The Labour Representation Committee AGM is this Saturday – If It’s Serious About Defeating the Right It Should Get Rid of its President, John McDonnell
The Labour Representation Committee AGM is this Saturday – If It’s Serious About Defeating the Right It Should Get Rid of its President, John McDonnell
WHAT IS JEWISH VOICE FOR LABOUR FOR?
When Your Strategy Has Failed It’s Usually a Good Idea To Change Direction Not Dig A Deeper Hole
The LRC is holding its long delayed AGM this Saturday. The Labour Left has suffered a cataclysmic defeat at the hands of a state sponsored ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign. If the LRC is serious about reversing that defeat then it first needs to engage in a serious evaluation of what went wrong and why.
The Labour Right demonstrated in the past 5 years that it was happy to unite with the Tories and the Zionists in order to defeat Corbyn and the Left. If the price of that alliance was a General Election they were prepared to pay that price. As the Leaked Labour Report made clear Labour’s witchhunting staff were grief stricken at Labour’s success.
Today Labour’s witchhunters don’t even bother to hide the fact that criticism of Israel will result in expulsion. The ‘mistake’ as the LRC Executive Statement puts it of Labour’s adoption of the IHRA in September 2018 was nothing less than Corbyn and the Labour Left stabbing itself in the back. The IHRA, by making criticism of Israel equivalent to ‘anti-Semitism’ meant that from thereon in there was no need to find people in the Labour Party who didn’t like Jews. It was enough not to like Israeli Apartheid.
The first thing the LRC should do if it is serious about learning from the past is to remove John McDonnell as its President. Instead of acting as Corbyn’s praetorian guard and spearheading the Left’s advance, McDonnell scabbed on those who did fight. He didn’t merely appease the Right he went out of his way to please them. Who can forget his interview with Alistair Campbell, who was instrumental in the drive to war in Iraq, when McDonnell supported Campbell’s reinstatement to the Labour Party, after having voted for the Lib Dems, he supported.
I don’t recall McDonnell supporting the reinstatement of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson or myself, to say nothing of the hundreds of other members who were victims of a cruel and vicious witchhunt which literally drove some veteran members to their deaths. McDonnell’s behaviour was unforgiveable. He demonstrated that if he had become Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would have been putty in the hands of the capitalists and stockmarket spivs.
Last week McDonnell demonstrated that his lurch to the Right has not stopped. Almost alone amongst commentators he stated that ‘Keir’s got this exactly right.’ Starmer’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis, has amounted to giving Johnson a free pass and saying nothing about the thousands of uncounted deaths in care homes. The massive failure to deliver on PPE was a consequence of privatisation but Starmer again has said nothing. For McDonnell to praise his ‘constructive opposition’ means he has sold the pass.
When it came to the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign McDonnell told us Labour should take its advice from the Tory/Trump supporting Board of Deputies. When Margaret Hodge accused Corbyn of being a ‘fucking anti-Semite’ McDonnell urged that she should not be disciplined. No one was keener to haul up the white flag than McDonnell. McDonnell saw himself as the worthy successor to Hugh Dalton, Attlee’s first Chancellor, the guardian of sound capitalist finance.
At the very beginning of Corbyn’s leadership McDonnell demonstrated the direction he was heading in when he apologised on BBC Question Time for his Republican past and for having said that the IRA were ‘brave’.
Unless the Labour Left are capable of a serious analysis of what went wrong during Corbyn’s leadership and wake up to the fact that the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was a State directed campaign of destabilisation then they aren’t a serious left. The mere fact that the racist Tory tabloids were so concerned about anti-Semitism should have told McDonnell something. However he was so determined that Corbyn and he should come to power through appeasing rather than fighting the Right that he ignored all the signs that the ruling class was determined that this would not come to pass.
The LRC Executive’s Statement ‘Learning from mistakes of the past five years’ (paras. 12-17) is frankly pathetic. Corbyn didn’t make the odd mistake, he embarked on a wholly mistaken strategy of appeasement of the Labour Right. Appeasing John Mann and Tom Watson was like appeasing a rabid dog. They needed to be put down not stroked.
That is why I am moving a reference back of the statement on Saturday. We shall see whether or not the Conference turns out to be a lap dog or not.
