Political Letter for members and supporters

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16/06/2021 by socialistfight

Dear Comrades,

Socialist Fight produced two flyers for the marches in defence of Gaza on 15May – 150,000 and on 22 May – 200,000. This letter is in three parts. Part One on Israel’s bombing of Gaza, Part Two on the Labour and trade union leaders and Part Three is the Grass Roots Left. Part One consists of extracts from the second flyer:

Gaza blitzkeieg May 2021

Part One: Unconditional defence of Palestinians and Hamas against the onslaught by Israeli Apartheid regime

Socialist Fight unconditionally defends the Palestinians and Hamas in Gaza against the brutal onslaught of the Apartheid regime in Israel. Nor do we condemn Hamas and the other liberation fighters for firing their rockets into Israel or plead for ‘peaceful demonstrations’ against the Israeli war criminals.

It was very noticeable that the liberal press, the Observer and Guardian, refused to report on the 150,000-strong London demo last Saturday, 15 May, instead highlighting the disgraceful anti-semitic rant from one car in a cavalcade displaying Palestinian flags passing through St. John’s Wood and Finchley Road in north London. Socialist Fight supporters commented that there were more women than men on that huge demonstration, the majority young Muslim women.  We saw only one Labour party banner and a Unison banner, although we were told that there were 3 RMT banners also. The bogus anti-semitism campaign against the Labour party members under Jeremy Corbyn, and intensified under Kier Starmer, is having a chilling effect on Labour left wingers, natural supports of the Palestinian cause. Corbyn spoke at the demo, but naturally Starmer wasn’t there.

The Palestinian Resistance to Zionism is Getting Momentum

The latest war between the Palestinians and Israel is not just another intifada. It is different in the sense that the Palestinians are fighting with confidence that they did not have for a long time. Palestinian national consciousness has reasserted itself in the whole region, in the refugee camps and in the diaspora in general and has got widespread Muslim support. Even Al Sisi’s Egypt in alliance with France has been forced to harden its rhetoric against Israel. The regional Middle East and North African regimes who have begun to recognise Israel have been very muted in their criticism of Israel and in their defence of the Palestinians.

Rights in a Multi-ethnic Workers State

Socialist Fight stands for a multi-ethnic workers’ state in Occupied Palestine/Israel and is totally opposed to a two state solution. We are for the destruction of the settler-colonial state of Israel and for a Multi-ethnic Workers State of Palestine in a Socialist Federation of the Middle East.

We reject the two state solution as an impossible dream now. Zionist settlements have made sure of this. The fact that it is a solution advocated by but never seriously sought by Zionism and imperialism and that it has been accepted by successive PLO leaderships and might well be accepted by Hamas does not make it a progressive solution nor one that the majority of Palestinians would opt for if they were given a viable choice.

We are for workers’ sanctions against Israel and are encouraged by the Italian dockworkers union who refused to load a ship bound for Israel, by the English firefighters in the FBU who refused a police request to assist them in evicting Palestine Action members from the UAV Tactical Systems factory in Leicester owned by the Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit And Thales UK who produce combat drones used against Gaza. And above all the general strike in Israel itself organised by Palestinian trade unions on which began on 18 May, the first in decades.

What slogans for the struggle?

Whilst we are for a multi-ethnic workers’ state, we are sensitive to the role that democratic demands might play in the revolutionary struggle. Demands for a constituent assembly and the fight for secular democratic rights are very likely to play a prominent part in the revolution but we know that these must be subordinate to the goal of overthrowing capitalism in Israel/Palestine but also in the entire region of the Middle East.

● Smash of the settler-colonial state of Israel!

● For a revolutionary Constituent Assembly!

● For Workers’ Councils united across religious and ethnic divides!

● For a Multi-ethnic Workers’ State of Palestine in a Socialist Federation of the Middle East!

● For Workers Sanctions against Israel!

● Sever all links between the Histadrut and all international trade union organisations!

● Defends Hamas against the Zionist state!

