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UK Local Elections May 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The only good news is that UKIP is being pushed back. But other than that… one has to worry…

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1. Aengus Millen - May 5, 2017

Yeah gains for the SNP was my lifeline and even that seems to not be materializing to the extent hoped for and the tories making big gains even in Scotland.

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2. irishelectionliterature - May 5, 2017

It just seems to be the case of Tories winning, Labour losing, Lib Dems not doing much, SNP gaining slightly and gains for The Greens and Plaid Cymru.
Presumably we’re looking at a massive Tory landslide in June.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 5, 2017

You are counting your SNP chickens before they have hatched. It appears Aberdeenshire & other traditional pre Mrs Thatcher heartlands are returning to the Conservative fold.

A quick bag of the envelope calculation would suggest Others 60-65, Lib-Dems 10-15, Labour 120-140, Conservatives 430-460. This is assuming some seats not lost to Conservatives by tactical voting. This suggests a majority of the order of 190 plus. The opposition would have problems filling committees jobs, let alone providing any form of real opposition. Taking say 15 SNP seats just adds to the massive majorities.

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3. An Sionnach Fionn - May 5, 2017

Slight gains for the Greens, SNP and PC so far but otherwise the Tories’ day. Hopefully better results later. UKIP has been gobbled up by the Tories. Labour has lost droves of voters to the Conservatives too. The Brexit effect in action.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 5, 2017

Conservatives gained 8 seats in Aberdeen City, county yet to finish counting, but Conservatives have at least one seat in every electoral area!

A stunning performance, really back to 1950s & 1960s.

Fighting from the centre, even if that centre has become quite extreme.

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6to5against - May 6, 2017

Does it even claim to be the centre? This Tory gov’t is considerably to the right of Thatcher. They may not stand out as much in these changed times but they have continued her trajectory.

This is a victory for extremism and bigotry. I can’t see any other way of dressing it up. Those using it as a stick with which to beat Corbin have to go a bit further, and explain just how far they would have gone to the right in policy to get a victory.

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Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

The problem with Corbyn is not that he has moved too far too the left. The problem is that he has confined himself to left talk. What is required is for the labour and trade union movement to launch a mass campaign of strikes and demonstrations against Tory cuts. In this huge crisis, an injunction to hard pressed families to vote left every five years is unlikely to impress or to have any credibility.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 6, 2017

Very much. They are of the centre, it is just the centre has now moved substantially. This is the point throughout much of Europe, the tilting of politics has moved the middle ground substantially in a rightward direction. A mild may social democrat may now be seen as “left wing”. When the opposition decide that the best to reverse the process, is to elect a leader who has at best been seen as peripheral for his whole career, it only emphasises the point.

Cultural hegemony, pure and simple. Mrs. May understands it & using pejorative terms does not change that core point.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 5, 2017

It gets worse for the SNP, in one of their heartland areas, Perth & Kinross, the new council composition:

CON: 17 (+7)
SNP: 15 (-3)
LDEM: 4 (-1)
IND: 3 (-1)
LAB: 1 (-3)

This surely puts a suposedlly very safe SNP MP, Pete Wishart in deep trouble. He had a majority of 10,000 in 2015.

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An Sionnach Fionn - May 5, 2017

Looks like the polling predictions of a Tory resurgence in Scotland might have some weight behind them. The Glasgow results are a bit of a shocker. Have the Tories swept up the pro-union vote regardless of other left/right considerations?

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irishelectionliterature - May 5, 2017

Yes it looks like a Unionist vote for the Tories in Scotland. Labour are being squeezed by Brexit in England and Wales and then by Independence/ Brexit in Scotland.

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4. Paddy Healy - May 5, 2017

No results posted by TUSC (Socialist Party+RMT Union+Others)

Check http://www.tusc.org.uk

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Jolly Red Giant - May 5, 2017

Around the 1% mark in most areas – TUSC candidate for Doncaster mayor got about 2.5% (1500 votes)

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Jolly Red Giant - May 5, 2017

TUSC candidate for Liverpool mayor got about 8,000 votes (3%)

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Jolly Red Giant - May 6, 2017

TUSC did somewhat better (in relative terms) in Scotland – particularly in Dundee where they outpolled the LibDems in some wards.

Dundee would be the main base of support for the Socialist Party Scotland (CWI).

TUSC polled better than the Scottish Socialist Party and Tommy Sheridan’s ‘Hope Not Fear’ – both of whom in a number of cases got less than 20 votes.

