A question for the new Labour leader

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Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer has gained a lot of publicity recently for stating that he will tackle Anti Semitism in his party but he has been silent so far on the existence of organised Trotskyist groups within the ranks of the party he now leads.

Trotskyist entryism dates back to the 1930s when Leon Trotsky advised his supporters in France to join the Socialist Party with the aim of winning new adherents. Ever since then democratic socialist parties have been targets for entryism.

In the 1950s British Trotskyists split over whether to infiltrate Labour, with Gerry Healy’s faction going in initially as a secretive group known simply as ‘The Club’ then more openly as the Socialist Labour League. It eventually won control of Labour’s youth section before the party’s National Executive Committee took action.

The forerunner of today’s Socialist Workers Party followed Healy’s supporters into Labour as the International Socialist but didn’t stick around long.

Then came Militant, the most successful so far, who by the 1970s had, like the Socialist Labour League before them, won control of the youth section. It went on to have thousands of ‘supporters’, three of whom were eventually elected as Labour MPs. Militant flourished because the left in the party was strong particularly on its National Executive, where people like Tony Benn resisted any attempts to take action against them. Eventually Labour acted but it was only after years of Militant operating openly and growing.

In the past five years history has repeated itself because under Corbyn entryism has been tolerated or even encouraged due to the correct assumption that the Trotskyists would support him in any internal battles with the party’s right wing.

Corbyn’s election thrilled the only remaining deep entryists, Socialist Action, who trace their origins back to Tariq Ali’s International Marxist Group. After running candidates against Labour in the 1979 General Election under the banner Socialist Unity the International Marxist Group changed its name and in 1982 came into Labour on the back of Tony Benn’s challenge for the party’s deputy leadership.

Tariq Ali’s individual application caused controversy at the time because the local party where he lived in North London (which included a young Jeremy Corbyn amongst its officers) issued him with a membership card against the instructions of party HQ. As the years went by the Socialist Action strategy bore some fruit with their strategy of building alliances with key Labour left figures culminated in some of their ‘supporters’ being appointed as advisors to Ken Livingstone during his tenure as Mayor of London.

Finally there is the Alliance For Workers Liberty who trace their roots back to a faction called Workers Fight which broke away from Militant in the 1960s. Alliance For Workers Liberty operated within Labour as Socialist Organiser in the 1980s until, like Militant, they were proscribed. In the 2010 General Election they stood a candidate against Harriet Harman in Peckham who obtained just 75 votes. In 2015 they resumed entryism and have been allowed to operate unhindered.

As a Liberal I have absolutely no problem with these groups existing but as committed revolutionaries should they be operating openly within a party that espouses parliamentary democracy? That is a question Labour’s leader needs to answer.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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50 Comments

  • Tony Greaves 16th Apr '20 - 7:33pm

    I think we have more important things to worry about than the Labour Party’s internal faction fighting. Sorry. But if that does worry us, the key thing now is not the sundry bands of Trots and the like but how Starmer and Momentum (with their substantial number of digital and real world activists) are going to relate to each other. If Starmer going to try to co-opt them or close them down?

  • Yousuf Farah 16th Apr '20 - 8:12pm

    True, these groups certainly are illiberal, but then socialism in general is illiberal, and it makes up the Labour party in many forms.

  • I don’t think we need spend too much time intruding on private grief in the Labour Party. They would probably say the same about us. However some of us are sad people with niche interests who have observed the socialist left factions over the decades almost as an exercise in social anthropology. I must admit that I found the International Socialists slightly more congenial than the SWP who succeeded them. The IS had a better sense of humour and the International tag counted for something. Meanwhile I had to admire the discipline and commitment of the old Socialist Labour League. With 160 members they could get 155 to Hyde Park on a Sunday morning. Seriously though my one question for Keir Starmer is will he campaign with others to change the Westminster voting system and give us a better chance of having alternatives to Conservative governments.

  • Jonathan Coulter 16th Apr '20 - 9:39pm

    I see a certain symbiosis between factional extremists on the one hand, and the soggy centre on the other, as if one cannot live without the other.