Corbyn’s decision to throw his friends abroad and act as a punch bag to the Hodges and Bergers was not only cowardly it was insane. His inability to understand what the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was about was inexcusable. Corbyn was not an innocent abroad. I chaired many Palestine meetings in the 1980’s where Corbyn spoke. There is no doubt that he knew very well that ‘anti-Semitism’ is the first accusation that Zionists make when support for the Palestinians is on the agenda. So why the hell didn’t he say that instead of repeating by rote that ‘I am not an anti-Semite’.
The LRC was well placed to make a strategic intervention in the past 5 years. Instead it chose to do nothing. It was capable of challenging Jon Lansman’s disastrous dictatorship in Momentum, the primary cause of Labour’s defeat yet it kept quiet. This raises the question as to what purpose the LRC serves.
On the eve of poll last December, whilst Momentum, Lansman and the LRC were fooling themselves into believing that Corbyn was on the road to victory, I penned an Open Letter to Corbyn’s closest advisor, Seamus Milne, the architect of the disaster on December 12th. When the government’ files are made public in 30 years we will no doubt know who Seamus Milne, Laura Murray, Andrew Fisher and Corbyn’s other advisers were actually working for because it wasn’t for a Corbyn victory.
Starmer is the candidate of MI5 and the Political Police – he is Establishment down to his manicured fingers. ‘Sir’ Keir has pointed to his role in providing legal advice to striking miners and print workers. This is true but it was a long time ago when he was a socialist. Today he is the darling of the Right.
Jewish Voice for Labour
Jewish Voices for Labour are equally culpable and they have less excuse than the LRC. Formed at the 2017 Labour Party conference at a packed meeting during which Len McLuskey of Unite promised his union would affiliate, it has failed to live up to its promise.
I didn’t join it because I was sceptical about JVL being Jewish only and having a second tier of membership for non-Jews. I’m not opposed to Jewish organisations within the Palestine solidarity movement as a matter of principle but the Labour Party was not a solidarity movement. It was an arena where the class struggle was reflected.
Even more stupidly JVL declared that anyone, Zionist, non-Zionist and anti-Zionist could join though in practice the number of Zionists who did join must be on the fingers of one hand. What this betrayed though was a failure to understand that what was happening had nothing to do with Jews, still less anti-Semitism. It was a combined attack from the British Establishment and its Israeli/Zionist counterparts. To refuse to take a question on Zionism didn’t make you stronger but weaker ideologically.
British Jews, or the most reactionary amongst them, played their traditional role in the campaign to remove Corbyn. They were the playthings of others. The Zionist leaders of the Board of Deputies, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and Jewish Chronicle did their best to create an atmosphere of fear amongst British Jews and it is clear that they succeeded in that task. After all the middle class are particularly susceptible to ideological campaigns. It was the German middle class who voted overwhelmingly for Hitler in 1933.
In reaction to a survey by the Israeli funded Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that suggested that anti-Semitism in Britain was almost on a level with that in the 1930’s, Ha’aretz’s Anshel Pfeffer, who is a mainstream Zionist observed that:
‘Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions and just about every walk of public life. To compare today’s Britain, for all its faults, with the Jews’ situation in 1930s exhibits a disconnect from reality which borders on hysteria.
A ‘disconnect bordering on hysteria’ is a good summation of the whole fake anti-Semitism campaign.
Just as Jews were the middlemen in pre-capitalist society and in settler colonial societies like Algeria and Morocco, so they once again became the stool pigeons for others in the campaign to be rid of Corbyn. That was why the ‘strategy’, if one can grace it with that term, of JVL, of being a Jewish ‘cover’ for Corbyn had no impact. The Campaign Against Corbyn was never about Jews or anti-Semitism. It was about defaming the Left as ‘anti-Semitic’ and JVL fell straight for it.
Corbyn of course saw it all as a personal attack on him, hence why he kept parroting the statement that he wasn’t anti-Semitic. It’s not a personal attack to say that Corbyn is not the brightest tool in the box. He never seemed to understand that when they attacked him as an anti-Semite they were not using ‘anti-Semitism’ in its traditional meaning, dislike or hatred of Jews but hatred of what Israel does. Corbyn never took the trouble to understand what was happening. What is surprising is that those who were more intelligent than him, like Seamus Milne also did not get it. That is why I suspect that at least one of his closest advisors were also working for the British state.
The rest is history. Led by Lansman and the trade unions, Labour’s ‘left’ NEC decided to commit political suicide by endorsing the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism. You have to wonder that people who called themselves socialists allowed themselves to endorse a ‘definition’ that allowed critics of Israeli apartheid to be classified as ‘anti-Semites’.