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5. Paddy Healy - May 5, 2017

I can find no report of a Single TUSC (Socialist Party+RMT Union+Others) councillor or SWP councillor being elected anywhere in Great Britain. Am I missing something.?
For the first time in its history the British Communist Party Put up no candidates.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 5, 2017

Nope – none elected – and none were expected to be elected.

Most of the councils up for election this year would have been areas where the left traditionally doesn’t have a base.

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6. Paddy Healy - May 5, 2017

I hear results fromLiverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Derby, Birmingham, Cardiff, Merthyr etc. They seem like seem like strong traditional left wing areas to me!

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An Cathaoirleach - May 5, 2017

All Welsh & Scottish councils were up for grabs.In England it was County Councils and certain other large authorities. Merthyr and similar soundly rejecting Labour, TUSC etc, with Lab down from 22 to 14 seats.

Trotskyism in any of its 57 different varieties has been failed by the workers! The workers seem to prefer Mrs. May.

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7. Aonrud ⚘ - May 5, 2017

I see the Liberal Party lost their three seats. By their account of the succession, that must break a continuity since the Whigs?

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8. roddy - May 5, 2017

The SP seem to do better in the Dublin region .Oh sorry they have’nt incorporated Dublin back into the empire yet via their “federation of the British isles!

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Jolly Red Giant - May 5, 2017

Ah now roddy – you know that there is no such thing in the Socialist Party’s perspective as a ‘federation of the British Isles’ – unlike SF’s austerity coalition with the reactionary bigots of the DUP

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Starkadder - May 5, 2017

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9. RosencrantzisDead - May 5, 2017

UK voters right now:

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10. WorldbyStorm - May 5, 2017

Proof, if any were needed that the events of the last year in regard to the Brexit referendum have been catastrophic for the left in the UK. There’s compelling evidence that the Tories are eating into the LP’s terrain and as someone put it, UKIP (and presumably the referendum) have functioned as gateways to previously LP inclined voters to the Tories.

And the points above re pro-union (i.e. UK) vote are spot on. Again, this is identity politics writ large with the advantage entirely to the Tory party.

Jesus wept. How to push back against this? I don’t know. It’s going to take years.

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Lamentreat - May 5, 2017

Maybe it will take a catastrophically lost war to drum some sense into a nation so deluded. Hopefully only a negotiating one, not a shooting one.

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Lamentreat - May 5, 2017

(Although… judging from the illusions regarding their football team, there’s no indication defeat teaches them anything.)

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Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

It is not time that is required. It is a change of policy to meet the situation where progressive change and even defence of existing working class rigts and conditions is plainly totally impossible through electoral and parliamentary activity alone. If an impoverished worker family sees its life remaining permanently in misery, it is unlikely to respond to an injunction to vote left in five years time as a solution; Action not Talk is what is required-strikes demonstrations against Tory austerity. The social democratic leaership of Trade unions is an obstacle. And yes: Corbyn must start leading mass mobilisaions. These things have to be fought for in the broad Labour movement. But there is a further problem . The British left is a disaster as it has been for decades. It apears that not a single TUSC, Scottish TUSC, SP, SWP councillor was elected and the CP did not contest. But this is merely a symptom. The problem is that the left groups have minimal implantation in real working class communities. So even if they happen occasionally to have a correct policy/strategy they are unable to deliver on it and to bring serious pressure to bear on conservative labour movement leaderships. The capacity for self-criticism of each group is limited by the necessity to compete with rival groups for recruits. Each has its own holy grail and however wrong a group was, it has to maintain that the other crowd was worse.
How can it be that organisations which have been in existence since the second world war, and further back in some cases, have so little connection with working class commuities that they cannot elect a single councillor? We could never afford this disfunctionality. It cannot be tolerated at all in current circumstances. I have been listening to nonsense from these groups for 55 years!

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Michael Carley - May 6, 2017

And yet down the road from me, in a prosperous little town, a new local party has made a clean sweep of ten seats on the town council.

https://www.idealbradford.org/

Something similar happened a bit further down the road two years ago http://iffrome.org.uk/

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Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

Thanks Michael. It just shows the political vacuum that exists. The failure of any national body to organise an effective campaign against Tory austerity says it all!!

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Michael Carley - May 6, 2017

Any serious party should be asking why ragtag alliances can take over town councils, but the organized left beyond Labour can’t.

In fairness, these groups present themselves as “nonpolitical” which can hide a lot of things, but there is something the left should learn.