    The main problem I find with people of the hard left is that they reduce everything to a one-dimensional critique of capitalism. However, I give them credit for often being the first to make a row about major international injustices while politicians of the ‘respectable’ centre either run for cover or take refuge in the ‘special relationship’ with the United States. It was the leftists like Tariq Ali who led the big protests against the massive and pointless bloodletting of the Vietnam War. It was Jeremy Corbyn, Tariq Ali and friends who led the protests against the disastrous invasion of Iraq, and it is people of the Labour left who have been most vocal in opposing the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

    In order to resist pressure to unthinking conformity, it often requires people of an immoderate temperament. It is therefore no surprise that those opposing the Vietnam War included not only an array of hard left factions, but also a certain Enoch Powell. And it was a rather unusual Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, who caused his party to speak up against the invasion or Iraq. I think we need more of his spirit to prevent us being submerged in uninspiring centrist conformity.

  • Rodney Watts 16th Apr '20 - 10:53pm

    I have to agree with those who say the matter discussed here regarding the left wing of the Labour Party is not really of much concern, though Jonathan you make good points. The truth is Starmer has MASSIVELY more on his plate, since the leak of an 860 pp internal report on Anti-Semitism and factional mismanagement by Labour HQ in favour of the Right. Iain McNicoll stepped down from the Lords yesterday. Just Google STARMER REPORT

  • Rodney Watts 16th Apr '20 - 11:01pm

    I should have added that there are serious implications for current LibDem leadership as well as exposing the errors past leadership weaponisation of anti-Semitism.

  • At the moment the important question is what factions there are supporting the government party. We must remember the large amounts of money that was put into the leadership campaign in that party when the present leader was elected. I wonder what happened there. My worry is that there is a great deal of work being done by the same people at the moment on what happens after the present suspension of democracy In then country.
    I knew a number of members of the Militant Tendency when they were making headlines in the press. I suppose that my test was always whether the actual reactions of their supporters were any different to other similar people. The answer was no.
    There is a reality behind all of this. One of the factors in the changes in this country that have taken away so much of the progress made by the 1945 government is the decrease in numbers of working class members of parliament. Of course the class is not the dominant factor, but the class in the sense of the occupations of MPs and that of their parents is easy to check, and the actual reality of the complex family backgrounds that influenced their development is not.
    However we talk about the difficulties in opposition parties and ignore the situation in the government party.
    OK it is only responsible for 90% of present problems so I suppose spending 10% of the time talking about it is OK.

  • Richard Easter 17th Apr '20 - 5:44am

    We have Ayn Rand fanatics and Objectivists in government. The soft left now control Labour. And perhaps the hard left may not have got anywhere if the 1945 consensus hadn’t been ripped up and replaced with obsessions with free markets, privatisation, outsourcing, offshoring jobs and deregulation.

    It seems to me that there is more of a fear of nationalised rail than privatised justice amongst many in the political class.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Apr '20 - 7:42am

    Yes, the far-Left opposed the Iraq War, but they oppose any and all Western miitary intervention, even that which is justified and legal, e.g. Kosovo. So they were right about Iraq only in the sense that a stopped clock is ever right.
    As for Israel-Palestine, any liberal should be absolutely opposed to many of the actions of the Israeli government, particularly in the Occupied Territories. The far-Left may be half-right on this, but that does not explain or excuse the tendency among far Leftists to cosy up to pro-Palestinian extremist groups such as Hamas, who certainly do not speak for all Palestinians in the region. It is a manifestation of the far-Left tendency to support any “anti-Western” grouping, and stay silent about the excesses of such groups. Remember in the 1970s ad 1980s when they made a lot of noise about Apartheid, but disappeared whenever Soviet oppression was under scrutiny. More recently, Jeremy Corbyn was known not long before becoming Labour leader for his paid appearances on Press TV, the Iranian state channel, which was banned from the UK after uncritically airing the torture of a dissident. Corbyn was also slow to condemn the homophobic persecutions in Chechnya in 2017. Compare this with Tim Farron, our leader at the time, who whatever his own conflict about gay issues may have been, condemned those atrocities immediately.

  • Why is it that LDV contributors are so obsessed with Labour? Umpteen threads about Labour; almost none about the Tories (ignoring those about the pandemic)..

    Why bother reading the Mail/Sun/Express when so many on here are hell bent on finding ‘a mote in Starmer’s eye’; far better to worry about the ‘beam’ in this party’s leadership!

  • Whilst it is amusing to read of the Life of Brian-esque fisipariousness of Labout factionalism, there is a serious underlying point here.