It is untrue that Corbyn simply made a mistake or two. From the moment he was elected, indeed even before, he went out of his way to appease the Zionists. In the debate between the four candidates that the JLM sponsored and Jonathan Freedland chaired in July 2015, Corbyn went out of his way to praise Israel. It is as if 35 years of being in the Palestine solidarity movement hadn’t left a single imprint on the airhead.
Of course there were a few anti-Semites in the Labour Party. Always have been, always will be but the Zionists had no problem with anti-Semites under previous leaders. Indeed they got into bed with more than a few. When Herbert Morrison, as Home Secretary during the war, refused to admit more than a token number of Jewish refugees from the Nazis, the Zionists said nothing. Indeed they endorsed such a position since they too were opposed to the admission of refugees.
David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists Group, who knows Corbyn well, was instrumental in the JVL’s disastrous strategy. Rosenberg was happy to assure people that there was ‘some’ anti-Semitism in the Labour Party thus totally missing the point that it was not about anti-Semitism and never had been.
Tom Watson declared that he wouldn’t rest until every last anti-Semite was removed from the Labour Party. This is the man who as Campaign Organiser in the Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election in 2004 had issued a leaflet informing electors that ‘”Labour is on your side, the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers.”
The same Tom Watson who, when the racist Labour MP Phil Woolas was removed from Parliament by the High Court for lying about his Lib Dem opponent, which was based on a strategy of ‘making the White folk angry’declared that he had ‘lost sleep thinking about poor Phil.’
Or there was the ‘anti-Semitism Czar’ John Mann, who issued a scurrilous Anti-Social Behaviour handbook in which he identified Gypsies and Travellers as a law and order problem of anti-social behaviour.
What JVL should have done, but it was left to the Anti-Zionist Jewish Network and Labour Against the Witchhunt, was to demand that the racist Jewish Labour Movement should be disaffiliated from Labour. Despite its claim that it was a Jewish section of the Labour Party it is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation. Jewish anti-Zionists are not welcome whilst non-Jewish racists are.
JVL and the LRC, together with Red Labour (which only exists on social media) instead of teaming up with the Labour Left Alliance decided instead to organise separately in Don’t Leave Organise.
At a meeting on April 29th with Dianne Abbot and Bell Ribairo Addy on the platform, Jackie Walker and myself spoke from the floor. Immediately the Zionists demanded that the two MPs should be suspended. Unfortunately the MPs caved in to Starmer and apologised. Whilst JVL was right to issue a statement in solidarity with Abbot and Ribeiro-Addy they omitted to stand up for the right of Labour Party members and MPs to speak with and on the same platform as those unjustly suspended and expelled.
They also had nothing to say about Abbot and Bell Ribairo-Addy caving in and apologising to Starmer. If JVL is not prepared to encourage Labour MPs to develop a backbone who will?
Campaign for Free Speech
It is because of the failure of both the LRC and JVL to campaign against the Board of Deputies’s McCarthyite 10 Commandments that four of us – Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson and myself, teamed up to organise a series of meetings on the subject of Free Speech.
The first meeting in June included Max Blumenthall and largely escaped Zionist censure, apart from the authentic representative of the fascist wing of Zionism, David Collier.
The second meeting in July, which apart from the four of us included Professor David Miller of Bristol University, who was himself suspended, Tariq Ali and Norman Finkelstein proved somewhat more controversial. Since the meeting was about free speech Norman Finkelstein decided that he would be his normal controversial self in the course of which he praised David Irving, the holocaust denier as a good historian and also asked the rhetorical question of what actually is the Holocaust. He also, somewhat facetiously, said he didn’t know who had killed Christ, missing the point that that was not the point.
Norman was certainly being his normal provocative self. That was why he was invited! When I came back at the end of the meeting I pointed out that Irving had falsified and tampeed with his sources to fit in with his thesis that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust and I also added a rider to Norman’s comments about Christ Killers.