● For the military victory of the anti-imperialist guerrilla organizations Hamas and Hezbollah in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria!

  1. Mike Farmer on January 2, 2020

Five ‘facts’ for the simple :

1. Israel is the Jewish state

2. Jerusalem is the capital

3. Israel is *by far* the most free, liberal & democratic nation in the ME.

4. Israel has a duty to defend itself from those that seek to destroy it.

5. Antisemites tell lots of lies about Israel.

5 actual facts :

1. The state of Israel has Jewish/Muslim/Christian etc. citizens.

2. Israel’s PM Netanyahu has declared that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Trump agrees. The world doesn’t agree.

3. Israel has abandoned democracy and recognises only its Jewish citizens and any Jew anywhere in the world as being a part of the state yet denies Israeli statehood even to its non-Jewish resident citizens.

4. Israel attacks its neighbours on a regular basis and dishonestly spins it as ‘defense’.

5. Those who criticise Israel’s actions are labelled as antisemites by the racist Zionists though the criticisism is directed at the Israeli gov. not its Jewish citizens.

Reply

Bruce Levy on January 2, 2020

A quick guide to Israel’s PR methods:

1. We haven’t heard reports of deaths, we’ll check into it;

2. The people were killed, but by a faulty Palestinian rocket/bomb;

3. OK we killed them, but they were terrorists;

4. OK they were civilians, but they were being used as human shields;

5. OK there were no fighters in the area, so it was our mistake. But we
kill civilians by accident, they do it on purpose;

6. OK, we kill far more civilians than they do, but look how terrible other
countries are!

7. Why are you still talking about Israel? Are you some kind of anti-Semite?

Test this against the next interview you hear or watch.

Part Two; The Labour and Trade Union leaders

You really do have to point out Corbyn’s hypocrisy and political stupidity in throwing his strongest supporters under the bus and promoting his bitterest enemies.

That said he and McDonnell did address the crowd at the second Gaza London demo and say many of the right things. Zero chance of Starmer doing that; Labour is now 18% behind the Tories in the latest opinion polls.

Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Labour party on 29 October 2020 but was reinstated on 17 November. He was given a formal warning. Two days later Kier Starmer, clearly under instructions from rabid right wingers like Margaret Hodge and the right Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews, unconstitutionally withdrew the whip, meaning he was no longer a member of the Parliamentary party.

When challenged he claimed general secretary, David Evans had suspended him. In fact, neither Starmer nor Evans had the power to suspend him; that belonged to the NEC, who have the power to delegate, but who had NOT delegated it to Evans. And despite all the claims against Corbyn of having interfered in the disciplinary process this statement shows Starmer clearly doing so with no objection from ‘liberals’ like The Guardian.

those who deny there is a problem are part of the problem … Those who pretend it is all exaggerated or factional are part of the problem.”

Corbyn supporters in the party were forbidden from discussing the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report and many were suspended for doing just that and supporting Corby’s very truthful assertion that the problem of anti-Semitism was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”.

Moreover, the report has stipulated that disciplinary cases in Labour must be conducted by an ‘independent’ (i.e. Tory) body and Starmer has agreed, gladly, to do just that by mid-January 2021. This will inevitably result in mass expulsions of leftist supporters of Corbyn, who are now, by IHRA definition, all anti-Semitic for supporting the Palestinians against the state of Israel’s genocidal assaults.

Was Corbyn correct about the exaggeration? Channel 4 News, in a Fact Check, by Georgina Lee, 31 Oct 2020, reproduced the proof that he was entirely correct; the public perception was that upwards of 34% of the Labour party membership were anti-Semitic or had been charged whereas the true figure was just 0.3%.; That is the answers to the question in a poll conducted by Survation on behalf of Greg Philo, professor of Communications and Social Change at the University of Glasgow, in 2019 and contained in his book Bad News for Labour, “From what you have seen or heard, what percentage of Labour Party members do you think have had complaints of antisemitism made against them?” was 34%.