    That is that the Labour Party is, and always has been, an unholy alliance between democratic and revolutionary socialists – and it shows.

    It is also why a question the judgement of the many contributors to these pages who seem obsessed about having a “closer relationship” with this authoritarian threat to our democracy.

  • expats:
    There’s much comment on Keir Starmer at the moment because he’s the new leader of the Labour Party.
    There’s the sheer novelty factor.
    His clear triumph also has massive implications for the nature and effectiveness of the opposition’s role of “holding the government to account”.
    And for potential electoral reform, and the prospects for Lib Dem politicians (at all levels from parish upward) working constructively with Labour politicians.
    And there’s a grisly fascination with the efforts by the hard left to reassert its authority and continue its factional battles within Labour despite having lost the leadership and (partial) National Executive elections.
    And finally there’s a very interesting question over the extent to which the leaked report on antisemitism was a serious effort at analysis, and to what extent it was an exercise in factional point-scoring.

  • Richard Easter 17th Apr '20 - 10:15am

    Alex Macfie: One of the best things about this party is that unlike people on the left or right, it generally condemns all dictators and awful governments.

    CUK / TIG seemed to be pushing the pro Saudi line – so I wondered just how moderate it really was. Mike Gapes in particular uses the same justifications many on the left do for Iran, for the Saudis.

    The Lib Dems should be careful they don’t end up being a vessel for this sort of “realpolitik”. Castro, Maduro, Bolsonaro, Assad, Bin Salman, Khamenei, Erdogan and many others are no friends of moderate social democracy.

  • Jonathan Coulter 17th Apr '20 - 10:19am

    @Alex Macfie, I agree that far-left supporters tend to go soft where the interests of anti-western regimes are at stake, Venezuela being a case in point. But please ask yourself who, in their absence, would effectively campaign against western abuse – abuse that is often accompanied by massive PR and misinformation through the media? Others have of course protested about Vietnam, Apartheid South Africa, Iraq etc., but how much traction would they have gained without the left-wing support?

    Re your point on Hamas, please ask yourself a couple of questions. Have we any more reason to cosy up to the Government of Israel, which has broken umpteen UN resolutions, ethnically cleansed large swathes of indigenous population, provided ‘security support’ to all sorts of repressive regime (including Myanmar) and is trying to push the West towards unwanted conflict with Iran? And if the British Government was prepared to negotiate with the IRA, is it not reasonable to talk to Hamas?

  • Toby Keynes 17th Apr ’20 – 10:06am……….expats: There’s much comment on Keir Starmer at the moment because he’s the new leader of the Labour Party………

    But it’s not just Starmer this obsession (and I use the term again) has been going on through Corbyn, Milliband, etc.

    May I suggest that this party looks at it’s own history: letting Thatcher into No.10, enthusiastically supporting the Tory right wing policies 2010-15, etc. The fact that in both caes you damaged this party seems to matter little compared to point scoring over Labour.
    Again, what is it with you people and Labour?

  • Simon Hebditch 17th Apr '20 - 10:37am

    I support most of what Jonathan Coulter has discussed. However, we will at some point have to debate our approach to future alliances. My own view is that we should work out who we could co-operate with sooner rather than later on a range of potential political programmes. The case for electoral reform, as part of a package of constitutional reforms, is incontrovertible. But to achieve a democratic result means we will have to win the support of Labour.

  • Chris Bertram 17th Apr '20 - 10:40am

    @Jonathan Coulter: There is a Palestinian Authority who we should be prioritising for dialogue with, a body studiously ignored by Jeremy Corbyn. Unlike Hamas, they don’t propose the utter destruction of Israel as the ultimate solution to the problems of the region, and don’t promote hard-line religious government within their territory to the detriment of dissenters (try being gay in Gaza, and see how long it takes for you to reach the ground from the high building that they choose to throw you from). Hamas will have to be dealt with as part of the I/P resolution, but not in the way that the hard left envisage.

  • Peter Martin 17th Apr '20 - 10:44am

    @ Toby Keynes,

    “And finally there’s a very interesting question over the extent to which the leaked report on antisemitism was a serious effort at analysis, and to what extent it was an exercise in factional point-scoring.”

    The damaging part of the report is in the direct quotes from text messages and emails. These confirm what many of us knew all along. That the right wing of the party was working against a Labour victory in both the 2017 and 2019 elections and used some foul racist and sexist language in the process.