However there is no doubt that Irving, who is undoubtedly a neo-Nazi, is a good German military historian. At least that’s what the experts say! In the famous libel trial Irving v Penguinwhich Rosenberg and others relied on, Judge Gray found, in s.13.7 that:
as a military historian, Irving has much to commend him. For his works of military history Irving has undertaken thorough and painstaking research into the archives. He has discovered and disclosed to historians and others many documents which, but for his efforts, might have remained unnoticed for years. It was plain from the way in which he conducted his case and dealt with a sustained and penetrating cross-examination that his knowledge of World War 2 is unparalleled. His mastery of the detail of the historical documents is remarkable. He is beyond question able and intelligent. He was invariably quick to spot the significance of documents which he had not previously seen. Moreover he writes his military history in a clear and vivid style. I accept the favourable assessment by Professor Watt and Sir John Keegan of the calibre of Irving’s military history (mentioned in paragraph 3.4 above) and reject as too sweeping the negative assessment of Evans (quoted in paragraph 3.5).
Of course the Zionists exploded in their normal hypocritical manner. What is surprising is that the Zionist attacks were taken up by Rosenberg in an article published on the JVL blog, Who is David Irving? Rosenberg wrote that:
Even more shocking was after Finkelstein spoke not one of the other panelists, some of whom have played a significant part in anti-racist campaigns, used any of their concluding remarks to challenge Finkelstein’s praise for Irving. Disgraceful. I hope they will do so now.
There also followed an article by Rob Ferguson of the SWP. Ferguson pontificated about anti-Semitism and holocaust denial whilst claiming that but for the SWP we would already have been overrun by neo-Nazis.
I sometimes feel that people like Rosenberg and Ferguson live in a time bubble. Holocaust denial and people like Irving were dominant in the fascist scene 30 years ago. That was the time when holocaust denial groups like the BNP and the National Front were the main fascist organisations. That is not true today. Today’s far-Right accept the holocaust as part of the price for their alliances with the Zionist movement and the Israeli state. It clearly has not yet dawned on both Rosenberg and Ferguson that people like Tommy Robinson are admirers of the Israeli state. Holocaust denial is irrelevant to them.
In any event the responsibility for holocaust denial having spread beyond a small coterie of neo-Nazis is that of the Zionists who have continually used the holocaust as justification for Israel’s crimes.
Rob Ferguson, a loyal SWP member, kept quiet for over 5 years whilst the SWP dallied with an open anti-Semite and someone who dabbled in holocaust denial, viz. Gilad Atzmon. In a series of articles in the Weekly Worker, Socialist Unity such as Time to say Goodbye I asked why it was that a so-called Marxist organisation was in alliance with someone who spoke about ‘Jewish Marxism’? No answer was ever received.
Rob Ferguson also kept quiet during the SWP’s rape scandal when four different women accused the SWP’s National Secretary Martin Smith of having raped them. A Disputes Committee accused the woman of effectively lying and asked her about her past sexual history. To put it bluntly Rob Ferguson is a died-in-the-wool SWP hack but it seems that JVL has taken him to its bosom.
‘when the Socialist Workers Party first invited Atzmon to give a talk at their Bookmarks bookshop in London in June 2005, a large picket was organised by Jews Against Zionism.’
I can’t remember Ferguson ever protesting at the time but then given that the SWP has erased the whole episode from their collective memory that is not surprising. When Mike Rosen wrote to the SWP protesting about their alliance with Atzmon Hannah Dee, who was on the Central Committee and Viv Smith, who was on the CC, wrote to defend him. Lindsay German, now of Counterfire, also joined in pointing out that anti-Semitism is not the main form of racism today. Which was true but why should that excuse the SWP’s link up with Atzmon?
You can see a timeline here detailing Atzmon’s links with the SWP. Neither Rosenberg nor Ferguson ever protested about their tie up. And here is an interview with Atzmon in Socialist Worker.
Deborah Maccoby intervened in the discussion on the JVL Blog to explain that Rosenberg was wrong when he said that no one had challenged Finkelstein’s comments: I certainly took them up and more importantly Deborah pointed out that Finkelstein was a fierce critic of Irving notwithstanding his comments at the Zoom meeting.
But in fact Tony Greenstein did take up Finkelstein’s comments on Irving. This is what Tony said: “ I agree [David Irving] is a historian – one can’t take it away from him. The problem is that his politics has got in the way of his history and his research – and he clearly did tamper with his sources, if my reading of the libel trial is correct”.
This is not so much a challenge as an expansion, qualification and clarification – but in fact all Finkelstein said was that, in his view, Irving is a real, substantial historian – a judgment with which Tony agreed. This doesn’t mean that Finkelstein does not agree in his turn with Tony that Irving has tampered with sources and that his politics have got in the way of his history and research.