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Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

Michael Carley is dead right!

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GW - May 6, 2017

I fully share your diagnosis and frustration, Paddy.

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GW - May 6, 2017

Yes, and it gives me no pleasure to have ‘been right’.

Talking to relatives and friends in the UK on the left they are in a state of demoralisation.

As Paddy says extra-parliamentary action is the only thing left for the working class during the forthcoming Tory Brexit government.

One of the things that must be done it to make the Tories fully own the economic and legal disaster that will be the reality of Brexit – which means no footling about with fantasies like ‘our Brexit’.

If the Labour Party came out and demanded a referendum on the basis of the agreement / non-agreement in early 2019, it would help to distance themselves from the Tory Brexit.

The people in the first Brexit vote had no idea what they were ‘speaking’ about.

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GW - May 6, 2017

Tories and unionists should be assigned ownership of Brexit, I meant to say.

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An Sionnach Fionn - May 6, 2017

Thatcher and the Tories had the Falkland Islands and the Loadsamoney class in the 1980s. May and the Tories have Brexit and White Van Man. Crude and simplistic analogies I know but that seems to be where the UK’s politics are at the moment.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 6, 2017

Perhaps you start by understanding it? The process of change has been happening for many years. There was a very detailed article in the Tablet just after the 2015 election, which analysed how the LP vote had changed over thirty years. As a party it had become very dependent on different minorities, which slowly but surely had moved more towards the norms of the societies in which they lived. This had temporarily insulated from its losses among what you might describe as the white working class.

It also as one of the two big parties consistently was a huge winner from the seat bias arising from the FPTP system. Now, as one party is effectively as big as all the others put together, the inbuilt system bias accrues to just one party. A brief glimpse was seen in Scotland* in 2015, which few people commenting here saw as unfair, because of their personal biases, now it is happening in England.

*To be fair to the SNP, they have always supported proportional representation, but not the Labour Party.

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11. Starkadder - May 5, 2017

One silver lining to this Tory cloud…the low turnout. There’s been a lower-than-usual amount of people voting-maybe a higher turnout will hurt the Tories.


Liverpool appears to be continuing the trend for very low turnout in Metro Mayor elections.Earlier it emerged that less than a third of people in the West of England turned out to vote in that region’s first Metro election – just 29.72%.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/live-local-election-results-2017-10357130?service=responsive

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12. irishelectionliterature - May 5, 2017

https://athousandflowers.net/2017/05/05/how-labour-lost-glasgow/ interesting piece on Scottish Politics and the election results

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13. Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

NO information available on election results on websites TUSC, SP, SWP. Must be very little good news . Did TUSC/Scottish TUSC get a single councillor elected? Only news I can see is on Scottish TUSC Facebook Page : Dundee Against Cuts; “Our thanks to every single one of the many hundreds of people who gave their No 1 vote for the Dundee Against Cuts – TUSC candidates in yesterday’s election. Our highest vote was in Maryfield where we received 250 votes, over 100 votes in Lochee and Strathmartine and creditable votes for all our candidates.”

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14. Jolly Red Giant - May 6, 2017
Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

The article was written before the local elections. Any results assessment yet?
The article is short on any strategy to generate mass organised resistance to Tory cuts, such as strikes and demonstrations. . Talking and explaining are necessary but not sufficient in this huge crisis for the left.

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WorldbyStorm - May 6, 2017

It is a huge crisis for the left – completely agree Paddy.

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An Cathaoirleach - May 6, 2017

Paddy, the masses have spoken. The workers are united in their support of Mrs. May.

They have (successfully) organised mass resistance to spendthrift economic policies & financial support for malingerers.

Go learn from them!

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15. roddy - May 6, 2017

An Cathaoirleach,are you free state Labour or FG?

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16. Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

The centre of gravity of politics within capitalism is indeed shifting constantly further to the right. This process is taking place within British Labour where there is growing polarisation. We await the outcome. However the outcome in Irish social democracy is already known. It is epitomised by the recent the Labour Party vote against the declaration of a nationa housing emergency following Fempi anti-union laws and lone parent cuts during the last government This position is highlighted by the fact that the Irish Jesuits are far to the left of the Labour Party. Traditional Irish social democratic values(in opposition only) are now expressed by Fr Sean Healy and Fr Peter MvVerry!!
FR SEAN HEALY: “IRELAND’s SOCIAL CONTRACT IS BROKEN” as government and institutions are not making a minimum standard of living, essential social services and infrastructure, and the protection of basic rights a priority.
Full Article http://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

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An Cathaoirleach - May 6, 2017

It is fair to say that Fr Healy is further to the Left than most. Interestingly McVerry is a strong supporter of protection for fee-paying schools.