    You can call this ‘factional point scoring’ if you like but when there are factions, which are essentially parties within parties, they have to be identified and expelled when party rules have been seriously breached. Everyone is allowed their say but the deliberate sabotage of election campaigns is going much too far. There shouldn’t be one rule for anti Labour entryists of the left and another for those of the right.

  • Jenny Barnes 17th Apr '20 - 11:55am

    Hamas
    “They’ve got to be protected
    All their rights respected
    Till somebody we like can be elected”
    Tom Lehrer

  • Mark Porciani 17th Apr '20 - 1:20pm

    This utterly bizarre. We’re in the middle of Global Health crisis and Liberals want to take us back to the 1980s at best. Possiblly the 1950s and McCarthite witch-hunts of the left. Of course no mention of the 851 page report that was leaked. Proving the real routes of racism inside the Labour Party wasn’t the left of the Party, but the Labour Right. Further to this failures to deal with Anti-Semitism was historic and relate to the tenure of now disgraced Lord McNicol as Gen Sec.

  • Richard Easter 17th Apr '20 - 1:28pm

    Peter Martin – I’ve not spent a lot of time looking at stuff to do with that report, but from what little I know – some of the abuse directed at Abbott would surely be gross misconduct at the very very least. And it concerns me greatly that these same people viewed Andy Burnham as far left too, and considered limited renationalisation and corporation tax increases as “Trotskyite”.

  • Chris Bertram 17th Apr '20 - 1:33pm

    @Jenny Barnes: Hamas certainly don’t have to be lionised in the way that J Corbyn and his sycophants have done for quite some years. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they are an organisation that any self-respecting socialist should be running a mile from, very quickly.

  • @Simon Hebditch the golden rule of electoral reform is that Labour support it when in opposition, then ditch it when in government. How many decades of iterations of this does it take for people to learn this lesson?

    @expats “what is it with you people and Labour?”

    This seems to indicate you are a Labour supporter. What is it that makes you hang around on a Lib Dem discussion forum?

  • Paul Barker 17th Apr '20 - 3:52pm

    As an ex-member of The AWL/Workers Fight (I think I raised the membership by at least 10% when I joined) any mention of them brings a warm glow of nausea but even I wonder about the point of this piece. Is this any of Our business ?

    Having seen The “Revolution” up close then I agree that there are some very unpleasant types in their, mixed with some oddly nice people too. If they were serious about their beliefs they would be very dangerous, but they arent. The whole Labour Left are just a giant Role-Playing Game.

    Much more serious is the real growth of Anti-Semitism in Labour, there was a depressing survey a few Months back in which three-quarters of members asked agreed that claims of prejudice in Labour were being exagerated. For Britains largest Party that is a real worry.

  • Jonathan Coulter 17th Apr '20 - 5:15pm

    @Chris Bertram, I think you need some homework. You tell us that Jeremy Corbyn has shunned the Palestinian Authority (currently run by Fatah) in favour of Hamas, but this in untrue, notwithstanding the fact that Hamas was the last party to be elected to lead the Palestinian Authority (in 2006). Just like many Lib Dems, Corbyn supports peace with justice in Palestine, and is not in the pocket of any Palestinian party or faction.

    @Paul Barker, on what grounds do you invalidate the survey to which you refer? Have you noticed that hundreds of Jewish members (particularly those belonging to Jewish Voice for Labour) who agree that claims of prejudice in Labour have been exaggerated?

    @expats, I agree we Lib Dems need to look at our own history and get our house in order. However, as @Simon Hebditch shows, whether we like it or not, we may need to work with the Labour Party to topple the Tories and achieve our own objectives. This discussion is useful because it can help us think about the opportunities for such collaboration. Re the discussion above, I think we should be cautious of generalisations and try to better understand what drives Labour people in the present (as opposed to the 1950s or 1980s), with a view to identifying issues on which we can make common cause – and those on which we cannot compromise. If we take the trouble to talk to them we may find we have more in common with some than we thought; for example I find quite a few left-wingers are in fact REMAINERS.

  • Chris Bertram 17th Apr '20 - 5:31pm

    @Jonathan Coulter: If Corbyn supports peace with justice, then he won’t get it from Hamas, unless he accepts their hardline islamic definition of “justice”. As I said earlier, it’s an organisation that any decent socialist – and any liberal, for that matter – should be distancing themselves from very markedly. But perhaps Corbyn isn’t actually a “decent” socialist.