In The Holocaust Industry (p.71, footnote 60), Finkelstein states clearly that Gordon Craig is right to dismiss “Irving’s claims on the Nazi holocaust as obtuse and quickly discredited”, but goes on: “Craig nonetheless continues: ‘He knows more about National Socialism than most professional scholars in his field and students of the years 1933-1945 owe more than they are always willing to admit to his energy as a researcher and to the scope and vigour of his publications….his book Hitler’s War remains the best study we have of the German side of the Second World War, and, as such, indispensable for all students of that conflict.”
In the main text, Finkelstein calls the politics and motivations of writers like Irving as “scurrilous” and describes Irving as “notorious as an admirer of Hitler and sympathizer with German national socialism.”
There is no sign that Finkelstein has changed the views expressed in The Holocaust Industry.
Despite Debbie’s comments above Rosenberg simply lied in his final comment that
I was so surprised that they didn’t react after he said these things. I did not attend the event at the time but heard about the comments first through a third party, so I then sat down and watched and listened, and was duly shocked.
Of course I accept that only Finkelstein himself is responsible for those words. There is no absolute obligation on others to comment one way or another about his words. But it still surprises me that as far as I know the other panelists haven’t condemned them.
Why do I mention these things? Because the meeting was organized in the context of the Zionist demands to shut down free speech in the Labour Party and in particular that of anti-Zionists and Palestinian supporters. On this Rosenberg has nothing to say.
David Rosenberg boasts about his friendship with Corbyn being a constituent of his. There is no doubt that he has been in frequent contact over the past 5 years. Unfortunately rather than providing a corrective he simply reinforced Corbyn’s errors by accepting the Zionist narrative that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was a problem. If the Labour Party had a problem with racism it was over its previous support for the ‘hostile environment’ policy not anti-Semitism. Yet Rosenberg was happy to reinforce the mainstream narrative.
David throughout the past 5 years treated the Jewish Labour Movement as if it were a legitimate organisation. As Chair of the Cable Street Memorial Committee he gave it a speaker at the Cable Street Commemorations four years ago. As Asa Winstanley wrote on Electronic Intifada and as most of us understood long before this, the JLM was revived by the Israeli Embassy and its operatives as the chosen instrument to bring down Corbyn. Unfortunately, because of his Jewish chauvinism Rosenberg was unable to see or comprehend that the Zionist movement was acting as a coherent political force with the aim and intention of forcing Corbyn out and that the JLM was part of it.
When I was a member of the Jewish Socialist Facebook group I had a post criticizing Jon Lansman, a member of the JSG, removed by Rosenberg’s partner, Julia Bard. The JSG these days seems to resemble a family business more than a political organisation. When I posted a blog criticizing the JSG for not having supported Jackie Walker I was removed altogether.
The JSG also took over the Jews for Jeremy Facebook Group and promptly stifled any attempt to develop an organisation of the same name. Throughout the past 5 years Rosenberg argued against anyone on the Left criticizing Corbyn. The result has been that apart from the far left, there was no countervailing pressure on Corbyn. It is little wonder that he ended up surrendering to the Zionist narrative.
In his latest post on his blog Rosenberg writes about Irving’s friends in the National Rebirth Poland – NOP, a neo-Nazi group. It is well known that the NOP have a branch in London and have worked assiduously with a range of far-Right groups.
Unfortunately Rosenberg demonstrates that his political analysis is bankrupt when he describes the NOP as ‘Far-Right anti-Zionists who describe Zionism as “a power structure of colossal proportions that straddles the globe.’
This is not a minor mistake. It goes to the heart of why, despite his pretensions, Rosenberg and the JSG are not anti-Zionist. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-racism. It is the ideology of opposition to Zionist settler-colonialism. To be an anti-Zionist is to be an anti-racist. Poland’s NOP and Greece’s Golden Dawn are amongst the few fascist and neo-Nazi groups these days who purport to support the Palestinians. However these groups are bitterly Islamaphobic and racist towards Arabs. They are is anti-Semitic not anti-Zionist. When they use the term ‘Zionist’ what they really mean is ‘Jew’. To give them credibility as anti-Zionists simply demonstrates that Rosenberg and by extension the JSG does not and never did understand what anti-Zionism was.
I did point this out in response to Rosenberg on his blog but since he doesn’t take criticism lightly it was not published!