Antisemitism and the left

One of the things about now living in Scotland that looking in on what happens politically in England  makes the utter insanity of Scottish politics seem sane and sensible, well, as sane as politics can be in this world dominated by Brexit and the aftermath of that. In this case the Jeremy Corbyn antisemitism row is one I look upon with interest as it seems most everyone involved in this are at some level, an arsehole.

It’s clear that some of those attacking Corbyn are doing so not because they’re fighting antisemitism, but they’re doing so to land lumps upon Corbyn. This of course isn’t true for all of Corbyn’s accusers as a number of people have very clear concerns with how Labour’s failed to deal with an issue that shouldn’t arise in a supposed party of the people like Labour. However as those of us in Scotland know, Labour are peachy with the like of Hugh Gaffney in their party and although it’s fair to say all parties have eye-popping racists and bigots in them, it is how they deal with them that’s the mark of a party. I can see that if I were Jewish that a party I’d normally consider safe refuge seems to be not treating bigotry aimed at my people as seriously as they should.

But the problem is that instead of an informed debate about antisemitism we now have a polarised shouting session where the decreasing voices of sanity are being drowned out by folk on all sides of this debate.

Do Labour, and the left as a whole, have an issue with antisemitism? Yes. This Guardian article provides some context for Labour, but parts of the left need to address this head on and no, that doesn’t mean turning the subject to Israel or mentioning Zionism. The comedian David Schneider make a wee test for those of us on the left and I think he’s nailed it.

I’ve been at Stop the War meetings not long after the second Iraq War where Tony Benn would agonisingly spell things out for people along similar lines to Schneider and when the floor was thrown open to questions, it would be guaranteed one of the first would be mindbogglingly antisemitic. At one in London around 2003 myself and my then partner (who was Jewish) left raging after folk ignored Benn’s message which meant she left before getting into a fight, and in Bristol a few years later myself and a mate left because we couldn’t be arsed arguing with people about ‘THE JEWS’ with spittle-flecked anger.

A section of people on the left have a blind spot for Jews. Do I think Corbyn antisemitic? No, he’s trying to protect his party and in doing so he’s fucked up because he’s never confronted the problem head on as it’d mean tackling allies, just as Gaffney isn’t tackled as it means he loses an ally here. It isn’t all Corbyn’s fault as no Labour leader in my lifetime had truly tackled the issue head-on but the issue sits within Labour and needs sorted. The left as a whole has the same issue and this leaves a massive open goal the Tories are only too glad to take advantage of. Of course the Tories have issues with every sort of bigotry going but the difference between us on the left and them is we’re supposed to care about people as people rather than find ways to get round this. Basically, we’re supposed to be better but I think some folk just have a blind spot which is why they need called out if they can’t be educated as Tony Benn used to try to do.

We have the worst government in a succession of awful governments which has wallowed in lies and corruption. A Prime Minister in Theresa May unfit for the job leading us to a Brexit nobody with sanity and compassion backs and yet the official Westminster opposition can’t break a lead because they can’t keep their own house in order. It’s a sad, pitiful and hopeless situation but if the left learns something from this then at least it may just have been worth it.

It won’t of course.

Advertisements

Having their Corbyn cake and eating it

Watching Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conference speech today was something of a weird experience. Yeah,I liked some of what he said but the whole thing felt, well, wrong. After all the Tories are still in power and Corbyn’s Labour Party supports Brexit at all costs. It seemed odd to see supposed ‘socialists’ celebrate when the Tories still enact their cruelty and a forthcoming Brexit that’ll wreck lives.

Then it dawned on me that Corbynism is about nostalgia, which brings me to this splendid Wee Ginger Dug article that shows it wasn’t just myself thinking this.

I’ll follow this up with my own thoughts another time but this should be essential reading.

Wee Ginger Dug

It’s getting insane now. Even those of us who specialise in hyperbole are running out of hyperbolic adjectives and similes to describe just how divorced from the real world British politics and the British state have become.