  • I started with an open mind about Starmer. I think he is wrong to demand publication now of an exit strategy when retaining maximum lockdown is paramount in view of the massive daily death count.

    He is politicising the situation by cynically claiming that ministers cannot make a decision without the PM.

    I have read that his cabinet is composed entirely of Remainers even though winning back Brexit voting former Labour supporters is key to the recovery of the party.

    I therefore have doubts about the man’s judgement. There are people here who seem to admire the Labour Party under his leadership. I would suggest that it is early days and this party has more pressing matters to worry about than flirtations with Starmer and his assorted baggage.

  • The obsession with Labour is strange. The Lib Dems should make sure a few Neo Libs don’t come along and take their party over as was the case with Clegg Laws Alexander etc rather than far Left Trots ambushing Labour.

  • TCO 17th Apr ’20 – 3:[email protected] “what is it with you people and Labour?”….
    This seems to indicate you are a Labour supporter. What is it that makes you hang around on a Lib Dem discussion forum?………….

    Not at all. I have been a Lib(dem) leftie since 1961 (although I voted Labour in 1997)..

    Mind you, having read your right wing tirades, I might ask you the same question..

  • Rodney Watts 17th Apr '20 - 10:15pm

    @David Warren: I don’t suppose you expected the discussion to proceed in the way it has, but I would not be disappointed! Whilst I first brought the important leaked internal Labour report on Anti-Semitism AS) up on another thread a few days ago, it is only here that it is becoming more widely discussed.
    @ Jonathan Coulter has made comments and riposts that I fully endorse and
    @expats, Simon Hebditch, Peter Martin, Richard Easter and Mark Porciani, thank you for contributing.
    @ Tom Harney. Thank you for reminding us to keep an eye on monied factions in the Tory Party
    @ Jenny Barnes unlike @ Chris Bertram I appreciate your little piece from a fellow Jewish musician and some of whose songs I enjoyed performing in student days. Actually you have underlined the fact that, as Jonathan has pointed out, Hamas is the only elected Palestinian government. Also, and this might really get up the nose of Chris, under international law Hamas has every right to use weapons against the IDF and Israel. There were supposed to be elections in 2009, and we are still waiting. As a supporter of Gush Shalom (Peace Block) and allied NGO’s in Israel It saddens me that successive Israeli governments have literally got away with murder.

    Back here it grieves me that LibDem leadership has mistakenly attacked Labour’s ALLEGED increase in AS in spite of info. to the contrary. This has not helped one bit those liberals fighting for equality, justice and human rights in Israel. That is one reason why I have not renewed membership in the meantime.

  • Miranda Pinch 18th Apr '20 - 8:36am

    Chris Bertram. At risk of repeating some comments, I fail to understand the mantra of Hamas as villain. I am not sure why Hamas has even been mentioned here, but as it has, there are important facts thatshould be considered. You and I may not like Hamas, but it was a product of Israeli policies and not the cause. You may not like the rhetoric coming from them, but have you paid any attention to the rhetoric coming from members of the Israeli government? Hamas is not occupying Israeli land, nor is it imprisoning 2 million people, 70% of them refugees from Israel and 50% of them children. Hamas was elected democratically, but those who encouraged their creation did not expect them to win. They now probably make life even worse for those in Gaza, but Israel never left Gaza. Even the UK Government is clear that Gaza is still occupied.  Israel controls the air, the sea, the borders, the imports and exports, enters Gaza at will, assassinates people, sprays herbicides on the crops near the Israeli imposed border and buffer zone, shoots at fishermen, kills many innocent men, women and children as collateral damage and as collective punishment,  and has destroyed most of Gazan infrastructure. The place is almost uninhabitable, but the Palestinians living there are imprisoned by Israel and its ally, Egypt, not by Hamas. Hamas is NOT the problem, it is simply the product of the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian population which denies them every human right and international law.  The rockets are also a consequence, not a cause. Was the UK government wrong to talk to the IRA?  Has not the Conservative government shared platforms with dictators and murderers over the years?. Is it Ok to sit with the Saudi regime, but not with Hamas?  It is what I understood the LibDems to stand for – for International Law, Human Rights, equality and social justice. As long as we allow Israel impunityand try to pin the blame for everything on Hamas, we are turning a blind eye to it all and we open the way for the failure of international justice and human rights everywhere.

