Labour MPs at SWP Jamborees

14th October 2020

The Labour Party is, as Keir Starmer has said, under new management. A grand clear-out of activists who were emboldened and empowered during the Corbyn era is underway.

In the last couple of days, two officers of the Liverpool Wavertree Party have been expelled. One of those given his marching orders was Kevin Bean, secretary of the local party, who was found to have a long-term involvement with another political party: the so-called Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The CPGB is a small Trotskyite party which poses as the original party of that name.

Labour MPs should not be involved with other political parties. There is, of course, wiggle room: where MPs of mainstream parties come together across the house to support particular issues. But the rule should be strictly applied  when that other party is, by its nature, an anti-democratic movement that prefers “street politics” to parliamentary democracy.

Over the years, Labour MPs – typically those of the Corbynite tendency – have been frequent speakers at conferences, meetings and rallies run by the Socialist Workers’ Party. In the past, such conduct was tolerated. The principle of “no enemies to the Left” held sway.

But times have changed. Keir Starmer should now make it clear that it will be a disciplinary matter if any Labour activist, councillor or MP participates in an event run by the SWP or its various front organisations.

Even if one puts to one side the fact that the SWP is a rival party that desires violent revolution, no mainstream politician should appear on the platform or an organisation which has long been mired in allegations of sexual assault and rape made by a 19-year-old female member against its former National Secretary, Martin Smith. The shabby manner in which the party addressed these allegations should have destroyed it. But it didn’t.

On Saturday, 17 October 2020, four Labour MPs – Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Kate Osamor, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy – will appear at a Stand Up to Racism event. The co-convenor of Stand Up to Racism is Weyman Bennett, who has been on the Central Committee of the SWP. Although other individuals and groups are involved in this organisation, it is proper to regard it as an SWP front.

What is objectionable about the SWP is not simply what it is: it is what it does. What it has done with this Stand Up To Racism is to showcase a series of speakers with deeply objectionable views, which stand in opposition to the values of the post-Corbyn Labour Party. There are too many to profile in a single article, so let us consider a few of them.

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong describes himself as a socialist activist, writer, and political analyst”, who contributes to Black Agenda Report. He has strong views on the subject of the treatment of the Uighur minority in the People’s Republic of China.

Earlier this year, Haiphong penned an article in Black Agenda Report entitled “My Trip to China Exposed the Shameful Lies Peddled by the American Empire“. Here are a few choice extracts:

“The truth is that peace-loving people in the U.S. would love China were it not for the plethora of racist, imperialist lies that have been programmed into the minds of Westerners. None of the Empire’s lies held up in my travels from Beijing to Xi’an, then to Dunhuang to Ürümqi—known as the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I didn’t see concentration camps for Uyghurs in Xinjiang. In fact, it is difficult to walk more than a mile without running into a mosque. Every street sign in the city is translated in both Mandarin and Uyghur languages.

It is important to note that the founder of the broader Uyghur independence movement, Anwar Yusef Turani , operates his “government in exile” in Washington D.C and that the World Uyghur Congress is funded heavily by the National Endowment for Democracy , a virtual branch of the CIA. There is thus nothing progressive about Uyghur independence and nothing about Ürümqi indicated otherwise.

As more progress is made in Xinjiang, the more sinister and numerous the American Empire’s lies become.

And so on, and so on.

In a tweet, Haiphong made his position ever clearer:

Bear in mind that the persecution of the Uighurs is motivated in part by the Han Chinese supremacism of Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. The purpose of this event is to “stand up to racism”.

Lindsey German

Lindsey German is a former SWP activist, whose record is too long to do justice in this article.

Let us concentrate on two themes that run through her written and spoken record: the Labour antisemitism scandal and Hamas.

In 2016, German spoke out against the supposed “witch-hunt” of Labour activists, including Jackie Walker. She tells her audience that “you can’t say what she said is antisemitic”, and that the suspension of Walker and “people like her” was an “absolute scandal”.

In the past four years, there can be few prominent Labour activists, suspended for antisemitism, that German has not defended. In this piece, for example, she says:

It seems to me the remarks by Peter Willsman at the NEC or indeed those by Marc Wadsworth who was expelled earlier this year are not antisemitic, whether you agree with them or not.

German’s conclusion is as follows:

“We should also not start denouncing our own side, as this ends up counterproductive. There are too many on the left who approach this by blaming others on the Labour left rather than seeing it as a major onslaught from forces on the right. We shouldn’t concede that there is a major problem on the left with this – because there really isn’t and to keep saying so only weakens the real fight against antisemitism. And that weakens us all. “

When Chris Williamson was suspended, this German lamented “the unwarranted suspension of Chris Williamson for remarks which no objective observer could consider antisemitic”.

Bear in mind that German is speaking at an event, the supposed purpose of which is to oppose racism.

Here, German describes Hamas as a demonised “movement of liberation“, rather than as an Islamist totalitarian terrorist organisation. In this rant, German declares: “We should not allow the government and the BBC to call them terrorists. … It is a lie!”

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is the Joint General Secretary of National Education Union. His track record is too long to do justice to in a short article. Let us concentrate instead on his advocacy for the Cuban regime: a cause close to his heart.

During Courtney’s tenure as General Secretary, the union and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign have organised “solidarity delegations” of teachers to Cuba.

Courtney believes that ” Cuba is an example – an example that can change the world for the better”.

He regularly speaks at Cuba Solidarity events, such as this one in Brighton organised
to “celebrate the gains made by Cuban workers in health, education and internationalism” and featuring the Cuban ambassador:

In May 2020, he posted the following message of solidarity to the “Cuban People”, congratulating them on their progress in education and health, and thanking them for their provision of medical aid overseas.

https://twitter.com/cyclingkev/status/1256329398090752003

Those medical missions have been strongly criticised by Human Rights Watch, which noted in July 2020:

The Cuban government imposes draconian rules on doctors deployed in medical missions globally that violate their fundamental rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments seeking support from Cuban health workers to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic should press Cuban authorities to modify applicable regulations and laws that violate the right to privacy, freedom of expression and association, liberty, and movement, among others.