I’ve given up watching the Labour party conference. It seemed to be being beamed to us directly from an alternate universe in which Labour won the general election and Jeremy Corbyn single-handed cured cancer. It’s a world in which delegates are gushing over the transformative powers of a socialism that Labour has rediscovered after years of treating it like an embarrassing old relative who had been packed off to a retirement home and never visited, but they’re studiously avoiding the fact that the retirement home is about to be bulldozed. It’s a world in which Jeremy Corbyn is treated with the reverence usually reserved for the other JC, but everyone denies it’s a…

View original post 1,069 more words

The trouble with Corbyn

I’ve voiced concerns about Jeremy Corbyn a lot of late, especially since seeing him at the Pyramid Stage at this year’s Glastonbury Festival where I saw a crowd cheering on someone who I think is setting people up for an almighty fall. I’ve never been able to fully pin down just quite what the problem with Corbyn is outwith of the fact he’s not what he pretends to be and Labour are still a party mired in policies of austerity and a faux radicalism that just tweaks round the edges while keeping the establishment machine in place.

Alan Bissett manages to articulate everything I couldn’t in this video from the excellent Phantom Power. It’s an excellent, and damning, critique of Labour and especially Jeremy Corbyn in relation to Scotland and is essential viewing.

Brexit is an act of self-harm imposed on us by arseholes

A Yougov poll released today is quite simply proof that people have lost their tiny little minds.

So imagine you’re a 20-something in a tenuous employment situation and you come home and tell mum and dad your job has been moved to say, Frankfurt, because of Brexit. Your folks will turn round and tell your that it’s worth it which is by any stretch of the imagination, fucking insane yet we’re at the ”we’ve got to do this and fuck the young‘ phase of something that’s going to hurt bad, and worse, with free movement of EU citizens ending soon we’re going to lose hundreds of thousands of skilled workers which for some is a good thing as they’ve ‘flooded’ the market in the UK ‘wholesale’.

You may think that rhetoric from the Tories and UKIP (and you’d be totally right) but this is increasingly what we’re hearing from Labour who’ve given up on any sort of solidarity with workers regardless of birthplace and now seem to be moving into an extremism worthy of the SWP as  as phrases like ‘scab labour’ is used to define immigrant workers in articles posted, and then quickly deleted from Labour sites.as Labour firmly set foot in the fantasy that is Brexit with the idea that Corbyn can pick and choose what he wants (just likes May and Farage say) and (just like May and Farage have been told) that such things as having the benefits of the single market without accepting the four freedoms is impossible, but hey, here’s a Guardian article pushing that bullshit for the faithful. And oh the Labour and Tory position puts the Northern Irish peace process at risk but hey, we’re in a world now where excruciating damage is a good thing…

With things falling apart and the Scottish Independence movement tearing itself apart as to who can look the most cool and ideologically pure in that annoyingly middle class way certain Glasgow University students like to posture, it seems that a front against the lunacy of Brexit within the UK is currently invisible.

So I look to the Irish who with simple clarity have made it clear they want none of the UK’s infectious rage-fuleled idiocy and where they stand. If I were you I’d scour the family tree and see if you can grab yourself an Irish passport because we’re on a sinking ship being cheered on by people who think the economic and social equivalent of cutting your legs off is a good thing.

The myth of Labour’s radicalism

There’s been a load of discussion in Scotland about commentator and pro-independence left wing activist Cat Boyd’s comments about why she ”voted for Corbyn” due to his socialist credentials and how she preferred him to May.

The problem is that Corbyn doesn’t present a ‘big political change’. Corbyn presents a tweak to the existing system, and with Brexit, backs a policy which will ensure the weakest in society pays for it. I agree with Boyd (who I normally find to be at least an interesting commentator) in that Corbyn is preferable to May, but I disagree with the rest of her reasoning, and I do think she’s provided the establishment she rails against with a useful example to harm the independence movement.