However, back to the subject of the thread, rather than the other issues you have raised, which can be dealt with under another discussion. The centre of gravity, within society has shifted. The Conservatives recognised this and have positioned themselves accordingly, no more no less. To assume that they have driven the changes fails to recognise how long it took them to move, spending a long time remembering older rose-tinted glory days & recognising where the “new centre ground” is.

There are substantial differences between centre-right forces across Europe. The UK appears to be moving in its own direction. May I recommend the late Hugo Young’s This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair (1998) ISBN 0-333-57992-5, while primarily is about the UK relationship with the EEC/EU, discusses those idealogical differences.

Mrs. May has moved her party very quickly into a place where the majority of people are comfortable either voting for her, or at least with her in power. No mean feat for any politician. Whether you agree with her or not, study it. Bland slogans are not an argument for change.

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17. CL - May 6, 2017

“Welsh Labour will try to distance itself from the national party during the general election campaign after it did better than activists and experts anticipated in the local elections.
While Welsh Labour was upset at losing out in constituencies with strong historical ties to the party such as Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent, it held on to power in Newport, Swansea and Cardiff.
When it launches its general election campaign next week its branding and slogans will make it clear it has its own identity.”
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/05/welsh-labour-distance-itself-uk-party-corbyn-general-election

Labour in England can learn from the Welsh party’s local election performance, its general election campaign chairman in Wales has said…
Wayne David said the Tories made fewer gains than expected as Welsh Labour was “in touch with people’s realities”.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-politics-39825696

“England and Wales represent two very different, indeed incompatible, approaches to health care. In the former, health care has come under increasing threat from the predatory forces of privatization. In Wales, however, an explicit effort has been made to defend socialist values and formulate them for the twenty-first century, defending and expanding a system that puts the health and well-being of its citizens over profit.”
https://monthlyreview.org/page/2/

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An Cathaoirleach - May 6, 2017

The Labour Party candidates in Glasgow did not even bother with the “Scottish” bit, opting for “Glasgow Labour Party”. Their performance was far better than expected and far better than in other locations. Running through the transfers, shows how split Scottish society is on the “National” question, with just the Greens picking up reasonable transfers from the “other” side.

The problem for Wales is what now happens to the Barnett formula, as it is nearly as big a financial disaster as Northern Ireland. The current system of financial support is not in the interest of English LP managed authorities.

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18. RosencrantzisDead - May 6, 2017

BBC’s Projected National Vote Share from Local Election 2017:

Conservative 38
Labour 27
Liberal Democrat 18
UKIP 5
Rest 12

Compare vote-share from 2015:

Conservative 36.8
Labour 30.4
Liberal Democrat 7.9
UKIP 12.6
Rest 13 (approx.)

It is difficult to make any inferences the local to the populace as a whole. However, if we give any credence to the PNS then UKIP are heading for a collapse. Leaving the ‘rest’ to one side, the combined centre-right/right-wing* vote share (comprising UKIP plus Tory) has decreased by almost 6%. Labour vote is down about 3% with Lib Dems more than doubling.

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Gerryboy - May 9, 2017

I infer from the local election result that the British Labour Party is heading for a hammering in the General Election.

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19. Mick 2 - May 6, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/05/local-elections-tories-profit-from-ukip-collapse-amid-labour-losses

“Siôn Simon, Labour’s losing candidate in the West Midlands, said: “[…] Traditional working-class voters, who we were born to serve, quite simply want to hear a clearer, stronger message about traditional values like patriotism [read: blaming immigrants for everything], hard work [read: blaming social security claimants for everything] and a defence of decency, law and order [shudder].””

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20. Mick 2 - May 6, 2017

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_United_Kingdom_general_election,_2017#Graphical_summary

Interestingly, since the election was called, the poll of polls shows a wee drop in support for the Tories and a more noticeable uptick in support for Labour. I think the election campaign will narrow the gaping lead. But of course the elections this week have come so early in the campaign.