  • Peter Martin 18th Apr '20 - 8:40am

    “The Labour Party…….an unholy alliance between democratic and revolutionary socialists”

    Anyone who isn’t committed to democracy doesn’t last long in the Labour Party. They’ll go off to join the Worker’s Revolutionary Party of if they can find someone else of like mind they’ll set up their own party. Just pick a few words out of Workers, Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Tendency etc and voila! They’ll have their new party name.

    The last time I checked the Labour Party had around 600,000 members. Naturally there is a fair spread of opinion. A fair number of them aren’t at all socialist and would be better off in the Lib Dems. IMO. I’d say they would outnumber the genuine Trotskyites by at least 20 to 1! There are many more potential recruits for you guys than there are for the SWP.

    Factionalism can be a problem in the Labour Party. However the left and right factions have the same failings when it comes down to the exercise of democracy. I sometimes think they hate each other more than the Tories and they’ll do whatever it takes to put one over on the other side!

  • David Warren 18th Apr '20 - 10:17am

    This thread has certainly taken off and it would be impossible to respond to every comment.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to the Labour Party once Starmer gets his feet under the table. His shadow cabinet appointments caused anger amongst some on the left and calls for the creation of a breakaway socialist party.

    Of course if we get cooperation with Labour on electoral reform and it actually happens then we will almost certainly see the establishment of new parties. In these change circumstances the Trotskyist groups would likely operate independently as their counterparts due in other countries.

  • It’s mentioned that Hamas is elected. Very well, but then so is the Israeli government. This is not to defend the Netanyahu regime, which I have absolutely no truck with, but simply to note that being “elected” cuts both ways. Channelling David Lammy, I don’t care how elected they are, both Hamas and Netanyahu’s coalition are fascists who don’t care about peace. My attitude to the I/P conflict is thus one of contemptuous neutrality. The fact that the people in that region are voting for such extremists suggests they don’t actually want peace, and perhaps don’t deserve it.

  • @expats “Not at all. I have been a Lib(dem) leftie since 1961 (although I voted Labour in 1997)..”

    Then why not refer to “us”, rather than “you people”?

    “Mind you, having read your right wing tirades, I might ask you the same question..”

    Please cite any “right wing tirades” I’ve made. Quotes.

    @Peter Martin “Anyone who isn’t committed to democracy doesn’t last long in the Labour Party.”

    Corbyn and McDonnell* have been around for 50 years or so. Recently someone, possibly further up this thread, provided a comprehensive history of the successful entryists since Labour’s formation.

    * – McDonnell has openly declared himself a Marxist. “According to orthodox Marxist theory, the overthrow of capitalism by a socialist revolution in contemporary society is inevitable. “

  • @David Warren “Of course if we get cooperation with Labour on electoral reform and it actually happens then we will almost certainly see the establishment of new parties. ”

    The iron rule of Labour and Electoral Reform: Labour is only interested in electoral reform when out of power and never interested when in power.

    We won’t get co-operation with Labour on electoral reform, and it won’t actually happen.

  • I would regard Hamas as much worse than the IRA (which has never done suicide bombs, and has also never advocated executing homosexuals). Likewise, the Netanyahu regime is much worse than the Unionists and Loyalists (correct me if I’m wrong, but no DUP or similar spokesperson has ever advocated invading the Republic of Ireland and kicking out the local Catholic population to build Protestand settlements). So comparisons between I/P and Northern Ireland don’t really work. The peace process in Northern Ireland originated from agreements between the groups on either side that opposed violence. The Men of Violence only joined the process after renouncing violence. The “talks” with them by the UK government were specifically to move them away from the bullet and to the ballot box. There was no place for them on the main negotiating table until they did that.
    Israel/Palestine is different in that the Men of Violence are in full power on both sides, both with the principal aim of eliminating the other. “Hamas … was a product of Israeli policies and not the cause,” well actually probably both; there is always a symbiosis between extremists on both sides in a conflict, and the only way to get peace is to disarm them. So the only way that peace is ever going to happen in I/P is for the extremists to be marginalised, which means people voting for moderates who oppose violence. Supporting extremists on either side is totally self-defeating unless you actually support their agenda.