But this is a problem with those who support left wing ideologically pure politics. They’ll see Labour being ‘radical’ but in fact, the ideas Corbyn presented are perfectly reasonable socially democratic ideas. The problem is that as someone who has worked within the system for several decades, Corbyn isn’t proposing changing the system except with Brexit where he, and the Tories, advocate leaving under a cloud (Labour’s vaunted internationalism clearly doesn’t extend to EU citizens) to rewrite the UK in their image. We now have a situation where the Corbyn supporting left now speak like Brexiters they sneered at prior to April, and we’re being dragged off the edge of a cliff for what? The chance that we might, perhaps, possibly, maybe see Corbyn in power and for Scotland to get maybe control of something Labour have spent years fighting to deny Scotland control of?

The fact is the system is broken. The British state is a state with blood on its hands and we’ll never know how much because the state ensures it always covers it’s tracks be it Operation Legacy, or a compliant UK media that paints the British state as an always benevolent one. And here’s another point, were Corbyn truly radical he’d be pushing to tear all this down but instead we’re promised another ‘discussion’ as frankly, all Labour want is your vote and to have the idea of radicalism as it manages your expectations from being of the left, to now supporting ideas that are making the wealthy cream themselves because Brexit will involve swingeing cuts be it May or Corbyn in power. True, it’ll be less painful under Corbyn only if you consider Labour figures and people like Owen Jones putting on their sad faces when they’re talking of job losses and families broken up, but hey, for the many right? We’ve got your vote sucker!

And here’s my problem with anyone wanting independence voting Labour. You’re supporting all this. I agree Corbyn is the lesser worse option for the UK, but you’re still voting for a party that’s spent nearly four years comparing you to Nazis, calling you a virus, filth and worse who only want your vote. They won’t give a fuck about you and we know that Labour are there to keep Scotland in check because that’s their job. How can you reconcile your position as of the ‘radical left’ by voting for a party that fights to keep the systems you’ve been fighting to break??

It’s illogical and while the SNP and Greens aren’t also as radical as they seem, both support ending the British state, which is as radical a policy as you’ll get in the UK in 2017. So if you want to go back to the days of Labour forming a government once a generation, promising jam aplenty, before the Tories come back in then great. Vote Labour. You’ll never, ever get independence and you’ll doom the most vulnerable to perjury when Brexit kicks in hard and any escape route is closed off.I’m all for sticking to principles but having seen fellow left wingers adopt messiah’s so often, I’m used to seeing crushing disappointment when people realise they’ve been had. I’m just now at the point where both personally for myself, and for those generations coming after me and yet to be born that I can’t live with the idea that we were denied self-determination and the end of the British state because of people being attracted by shiny things and rhetoric.

We do need a more inclusive vision for independence that brings people in from all political opinions but voting Labour isn’t going to achieve that. All you’ll do is empower a party that at the core only wants power for power’s sake. That won’t help the working class will it?

The covuluted position of Owen Jones and the English left in regards Brexit

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken again on Brexit and although he’s talking bollocks in regards the EU changing it’s line on freedom of movement, he’s right when he says that Labour’s somewhat pro-Brexit line under Jeremy Corbyn could well come back and bite it hard. Up pops Owen Jones to Tweet this…

Now Corbyn’s position is a ”jobs first Brexit” and we can get ‘the same access to the Single Market” we get now. This is bullshit. Corbyn knows this is bullshit because we can see the EU’s red lines and realise very quickly the idea the UK can pick and choose what it wants. I recommend this excellent piece from Byline to see exactly the state of play and once you digest it realise that Corbyn’s position on Brexit is as shaky as Farage, Johnson and Theresa May because the EU have made this point clear:

Cherry-picking of the Single Market and a sector-by-sector participation in the Single Market has been excluded by the European Council guidelines. The Union has also stressed that its four freedoms (people, goods, services and capital) will remain indivisible.

No ‘jobs first Brexit’ is coming. We can’t get what we want regarding Single Market access. We will not get anything like we have now. This isn’t going to happen because we can read the EU’s position in black and white so Theresa May knows this and so does Jeremy Corbyn. They’ll stick to their lines because they’re trying to win votes but both positions will end up with the most vulnerable picking up the cheque for either person’s plan.

