Archive for the ‘British politics’ Category

by Robert Clough

As the Zionist campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party reached fever pitch in July, the passage of the racist Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill through the Israeli Knesset exposes the fundamental truth that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. Yet to say this, according to the Zionist press and the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs, is to be anti-Semitic, and they want to enshrine this in the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism code of conduct. Outrageously, Corbyn has not publicly condemned this censorship attempt at a time when the Palestinian people are suffering accelerated ethnic cleansing on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. By his silence, Corbyn has allowed the Zionists both inside and outside the Labour Party to get away with their lies, and has hung the Palestinian people out to dry.

The latest round of the Zionist campaign started with the presentation of a draft code of conduct on anti-Semitism to a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on 3 July. The document used the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, but excluded four IHRA-defined examples of anti-Semitism, of which the important ones for the Zionists are ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ and ‘applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’. These are the basis for attempts to ban events associated with Israeli Apartheid Week, or suppress description of Israel as a colonial-settler state. Yet until recently, the Zionists never specifically mentioned them since it would lay bare their real intention – to censor opposition to the Israeli state.

Zionists mobilise

The exclusions aroused virulent opposition from Zionist organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and, within the Labour Party, from the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), whose director is a former official in the Israeli London embassy. When on 17 July, the NEC formally adopted the code of conduct, the Zionists went into overdrive to denounce both the NEC decision and Corbyn. LFI chair Joan Ryan tweeted that: ‘the NEC has decided to prioritise the rights of those who seek to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel…’ This is the LFI which issued a statement blaming the Palestinians for the massacre of 14 May when Israeli snipers shot down over 1,200 Palestinian protesters, killing 62.

LFI MP Margaret Hodge took the Zionist campaign to a new level when on the evening of the NEC meeting she confronted Corbyn in parliament and shouted that he was a ‘fucking anti-Semite and racist’. Even though this was an obvious lie, her fellow MPs rallied around her and denounced any attempt to discipline her for using abusive language; the overwhelming majority had already condemned the code of conduct at a meeting prior to the NEC decision. The Guardian gave over a column to Hodge to justify her aggression. Throughout the piece, she did what all Zionists do: conflate Zionism with Judaism so that condemnation of Zionism becomes anti-Jewish and therefore anti-Semitic. She concluded by saying that ‘I stand by my action as well as my words’.

Israel: an apartheid state

On 19 July, the Israeli Knesset approved the Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill, which not only formally relegates the legal status of Palestinian people living in Israel to that of second-class citizens, but also endorses ethnic cleansing by stating: (more…)

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“In this way we are helped to maintain our social services at a level incomparably higher than that of any European country, or indeed of any country” – Churchill

by Tony Norfield

With the British ruling elites tearing themselves apart over foreign policy these days (regarding the European Union), I thought I would take a brief look back into happier times. Here are some choice quotations from major politicians and newspapers that stressed how much Britain’s position in the world produced big benefits.

First, Winston Churchill in April 1929. He is talking in Parliament about the City’s revenues, and its role as a global broker, as well as the big returns on British foreign investments:

“The income which we derive each year from commissions and services rendered to foreign countries is over £65,000,000, and, in addition, we have a steady revenue from foreign investments of close on £300,000,000 a year, 90 per cent of which is expressed in sterling. Upon this great influx there is levied, as a rule, the highest rates of taxation. In this way we are helped to maintain our social services at a level incomparably higher than that of any European country, or indeed of any country.”

Note that both kinds of revenue do not all come from the (more…)

US-armed Saudi troops in Yemen

by Yassamine Mather

During the last few days the port of Hudaydah in Yemen has been the scene of fierce battles between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces – the latest phase in a bitter civil war. Hudaydah, a city of 600,000 people, has been the only major port controlled by the Houthi rebels and its proximity to the capital, Sana’a, makes it a strategic asset. Seventy percent of the country’s imports pass through it.

The attack on the port is said to be part of a cynical plot to stop discussions of a peace plan prepared by UN envoy Martin Griffiths. He had warned that an attack on Hudaydah would “take peace off the table in a single stroke”.1Naturally, the Trump administration denies egging on the attempt to capture Hudaydah – despite being challenged by US senators, including those worrying over continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Last week, in a show of concern, acting assistant secretary of state for near east affairs David Satterfield gave specific information about the location of targets that should be avoided, based on satellite data.

Not a Sunni-Shi’a conflict

However, on June 15 the US and the UK opposed Sweden’s attempt to (more…)

Public beheadings take place each year by the score, frequently for taking part in political protests

by Lutte Ouvriere

For more than two and a half years, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen that has already caused 10,000 deaths. Bombing has hit hospitals, schools and military positions indiscriminately. On January 1, 2018, a gas station in the marketplace of Al Hudayadh in West Yemen was hit, killing at least 20 people. According to the Red Cross, the cholera epidemic that is a direct result of the war has affected a million people since March 2017. Due to the embargo imposed by the Saudi regime, famine now threatens 70% of the Yemeni population of 27.5 million.