This testifies to the great success of the lying propaganda campaign orcastrated by the mass media, not least by the ‘liberal’ Guardian and the BBC, on behalf of the Labour right, the Tory establishment and the rightist Zionists organisations, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Labour Movement, and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, in getting the public to think the problem of anti-Semitism was more than 100 time greater that it actually was.

Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of the success rate of this lying propaganda. The following accurately sums up his approach:

There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, and this will always be ‘the man in the street’. Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth is unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.”

The EHRC report did not comment on the numbers of antisemitic incidents, so questioning their prevalence and the reporting of them was not, in any way, in contradiction to the report. Indeed, one of the peculiarities of the report is that it makes sweeping assertions about the scale of the problem facing the party without making any effort to estimate that scale.”

Excellent piece in the Morning Star by Dave Smith, leader of the Blacklisting campaign on 24 May. Sharon Graham and Howard Beckett spoke at our branch’s nomination meeting on 12 May. In the question and answer after I asked both about the McCluskey inquiry and why it had taken over two years so far. Sharon said she did not know how that inquiry was proceeding but she would produce it within 100 days of getting elected. Howard said the inquiry was proceeding fine and he didn’t know why Sharon was critical of the delay.

We all remember Brian Higgins’ allegation that he had finally got an unredacted  identification of Jerry Swain as one who participated in his blacklisting and are aware that he is still the head of Unite construction section UCATT, the U now standing for Unite. That is surely the reason for the extraordinary delay.

The story Dave reports here is familiar to me not only when I worked in the buildings but also on London buses. I was sacked from Willesden garage in 1994 for successfully opposing that fire and rehire offensive all over London then. All the TGWU had to do was tell it’s 20000 members not to sign and the offensive would have failed. But they told everyone to sign because they were going to court to prove it was illegal.

Both the Willesden rep, Elvis Vaughan, and the Convenor, Harry Foley, appeared as witnesses for the garage management to get me sacked. Tom Connolly, the branch secretary, was my rep and he was absolutely shocked at this. He said he had never seen or heard anything like it.

Despite strong disagreements with the WSWS SEP on their rank and file committees OUTSIDE of the trade unions and their total opposition to the unionisation of the Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama,  their criticisms of Ian Allinson do have substance. John Pearson agrees:

Extract:

Allinson’s proposal to censor the WSWS met with opposition from several posters, including John Pearson, who posted, “That would be censorship and I will have no truck with it. I will instantly stand down as an Admin if Comrade Allinson uses his position as an Admin to block postings from WSWS.” Others asked Allinson to explain what concessions were made by Unite and how could it be claimed as a victory. One asked, “Why not actually respond to their well-grounded critique of local union leaders?”

Oldham, responding to one of Allinson’s defenders, commented, “You ask for a ‘masterplan’ on how to bring out other garages. This should begin by telling workers the truth and not spouting apologies for Unite, organising drivers independently of Unite in a rank-and-file committee, and appealing to other bus workers, over the heads of Unite, for solidarity action. It is called the class struggle, and it cannot be waged outside of a political fight against Len McCluskey, et al.

“For many workers this is becoming a self-evident truth. But for you, Unite’s house-trained ‘critics’ and foot-soldiers, it is a foreign language.”

The WSWS has detailed Allinson’s latest efforts to apologise for Unite’s betrayal of the Go North West dispute in today’s accompanying article. His weasel formulations are linked to a Unite press release, which states, “The deal was struck following high-level negotiations led by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey with senior company representatives at Go North West’s parent company, Go Ahead Group.”

This is precisely what was reported initially by the Manchester Evening News on May 8 and then denounced as “libellous” by Allinson and others of a similar persuasion when reported by the WSWS.

