Left groups and people

The uprising in Iraq

Iraq is in a constitutional limbo. Adil Abdul-Mahdi has resigned as prime minister, but he is still in office, as a caretaker. On 26 December Barham Salih, the president, refused to accept the nominee of the ruling bloc of Islamist parties. Salih threatened to resign himself. There is deadlock, and both Abdul-Mahdi and Salih are still in office. The entire ethno-sectarian political regime of Iraq is in a deep crisis though the power is still in their hands. The ruling Shia political Islam parties and their militias and intelligence forces have so far killed hundreds of the people of the...

Exclusion first, politics second?

Labour Transformed, launched apparently by some of the backroom people of The World Transformed (TWT), held its second meeting at Westminster University on 25 January, after a first meeting on 14 December. We saw about 30 people go in, and are told the numbers later rose to maybe 50. TWT, a spin-off from Momentum, has organised “festivals” of debates and workshops on the fringe of Labour Party conference since 2016. LT has made no mention of the second meeting on its website or social media. People claiming to speak for the (anonymous) organisers — for example in urging the staff of...

US-Iran: a clash of imperialisms

The conflict between the USA and Iran in the Middle East which has now flared hot again is a conflict between two imperialisms. They are two different sorts of imperialism. The USA is a world power, Iran, a regional power. The sway of the Iranian state over the oppressed nations within its own borders (Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Baluchis, etc.) is directly political and military. Its less direct sway in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, etc. is also politico-military. Being much less strong economically than US capital, Iranian capital has to rely on such politico-military methods. The USA, for decades...

Letters

Revolution by stealth I’m surprised that Katy Dollar’s report on the 14 December Labour Transformed conference (Solidarity 529) does not mention the repeated, unpleasant attempts of the organisers to prevent Workers’ Liberty members selling our materials and running a small stall in a corridor. I’m surprised, also, that the report does not mention the organisers’ comments to our members that AWL supporters would not be welcome in the organisation they were setting up, or their silly attempts to demagogically label us as the people who are members of the “democratic centralist organisation in...

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)...

"Regrouping the left”

I commend Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL) for broaching the difficult, yet important question of how the socialist movement can revive and reinvent itself and offer a genuine alternative to global capitalism against the false choice between neoliberal centrism and right wing ultra-nationalist populism. As the recent general election in the UK has demonstrated there is still a long way to go before anything that resembles a revolutionary movement comes to the fore. Despite the failures of Labour and Syriza, I still think a space is still possible for a new and truly revolutionary left. I...

Sanders, Corbyn and anti-Semitism

Bernie Sanders has a proud record both of supporting Israel and of being critical of its government. He summed up his views in a recent article for the magazine Jewish Currents, in which he wrote; “I think it is very important for everyone, but particularly for progressives, to acknowledge the enormous achievement of establishing a democratic homeland for the Jewish people after centuries of displacement and persecution.” The choice of the phrase “in particular for progressives” is deliberate. Because people on the Left, in recent years, have not acknowledged that the creation of Israel was...

Andy Shallice 1952-2019

Andy Shallice, a comrade from Sheffield Heeley Labour Party, died suddenly last Saturday, 14 December. Andy returned to the Labour Party with the Corbyn victory in 2015 and led local campaigning in the constituency. He was warm, funny, optimistic and politically switched-on. He fought for accountability and revelled in asking difficult questions of the local labour bureaucracy. Previously as a Unison activist. he had been key to the local rank and file, Unison Unleashed. He had been active on the left in the North West and Sheffield since the 70s, including with Workers’ Fight (a forerunner of...

Labour leadership: neither “LOTO continuity” nor “back to Blair”!

Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby has written to the National Executive Committee proposing the process of electing a new leader and deputy leader should begin on 7 January and conclude by the end of March. Under new rules agreed since the last leadership election, to get on the ballot paper candidates need nominations from 10% of MPs (21) plus either 5% of constituency parties (33) or 5% of affiliated organisations by conference voting strength, two of which must be trade unions. Since the Parliamentary Labour Party is still much more right-wing than the party membership, that may...

Why we're "paper-sellers"

Over the decades, pretty much every socialist effort of any substance has been organised round, and defined to the broader public by, a newspaper or magazine. The movement’s chrysalis stage, in the 19th century, of secret societies and of attempts to establish utopian model communities in remote areas, was different, but the rule holds since then. It is an oddity of today that there are socialist groups which have no regular publication, the SWP splinter groups Counterfire and RS21 for example. But they are small and not-very-active groups. Today, too, as of old, the “apparatchik” layer in the...

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