  • Miranda Pinch 18th Apr '20 - 11:24am

    Alex Macfie. While I totally agree that being elected is not the important issue, the fact remains that, however ghastly both regimes may be, that Hamas is not occupying the territory of others and was a product of occupation and oppression, not the cause of it. That is what is important. It is hardly a conflict between equals on any level whatsoever. Take away the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, give them the same rights of self-dermination, autonomy and security that is given to Israelis, even on their own land, then neutrality is a reasonable position to take, as long as it really is neutrality and not the funding of one side at the expense of the other.

  • Chris Bertram 18th Apr '20 - 2:39pm

    Miranda Pinch: “Hamas is not occupying the territory of others …” No, but it covets the land between the Jordan and the sea, and proposes the utter destruction of Israel and the extermination or subjugation of the jewish people. This is as per its charter which draws greatly upon islamic scripture. It’s not an encouraging read for anyone seriously interested in peace. That Hamas does not at present possess the means to bring its plans to fruition does not mean that they are not serious in their cause. Netanyahu often bleats about there being no “partner for peace”. He’s wrong, the Palestinian Authority is ready to talk at any time, providing the Israeli government has something to offer them. But he has a point about Hamas.

  • Miranda Pinch 18th Apr '20 - 3:03pm

    Chris Bertram. No. The Hamas Charter was changed in 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/01/hamas-new-charter-palestine-israel-1967-borders
    But regardless of that, whatever you think about Israel, its creation has swallowed most of what was once Palestine and is busily taking even more. Context is everything. Earlier I asked if people had taken on board the rhetoric coming from the mouths of members of the Israeli government, which is at least as genocidal as anything coming from Hamas? Is that acceptable? People whose land has been stolen and whose people are oppressed tend to react in extreme ways. It is of note that despite the absence of Hamas in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, those living there are also oppressed and their land occupied by Israel. If the PA really was the answer, then explain why Israel continues with its policies in those occupied terrotories that deny Palestinians living there every human right and International Law. Based on what you say, it should only be those living in Gaza that are so badly treated; that is if you believe such collective punishement of refugees and children is ever acceptable.

  • Jonathan Coulter 18th Apr '20 - 3:38pm

    This interesting thread has thrown up a range of insights into the Labour Party and our possible relationship with it. Above all, it shows how online platforms like LDV can provide a forum for evidence-based discussion. This was evident when Miranda Pinch answered Chris Bertram, who had made repeated unsubstantiated claims about the relationship between Jeremy Corbyn and Hamas. Miranda demolished his line of argument providing abundant evidence about the context, and showing that Israel and others were using ‘Hamas’, a relatively powerless player, as a bogeyman with which to divert attention from failures of international justice and human rights. Let’s build on Miranda’s example and ensure that our arguments on discussion platforms are grounded in evidence.

  • Rodney Watts 18th Apr '20 - 6:06pm

    Well said Miranda and here! here! Jonathan. Miranda, I know we both have Jewish heredity and you are the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor whilst I am the grandson of a British born lady who was murdered, ironically, by a criminal non Jew who sometimes used a Jewish alias. However we both share the same passion and love for our fellow humans. Like Jonathan we also value evidence based opinions.

    To add just a little to Miranda’s point about the creation of Israel; this is described in great detail in Israeli historian Prof. Illan Pappe’s definitive book “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”. I had an honorary uncle who finished his wartime service in Palestine and what he witnessed left a nasty scar, though he kindly differentiated between ‘good Jews and bad’ It therefore makes me angry that the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) that represents only about 30% of British Jewry, has actively promoted the gross exageration of AS in the Labour Party and has also promoted similar in LibDems. Of course the BoD are also promotors of the IHRA definition of AS, with really the aim of trying to defend Israel.

    @ Alex Macfie:”I would regard Hamas as much worse than the IRA (which has never done suicide bombs, and has also never advocated executing homosexuals).” True no suicide bombs, but just ask people who experienced the bombs, knee capping etc what it was like. I was just a couple of miles from the Mulberry Bush, Birmingham when the bomb went off, as was a friend who fortunately missed going there due to illness.
    regarding homosexuals read: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/people/sfs-gay-marriage-backing-contrast-past-intolerance-homosexuality-1390504 Also worth reading for numbers of civilian and military casualties:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/17/world/ira-apologizes-for-civilian-deaths-in-its-30-year-campaign.html
    A last reference from an online Israeli mag.: https://www.972mag.com/what-northern-ireland-can-teach-us-about-israel-palestine/

  • Rodney Watts 19th Apr '20 - 3:19pm

    As an addendum to above comment. FATALITIES 01-01-2008 to 01-04-2020
    Palestinians 5,575
    Israelis 238
    https://www.ochaopt.org/data/casualties

  • Peter Martin 20th Apr '20 - 3:12pm

    @ TCO,

    I don’t think he meant to exclude Ireland, Scotland and Wales !

