Far-Left Press Coverage of the 2016 Anti-Semitism Row in the Labour Party and other Leftist Groups

“When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

April 28, 2016 at 8:50 in the morning, Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London and prominent figure in the Labour Party for several decades made the baffling statement quoted above on Leading Britain’s Conversation (LBC) radio. Supposedly he was defending MP Naz Shah1. She had reposted a meme on facebook in 2014, suggesting Israeli Jews should relocate from Israel to the US. This was made public in April 2016 and led to the suspension of Shah from the Labour party, because the posting was seen as anti-Semitic. Livingstone, asked to comment on it, said ‘her remarks were over the top. But she’s not antisemitic. And I’ve been in the party for 47 years. I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic’.

While Shah made a concerted effort to minimise the damage to herself and the party and swiftly issued a number of apparently genuine apologies (and eventually got reinstated), Livingstone’s radio comments made the whole thing turn into a proper scandal and a gift to the right wing press and the Tory party, since the local elections were only a week away.

Livingstone was swiftly suspended from Labour and sacked by LBC, where he had hosted a show with former Tory minister David Mellor for 8 years. He remained unapologetic, quoting the book by Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, which tries to posit a collaboration and similarity of intention between Zionists and Nazis. This is not supported by serious historians. Hitler himself left absolutely no doubt that he detested Zionism. In Mein Kampf he dismissed the conflicts between liberal Jews and Zionists as mock fights, in his opinion the ‘inner togetherness’ of all Jews was beyond doubt.
Hitler’s professed anti-Semitism explicitly included anti-Zionism.2

What did Livingstone want to achieve with his idiotic statements? The Weekly Worker wrote in 2004 ‘Livingstone is an accomplished political operator, with a near genius for manipulation and backroom freewheeling’ whose ‘further ambitions (…) no doubt stretch to No10 Downing Street’, adding ‘Livingstone himself cheerfully admits: “I love meetings and plotting. I didn’t get where I am today without plotting”‘.3

What was he plotting this time? Was he trying to plunge Labour into a crisis a week before the elections? Perhaps he’s not so close to Corbyn after all? Or is he just a loose cannon — or more than that — a liability?

And what did the far left say about these incidents? Let’s look at a few examples. [Read more →]

Jim Higgins: More Years for the Locust – The Origins of the SWP (Book Review)

Jim Higgins
More Years for the
Locust – The Origins of the SWP
Unkant Publishers, London, 2011.
ISBN 978-0-9568176-3-1

HigginsLocust001

Jim Higgins (1930-2002) was amongst the relatively large number of militants who left the ‘official’ (i.e. Stalinist) Communist Party in 1956 after the shattering experiences of reading Nikita Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech’, which denounced the crimes of Stalin, and the crushing of the Hungarian uprising. First, he joined ‘The Club’, a splinter from the erstwhile Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) lead by Gerry Healy, which was to become the Socialist Labour League, and later the Workers Revolutionary Party. Soon after, he joined the small Socialist Review Group (founded 1950) around Tony Cliff, which had also grown out of the RCP. This group would later turn into the International Socialists, which later became the Socialist Workers Party.
The topic of Higgins’ book is exactly this pre-history of the SWP. [Read more →]

Crisis in the SWP, or: Weiningerism in the UK

“There isn’t enough bile to conjure up the shame and disgrace of all of this, nor the palpable physical revulsion, nor the visceral contempt building, nor the sense of betrayal and rage, nor the literal physical and emotional shattering of people exposed to the growing madness day in and day out.”
Lenin’s Tomb blog, “Crisis in the SWP,” Jan 11, 2013

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is – or was until recently – widely considered to be Britain’s “largest revolutionary organization”. The party has been rocked by internal dissent and has lost many members. This development was triggered by allegations of sexual abuse against a leading cadre by a young female comrade. The person in question was the national organiser, Martin Smith, who was nicknamed “Comrade Delta” in the communications of the SWP. The party tried to brush the scandal under the carpet. They set up a commission consisting essentially of friends of the accused, who then proceeded to “exonerate” him. After asking the victim questions about her sexual past and her drinking habits, they predictably decided that the rape allegations were unproven. The pretext to handle this mockery of justice by a kangaroo court was that the “bourgeois court system” could not be trusted “to deliver justice.”

Perhaps in a previous age this sham could have worked. But when details of the case were “leaked” online it forced many to take a stand. Numerous blogs were set up and a number of members started to breach party discipline.
[Read more →]