Now, you’d expect a journalist like Owen Jones to not just know this, but tell his followers and readers this but he doesn’t. Now this is either because he doesn’t know the EU’s position (which makes him just a wee bit crap at this journalism malarky) or he does know and is holding back this information because it’ll hurt Labour’s chances of being elected and Corbyn becoming PM which is dangerously failing to hold power to account as he puts part first. See, it won’t be the well off that pays for Brexit; it’ll be the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled, the weakest in society. The people who can’t leave, or ride out the next 10-20 years as the UK rewrites itself in either a Tory or Labour image.

Jones knows Corbyn’s massive renationalisation plans can’t work with EU membership, but there’s no chance of Labour being a ‘party of social justice’ when people are being laid off in droves because we’ve left the EU and we’ve got austerity that makes what we have now seem like good times. You can’t have a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ either when your entire position revolves around accepting that people’s fear and xenophobic hatred of immigrants is more important than jobs or social justice, but when the party you support comes first, anything goes. Even if it involves you turning your personal politics til this point all over the place in order to support your party’s damaging position.

I despise Blair. He should be in prison, but he does raise some good point but Jones is so locked in the bizarre hubris Labour have been in since they lost another election that suddenly he adopts a position that I’m sure he’d have attacked a few months ago had say, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson adopted it.

To be clear then. There is no ‘soft’, ‘hard’, ‘jobs first’ or even a ‘red, white and blue’ Brexit. There’s only going to be one that hurts and we’re now trying to see if we have a government, or a potential party of government, fighting to make that pain as negligible as possible but the Tory and Labour position is to wheel out the line ‘the will of the people’ because both are too shit scared or ideologically driven (or both) to present the idea that Brexit is insanely damaging and the UK deserves a say in what type of Brexit we’ll get come spring 2019. But no, both Labour and Tory are not being honest here and neither are people like Owen Jones who is putting party ahead of what is going to help the most vulnerable.

And this is the thing that annoys me about the English left. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the left has, more or less, united to fight Brexit and try as much as possible to protect devolution. In England, folk like Owen are willing to sell our rights, jobs and futures out if it means his party wins votes and frankly, I’m done with the cynicism of some on the left in England. We need to make the case for immigration, integration and something better than what we have not for the sake of whatever party we support, but because it’ll be for the good of all of us.

But nah, blind support seems to win the day here and that’s terrifying.

Don’t vote for the Tories or their enablers

The general election is a week away. You have a choice; vote Tory and get the party of the rape clause, child cap, xenophobia, Unionism, racism and a ‘plan’ that is as full of holes as Swiss Cheese. Vote for UKIP you get the same but with extra racism. Vote Labour or Lib Dem in Scotland and you vote for Tory enablers. That’s right, the Tories and Labour are working in unity in Scotland as this Tweet also shows.

Hence why to beat the Tories in Scotland there’s only the SNP/Greens stand as the opposition. In England things are different. Labour are the only option (unless you live in Bristol and Brighton where you should vote Green) and for all of Corbyn’s betrayal over Brexit and his astonishing crapness in regards the rest of the UK outwith England there’s no other option as otherwise we’ve got Theresa May as Prime Minister.

There will be things needing to be done assuming Corbyn becomes PM. Scotland and Northern Ireland can’t adhere to his vision of Brexit, and his failure to keep his branch parties in line in Wales or Scotland as they do (and I assume will continue to do) the exact opposite of what he intends to do in England means that there’s much to be done. There is however the thought of Theresa May in power for five more years doing what she wants and enacting policies that won’t just kill people, but hurt the economy and state in ways we’ve never seen outwith of wartime.

If I were to recommend what people do it would be to vote SNP/Green in Scotland. Labour/Green in England. Plaid in Wales and Alliance and SDLP in Northern Ireland. I’d give Sinn Fein a shout but they refuse to take their seats in Westminster so frankly, what’s the point unless they do that? So this is where we are. Nicola Sturgeon and many on the left are right; this election shapes the future of the UK and Corbyn isn’t a saviour, far bloody from it but he’s not a sociopath like May and we may just be able to see if he’s sensible and pragmatic enough to work with.

But you vote Tory next week you own what they do next. When that comes on your doorstep and hurts you remember that you were warned.