards quiet sympathy and support. It is obviously informed by the politics of Morning Star - MR's founders' statement includes many people prominently associated with the paper. The MS has faithfully parroted the script handed to them by Chinese state propagandists (eg see here and here).
It’s something like if a left group in the 1980s denounced another group as anti-black racists while themselves remaining utterly silent about apartheid South Africa, with whom many of them are known to sympathise.
Stalinists have long been only too happy to see the brutal suppression of Muslims by regimes and movements they regard as socialist, progressive, etc. In the 1990s the entire European far right cheered on the murderous assault by deeply Islamophobic Serbian nationalists against the Bosnian Muslims – including the demolition of mosques and so on.
They were joined by Stalinists, and in Britain Stalinist-influenced people on the Labour left, who allied with the racist right of the Tory party to denounce the Bosniacs. This has just come up again because of controversy around Boris Johnson semi-defending Serb nationalism and attacking the Bosnians in the 1990s with the claim that "they weren't exactly angels, these Muslims". Naturally Momentum Renewal will say nothing about this either.
The brutal Russian suppression of the peoples of Afghanistan would be another case in point.
The key Momentum Renewal organisers seem to have an utterly indifferent attitude to truth and facts. They will throw whatever seems likely to stick – as shown by the fact they have also claimed the AWL is transphobic and even, on occasion, antisemitic. Even the decision to target us is in itself a piece of opportunism, a calculation about what they think will help them win the election (because they have spent years ploughing the furrow of anti-AWL hysteria and know they have had some impact).
Next time you hear one of them rant about the AWL’s supposed Islamophobia, remember what is happening to the Uyghur Muslims, what happened to the Bosnian Muslims – and the fact that those who run Momentum Renewal really do not care about any of it.
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