Counterfire

What’s wrong with “Stop the War”?MatthewWed, 19/10/2016 - 12:18

The Stop The War Coalition enjoyed its heyday around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but has regained some prominence since David Cameron’s government first proposed the bombing of Syria in August 2013.

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The left and the Brexit vote

Submitted by martin on 24 June, 2016 - 11:10 Author: Martin Thomas

On 24 June, as the Brexit referendum result hit the school where I work, both students and teachers were aghast.

The idea that this was a “working-class revolt” inflicting “a massive reverse” on the rich and powerful had no takers in a school whose catchment area is among the 5% poorest in the country. Some students told me “I have dual nationality, Slovak and British [or whatever it might be], so I’ll be all right. But...” And they’d sigh.

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Submitted by Janet on Sun, 26/06/2016 - 15:48

How much of the Brexit vote was based on insecurity of employment, and a sense that migrant workers from Europe reduce the bargaining position of workers against employers? And how much of it is based on a sense of resentment of London, as the rich and powerful centre that neglects the rest of the country, especially leaving people outside London with less satisfying, lower paid or even no jobs? I think that the left needs to develop and campaign for more specific demands and reforms aimed at enabling everyone to have meaningful work with decent conditions. Without that it will be difficult to persuade people that their anxiety about immigration is misplaced.

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Mon, 27/06/2016 - 19:30

Rather close to Martin's take.

http://newpol.org/node/1635

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Unite and a new Popular Front

Submitted by AWL on 19 May, 2015 - 6:20 Author: Jim Denham

“ … The [Labour] party’s leaders in parliament know that if they were to lose Unite, there could be an English Syriza formed with more resources and dynamism than the party it would replace”, Counterfire

It hasn’t been widely publicised, but for the last couple of years Unite leader Len McCluskey has been saying that in the event of Labour losing the general election, Unite would seriously consider disaffiliating from the party.

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Is Tower Hamlets really an Establishment conspiracy?AWLTue, 05/05/2015 - 17:46

None of the socialist organisations politically defending ousted Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman seriously analyse the judgement made against him by election commissioner Richard Mawrey. None mention George Galloway previously hailing a judgement by Mawrey (against the Labour Party and in favour of Galloway’s Respect) in 2007 — in a speech republished in full on the Socialist Worker website!

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Stop some wars?

Submitted by AWL on 28 April, 2015 - 4:53

The Syria Solidarity Movement UK reports that at a Migrant Lives Matter protest in London on 25 April, the Stop the War Coalition stopped the Syrian movement representative speaking.

The Syrian group calls for “a peaceful, democratic Syria, a Syria without Assad and a Syria without ISIS”. Their speech would have demanded the British government take in more refugees from Syria.

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A visit to Putin's camp

Submitted by Matthew on 4 June, 2014 - 11:40

Workers’ Liberty members attended the “Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine” meeting on 4 June, organised by the SOAS Marxist Society (Socialist Appeal).

On the panel were Russian leftist Boris Kagarlitsky, Sergei Kirichuk from the Stalinist Borotba via Skype, Richard Brenner from Workers’ Power, Lindsey German from Counterfire, Andrew Murray from the Communist Party of Britain, and Alan Woods from Socialist Appeal. It was chaired by Joy McCready, a member of Left Unity.

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Submitted by LM on Tue, 10/06/2014 - 14:29

Hey Dan,

As you say, you weren't at the meeting. I don't remember anyone trying too hard to stop the hecklers but maybe they did - fine, good on them. From where I was sitting, most of the hecklers seemed to be members of the British left and many of them were selling the Morning Star afterwards so I stand by my comment about the degenerate culture.

Most of the platform speakers emphasised the role of fascists in the Ukranian government but said nothing about the Eurasian Russian nationalist mysticism of many of the leading figures in the separatist movement (of more here) and when I pointed this out, I was denounced by members of the audience for believing the bourgeois press.

Apologies if I have misunderstood Workers Power's and the campaigns formal position but, from my memory and notes, the tone and content of the speeches at the meeting did not communicate a position along the lines of the one you have spelt out above. Given that there was such a one-sided emphasis on the character of the Kiev government, support for the annexation of the Crimea, much explaining away of the motives of the Russian government, and virtually nothing about the reactionary character of the leadership of the Donetsk and Luhansk movements, I think "useful idiots" is rather mild for a campaign that weeks to promote such a distorted view of events in Ukraine amongst the wider labour movement.

The article was a sketch of a meeting, not an exhaustive report, and not an elaboration of our programme. I agree that there is a lot to be said about the role of the US, the IMF reforms etc and that I should have said more but the article was seeking to counter-balance the narrative at the meeting so that is why the emphasis was elsewhere.

Good that there has been an emphasis on independent working-class action in conversations you've had but, again, that was not the focus of the meeting - in fact, it was barely mentioned. Let's see how it develops.

I think a large part of what the UK left can do is, first and foremost, try and find out what is actually going on and provide a source of reliable information for people trying to get to grips with the situation by translating and promoting the work of comrades in Ukraine; explain the situation to people in a way which propagates a socialist position on ideas of independent working-class action, imperialism and national self-determination; and raise money and support for the left in Ukraine trying to establish a "third pole" against the oligarchs on both sides.

Submitted by AWL on Tue, 10/06/2014 - 15:15

This kind of initiative, organised by the Ukrainian Socialist Solidarity Campaign, seems like one of the ways forward. See here.

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Hands off Ukraine! Russian troops out!

Submitted by Matthew on 5 March, 2014 - 12:32

Ukraine got independence only in 1991. Ninety per cent of its people, west and east, voted to separate from Russia after the old bureaucratic command-economy regime collapsed.

They had been under foreign rule, Russian or Polish, for centuries. By 1991 they had been under especially vicious foreign rule — Stalinist terror, deliberately-sustained famine, then police-state bureaucratic “Russification” — for six decades (east) or five (west).

Russia’s creeping invasion of Ukraine is a drive to restore that foreign domination.

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 05/03/2014 - 14:40

The sentence "It has, stupidly and undemocratically, rescinded laws which made Russian a second official language in Ukraine" is inaccurate.

The parliament voted to rescind the law on Russian language introduced by Yanukovych. But then the vote to repeal was vetoed by the president, and the proposal hasn't been raised again.

(Even if it had not been vetoed, Russian would have remained an official language in Crimea, which has an autonomous status within Ukraine).

It is still true that the parliamentary vote was stupid and undemocratic, and tells us much about the current parliamentary majority.

But it is not true that the rights of Russian-speakers in Ukraine have in fact been abridged.

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Next after Assembly?

Submitted by Matthew on 3 July, 2013 - 7:20

The People’s Assembly, held at Central Hall Westminster on 22 June, backed the demonstration called by the Unite and Unison unions for the NHS at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 29 September.

It also called for a “day of civil disobedience, everywhere” on 5 November and “local People’s Assemblies in every town and city”.

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