NZ prime minister John Key visiting Saudi Arabia 2015; what’s a few score of public beheadings a year between friends? Photo: Radio NZ/Kim Baker Wilson

Led by the US, imperialist powers gave their go-ahead, and the Saudis launched Operation Decisive Storm on March 25, 2015. The UN Security Council immediately approved. Great Britain, France and the U.S. supplied arms and military intelligence and continue to do so, ignoring the catastrophic effect on the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia is now bogged down in this endless conflict.

The Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, declared, “We’re doing this to protect Yemen.” Saudi Arabia has interfered in the region for decades, but its aim has never been to protect the population – it has always been to protect its own interests and prove itself a faithful ally of U.S. imperialism. Its role of “gendarme” for imperialism, together with its regional ambitions and the instability of its regime, are the ingredients of (more…)

May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Below we’re running a review of Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx.  The review was written when the bio first came out and is by a prominent British Marxist.  Its author probably did more than anyone else to re-establish Marx’s crisis theory in the English-speaking world, back in the early 1970s, and also both to re-establish the Marxist tradition in Britain on ‘the Irish Question’ and the imnpact of imperialism on the political outlook of the British working class and the Marxist approach to Labourism and the British Labour Party.  We’ve added a few more subheads and paragraph divides to break up the text.

by David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on 17 March 1883 in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx’s funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

‘His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’

So the appearance of yet another biography of Karl Marx, this time by the former Guardian columnist Francis Wheen,1 claiming that ‘it is time to strip away the mythology and rediscover Karl Marx the man’ (p1), should put us on our guard. For Marx the man cannot be separated from his real mission in life and the dedication and commitment that invariably accompanied it.

Faint praise

A biography like any other ‘commodity’ has to have a market niche. Another tabloid-style denunciation of the man and his works would have little mileage. Neither would a revolutionary vindication of Marx. Wheen knows his punters – he wrote weekly for them in The Guardian. They rejected Thatcherism and a Labour Party gone Thatcherite. They are disturbed by untrammelled market forces, corporate domination, financial speculation and increasing stress and insecurity at work. They are alarmed by environmental destruction and Third World poverty but want well-stocked supermarkets supplied by global markets. They want to see change but not (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

Irrespective of what the experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say, there is no doubt that the Syrian dictator is capable of using weapons of mass destruction against his own population and it is possible that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack in Douma.

However, the point remains that the tripartite alliance of the US, UK and France has failed to prove that the Syrian government was responsible for this terrible act before launching a military attack. In addition, after all the fake documents produced prior to the Iraq war, can anyone trust the advice of international ‘experts’? There is a level of justified scepticism amongst ordinary people about British government claims of being certain who was behind the ‘chemical attack’ used to justify the military operations of April 14.

Chemical weapons

In the current situation, when Assad is clearly winning the eight-year civil war, why would he use chemical weapons on a small group of fundamentalist Islamists, Jaysh al-Islam (an offshoot of Al Qa’eda)? After all, his government, aided by Russia and Iran, has managed to defeat the other offshoots operating in Syria and, what is more, in Douma a deal had been reached that paved the way for the departure of the insurgents.

As late as April 12, US defence secretary James Mattis was telling reporters that the United States and its allies were “still assessing” reports of a chemical weapons attack on April 7 – days after his boss, Donald Trump, and British prime minister Theresa May had declared they knew what had happened and firmly blamed Assad.

Unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and elements in the Stop the War Coalition, I have no illusions in the United Nations and the sanctity of ‘international law’. However, it is interesting to read the case made by US law professors Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway against (more…)

Constance de Markievicz, in Irish Citizen Army uniform

by Philip Ferguson

Today (Feb 4) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the first woman elected to the British parliament! This was in the general election of December 1918, at the end of WW1. And no, she was not a Tory reactionary, but an Irish revolutionary – Constance Markievicz.

She was in jail at the time in London.

She had been second-in-command lof the insurrectionary forces at Stephen’s Green during the 1916 Rebellion in Dublin and, among other things, performed valuable sniper duties; after the surrender she was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitidue for life on account of her being a woman.

The British were subsequently forced to release the prisoners, from the end of 1916 to mid-1917. Considered one of the hardest of the hard-core, she was in the very last group of prisoners to be released, returning to an ecstatic welcome in Dublin.

In May 1918 she was arrested for sedition and again imprisoned in England. It was here that she ran for parliament.

She stood on a platform of independence and radical social change in Ireland and not taking her seat at Westminster if elected.

In that election, 73 seats were won by people who said they wouldn’t take their seat at Westminster if elected.  A majority of them were in prison or ‘on the run’.

(These people won a majority of the seats in (more…)