    “… we do not deny that there are countries like England and America… where labour may attain its goal by peaceful means.”

    Marx, 18 September 1872, at the Hague Congress of the International, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1872/09/08.htm, K. Marx and F. Engels, On Britain, Foreign Languages Press, Moscow, 1962

  • Alex Macfie 21st Apr '20 - 8:29am

    I’m not interested in keeping score between Israel and Palestine as far as atrocities and fatalities are concerned. I’m only saying that as things stand neither side wants peace. Probably the only way to get a “solution” right now would be for it to be imposed on both sides. Good luck with that! As the extremists (who are in control) on both sides are principally interested in power, not peace, they would almost certainly collude to scupper it.
    Genuine power sharing only works if both sides are interested in it. Sinn Fein and the DUP had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating table. And the present power sharing arrangement in Stormont (when it’s running) it not totally satisfactory. It’s really a kind of sectarian cartel between the more extreme versions of the respective sectarian ideologies, marginalising moderate voices. It’s similar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the peace settlement directly institutionalises sectarianism: anyone who does not with to identify as an “ethnically pure” Serb, Croat or Bosniak is essentially a second-class citizen. And an arrangement where “Jerusalem had an Israeli mayor from the Likud party, and a Palestinian deputy mayor from Fatah”. In that sort of peace settlement there is no room for moderate non-sectarian views, which are essential for lasting peace. So a Liberal approach to Israel/Palestine would be to encourage and promote moderate parties on both sides, and not give any truck to the extremists.

  • David Warren 21st Apr '20 - 11:41am

    Excellent comments @AlexMacfie

    The only viable solution is one that brings both sides together in a similar way to that used in the Northern Ireland peace process.

    I think we are going to need a different occupant in the White House to have any chance of that getting started.

  • John Littler 23rd Apr '20 - 11:42am

    I saw some of the Trot picture going on in the 80’s and early 90’s, as a Union Rep in what was the CPSA Civil Service Union ( Now PCS ) within what was the DTI ( now Business Department). The union had more trots active in it than any other union, enabling them to win the leadership as the “Broad Left” from the Moderate group from time to time. I believe activists were deliberately taking Civil Service jobs to become active in the union.

    My DTI London branch and alongside the other main union NUCPS, that eventually merged had a little LibDem faction who supported the moderates. It included Frank Pemberton who had come over with the SDP and was Simon Hughes’s Election Agent in Southwark & Bermondsey. He went back to Labour after Blair became leader and wouldn’t speak to us after that. Frank was an incredible campaigner and if he had stayed, perhaps Simon’s career as MP would have lasted longer?

    The trots ( Militant and the smaller SWP – Socialist Workers Party ) in the union were a menace who rarely achieved anything much either at Branch, Department or National level, but what stands out now was that the name Corbyn was consistently on their lips. He fronted and guested at their events over and over again. I saw him speak in a couple of London parks. It was nowhere near my views.

    Militant was like an evangelist religious cult. They took 20%+ of your earnings and had people selling papers in the street at weekends. The rallies were Orwellian high tech affairs using lasers, holograms and intense propaganda. The activists usually burnt out eventually and there was a great deal of sexual predation on the younger members, which I heard also used to happen in some of the other big unions by the very top brass.

    But the idea Corbyn would ever become Labour leader and fight two G.E’s was something that no activist or constituent of his would ever have believed. These are strange times.

  • David Warren 1st May '20 - 7:27pm

    I too remember the 1980s when the annual CPSA national elections resulted in the moderates and broad left battling for power.

    The Trotskyists are now in complete control although they are split into three different factions. In the most recent General Secretary election Mark Serwokta the incumbent who is a former supporter of Socialist Organiser faced a challenge from a Socialist Party (Militant) member and a supporter of the Alliance For Workers Liberty.

    The old moderate faction is nowhere to be seen.

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