Jeremy Corbyn is, of course, a great supporter of the Cuban regime. Now he has gone, surely it is time for Labour to make it clear that it does not support totalitarian tyranny, and that its MPs should not appear alongside its advocates?

Christine Buchholz

Christine Buchholz is an MP in the German far Left party, Die Linke. Her preoccupations are not dissimilar to those of Jeremy Corbyn.  Last year, for example, she and her party were criticised by the centre-right CDU  in relation to “anti-Semitism” and “hostility to Israel”, who opined that their politics “largely coincides with the old anti-Zionism” of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany: the governing political party of the old East German republic.

Like Corbyn, Buchholz speaks up for Islamist terrorist movements, and then qualifies that support when challenged. In 2006, for example, she was strongly attacked for supporting demonstrations featuring Hezbollah supporters, at which their flag was flown. The German Interior Minister issued a decree prohibiting the display of Hezbollah flags. This is what she had to say:

“Those who think they are neutral usually take a position – on the side of the stronger. This war is an asymmetrical conflict with an international dimension. On the one hand there is the Israeli government, which has a lot of international backing: The US has delivered 100 bunker-breaking bombs to warring Israel. At the EU foreign ministers’ conference last week, Germany and Great Britain prevented a resolution for an immediate ceasefire. Israel wages war also in the interests of the USA, for whom the smashing of Hezbollah is only a small part of their plan to reorganize and colonize the Near and Middle East. The federal government ultimately supports this.

On the other side of this conflict are Hezbollah, the peace movement in Israel and the international anti-war movement. This is the side I’m on too.”

In relation to the issue of the flying of Hezbollah flags, this was Buchholz’s view:

“Hezbollah is an Islamist party, and as a socialist I have many fundamental differences with it. I reject rocket attacks on the civilian population and do not consider them a suitable means of ending the occupation. But Hezbollah has a lot of support from the poor Shiites and, increasingly, from other groups in Lebanon. It emerged from the resistance against the occupation in southern Lebanon in 1982 and is viewed as an anti-colonial liberation movement. In order to crush them, the entire population in southern Lebanon must be attacked. Demonizing Hezbollah is part of ideological warfare. The left shouldn’t participate.

Körting wants to isolate and intimidate the Arab demonstrators and discredit and stigmatize the protests. I am opposed to our Arab and Palestinian fellow citizens being placed under suspicion of terrorism. The demonstration on Saturday was a sign that Muslim, Jewish, Christian and left-wing citizens stand against the war and for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East and Germany.”

When the Kurds were under attack from ISIS, they were saved by US air power. What was Buchholz’s response? To oppose the US air support, while of course, offering useless “solidarity” to the besieged Kurds.

These are only four of the speakers. There are many more. The 9/11 conspiracy theorist. The man who was pictured praying at the grave of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin. Other outspoken activists against the suspension of Labour members for antisemitism.

Labour is changing. It is clear that Keir Starmer understands well that the Cuba fanatics, the allies of Hezbollah, the deniers of the oppression of the Uighurs are not harmless eccentrics, but are part and parcel of the era of crank politics that characterised Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.

Now is that time to put in place a cordon sanitaire. It should not be possible to be a member, let alone an MP, of a mainstream democratic party and to participate in events run by a anti-democratic fringe rival political party, alongside such figures.

UPDATE: 15 October 2020

Michael Wong will to speak at the SUTR conference this weekend. He is another defender of the Chinese Communist Party.

A sense of Michael Wong’s politics can be gleaned from this video, in which he says:

“The US keeps portraying China as an oppressive society that silences its population but in fact opinion polls as well as first hand reports show that the population of China has a 90% approval rate of its present government.”

In this Facebook post, Michael Wong tells the heartwarming story of the brave anti-colonialist locals who fought off the evil Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors:

“While what we saw (in the mainstream media) was an ugly beating by white shirts against the protestors the whole incident was actually provoked by the protesters. Yuen Long is in the outskirts of HK very close to China. It’s made up of 18 villages – they have a close knit village Association and a distinctive heritage and culture. They have a history of protests against the British govt since the colonial days. They fought the British govt during the early days of colonialism incurring 500 deaths.

On the evening in question it was the rioters who engineered and started the fight. They were led by a legislative representative who represents Shatin, another village next to Yuen along. He took a group of rioters and marched to Yuen Long with the intent to create disturbances and they broke out into a fight. It started as a mutual combat but the Yuen Long folks who had heard about them coming to combat them had prepared themselves and recruited some tough guys to protect them. The rioters were losing the fight and ran away. They were chased by the roughies to the train station who basically beat the shit out of them. Meanwhile the rioters jammed the local police station with a documented 20,000. calls to the station so the police station never got the call for help from those in the train until much later. It is ironic that those rioters accused the police for not coming to their rescue when they have been attacking the police stations all over Hong Kong and lying in wait to beat up and knifing police officers going home after duty. We don’t hear about police officers getting hurt because the media doesn’t report them.”

He links to a video by Sara Flounders from the Maoist Workers World Party, entitled: “Hong Kong Protests: Follow the Money by Sara Flounders”. The video was published by the Peace Report, which describes itself as “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist”.

The video is accompanied by an article, which states:

“Funding from the NED, the Ford, Rockefeller, Soros and numerous other corporate foundations, Christian churches of every denomination, and generous British funding, is behind this hostile, subversive network orchestrating the Hong Kong protests.”