Criticisms of the outcome of the strike, the failure to picket scab busses from other depots doing the struck routes but no criticism of failure to spread the strike beyond that, a claim that the company wanted £1.8 million in cuts but the union gave them only £1.3 – in fact the company wanted £1.4 cuts so they got 92.86% of what they wanted with the assistance of Unite, who got their sacked rep and other driver reinstated and disciplinary moves against all other drivers withdrawn. Diplomatic IMPLICIT criticism of Unite but no direct attack. Unite will now spend the next few years fighting to get back what they gave away in negotiations, we are delighted to hear.

But we must be grateful for this implied criticism of Unite. There is none at all from the RS21’s Unite Rank and File Ian Allinson or from the Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network, who hail the defeat as a great victory with a few minor problems to iron out.

Both Howard Beckett and Sharon Graham say contributions to the party could be cut if they win.

Part Three: Grass Roots Left Election Special

Unite and GMB General Secretary elections:

Vote Beckett in Unite, No vote in GMB

For Fighting Unions!

For a Socialist Labour Government!

Unite:

In the Unite election there is no rank and file candidate. Jerry Hicks stood on a rank and file basis for General Secretary of Amicus in 2009, in Unite in 2010 and 2013 and Ian Allinson stood on that basis in 2017. The number of nominations needed to stand has now been enormously increased to 5% of branches, 174, favouring Steve Turner and Howard Beckett as Assistant Gen. Secs. because of their contacts with the regions and branches. The previous number was 50.  We are faced with a choice between four candidates:

Gerard Coyne is the right winger, supporting the disastrous leadership of Kier Starmer. In the 2017 election Coyne stood on a programme to “take back control of our borders” which was obviously designed to keep out foreign workers.

Sharon Graham has good, fighting ideas for the union but she does not understand the importance of the political fight within the Labour Party. Len McCluskey, despite our differences with him, at least supported Jeremy Corbyn. We cannot abstain from the Labour party struggle whilst mobilising for the industrial struggle.

Steve Turner got the support of the United Left by just 3 votes. A number of Beckett supporters complained they were not allowed to vote. The UL is a highly undemocratic career ladder for aspiring bureaucrats. It has run the union for McCluskey and the Executive whilst expelling many good militants from its ranks in Scotland, Wales, and the North West. Turner is now being promoted as a sensible moderate alternative to Gerard Coyne, all things to everyone: “I’m an inclusive, tolerant left” he explains. He is backed by the Morning Star.

Jerry Hicks made a complaint to the Certification Officer about Steve Turner’s abuse during the 2013 Gen Sec. election.  Jerry wrote, “we proved that Unite failed to deal with my complaint properly regarding a vile re-tweet by senior appointed official Steve Turner”. 

Howard Beckett understands the importance of socialist pressure in the Labour party and the need to fight for jobs with big unemployment looming. He is best placed to lead a fightback on Fire and Rehire and all other attacks following the pandemic. He is fighting for a TV channel for Unite which will enable members to share details of strikes and develop best practice.

Nominate Beckett in your branch before 7 June and vote for him when balloting papers go out from 5 July.

GMB:

There are three candidates standing GMB Gen Sec. None are rank and file and none are politically on the left – the GRL does not advocate a vote for any of the three. Ballot papers went out to reach members by 12 May.

Gary Smith long standing regional secretary in Scotland which if he won it would be a continuation of regional secretaries holding the post. The continuing of the bureaucracy holding power. Seems strange that a regional secretary could in all honesty hold the post as that office fell under heavy scrutiny of the recent Monaghan report into the union’s running.

Rehana Azam leads on public services for the GMB would be the first woman and first person of colour to hold the role. So in some ways that could be seen as a breakthrough for the GMB. But it would not be a seismic move to the left politically and still a maintenance of the GMB as at best a neutral position in the Labour Party.

Giovanna Holt a senior organiser in the North West region has led the union on some major organising campaigns.

The main issue with the GMB general secretary election is that it’s as per usual all officer cast of candidates. The number of nominations being set deliberately high to prevent the emergence of a rank and file lay member to really speak for the members. That remains the main challenge to the GMB members and one that this election certainly doesn’t begin to solve. 

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