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21. Mick 2 - May 6, 2017

Another thought. I was watching Philip Hammond on the telly the other day bringing out the “strong and stable leadership” and “coalition of chaos” guff for the umpteenth time. I just thought, How are ordinary Brits not totally turned off by such utterly patronising catchphrase-mongering? We saw how the “keep the recovery” stuff flopped here, but at least there was a modicum of debate of the issues. I just find it incredible that the Tories feel they can get away with talking to the nation like a class of junior infants… and that it has worked before and will probably work again. You’d like not to blame the electorate for the awful state of affairs, but sometimes I just despair…

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22. roddy - May 6, 2017

Like Del Boy once famously proclaimed in “only fools and horses”- “don’t it make you proud to be British”!

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23. Jolly Red Giant - May 6, 2017

I did have a long reply written addressing Paddy Healy about the ‘disaster’ that is the left in the UK – but I said to myself why would I bother posting something in reply to someone who has done nothing to develop the left in the last 40 years and spends all his time lecturing those, who are actually doing something, about all of their faults.

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24. Paddy Healy - May 6, 2017

There is a need for a serious and scientific assessment of the peculiarities of the British working class. Large numbers of British workers have fought heroic battles with the British ruling class.But side by side with this there has been an extremely politically backward side to the majorityof british workers and the British masses for centuries. This is not a moral issue. if any other nationality or ethnic group had come through similar experiences the effect on them would be the same. Early and incomplete victory over feudalism under Cromwell leading to Restoration of the Monarchy and reinforcement of popular royalist and anti-democratic views. -Development of colonialism including military service abroad in every generation-need of ruling elite to inculcate superiority complex and racism in lower classes to make them effective in suppressing and massacreing colonial peoples when required. Many huge wars with European rival colonial powers requiring inculcation of similar attitudes to other Europeans. At certain points in history the fundamentally progressive nature of the working class as a class breaks through these control mechanisms and many carry out heroic and selfless deeds. But the continued existence of these politically backward cultures is part of the problem that revolutionaries face in the UK. Support for colonial revolts including complete disengagement from Ireland was always regarded by Marxists as an important means of preparing British workers to free themselves. It is inexcusable that SP and SWP refuse to come out for complete British disengagement from Ireland. Not only does justice for the Irish People demand it, but it is necessary to prepare British workers to free themselves. The vulnerability of British workers to the jingoism and anti-immigrant racism of May and Farrage shows that much needs to be done and that there has been much negligence in the past.In fairness, Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingston have played a positive role on these issues including on the H-Block issue.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 6, 2017

Like I said – pontificating claptrap – without a clue what is actually happening on the ground.

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WorldbyStorm - May 6, 2017

You know JRG given you wrote this last July on the site perhaps you’d use the term ‘pontificating claptrap’ in relation to Paddy a little less…

I can’t think of someone here who has been proven more conclusively wrong time and time again and yet seems to find it within themselves to refer to others on a personal level in the most insulting terms. It isn’t appropriate for this site and it isn’t wanted.

“WbS – nobody is disputing that there has been an increase in racist attacks since the referendum – indeed nobody is disputing that some sections of the working class voted Leave on the basis of anti-immigrant attitudes.

But I would argue that it is an utter mistake to 1. argue that the Leave vote was a reactionary vote based on the xenophobic outlook of the little Englanders – 2. that a vote to Remain in the EU (an institution that is profoundly undemocratic) was a progressive vote – 3. that the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee (and austerity) policies of the EU are not very largely responsible for the rise of the far-right and the rise in racist attacks – 4. that if there had been a Remain vote then there wouldn’t have been an increase in racist attacks, an increase in xenophobia attitudes and an increase in support for the far-right – and 5. (specifically in relation to the North) that a Leave vote is somehow going to act to inhibit the prospect of a United Ireland.

The referendum campaign in Briatin was dominated by the xenophobic campaign (and facilitated by the right-wing media) run by Johnson, Gove and Farage in part because the row within the Tories was not between a pro-immigrant wing and anti-immigrant wing but two gangs of xenophobic little Englanders (and right-wing Blairites) arguing about how best to impose controls on the movement of immigrants – and in part by the failure of Corbyn and his supporters to adopt a Lexit position and argue on a class basis against the EU and xenophobia.

The Leave vote included a significant number of people (I would argue a significant majority of working class people) who voted Leave on an anti-austerity, anti-EU basis and to give the Tories and the Blairites a kicking because of the devastation wrought by these hacks over the past 40 years. Part of the Remain vote was a vote, not in favour of the EU but against the xenophic and anti-immigrant, anti-refugee policies of the EU. Presenting the Remain vote as progressive and the Leave vote as reactionary is an utterly false approach.

Now the fallout of referendum is not a victory for the right and the xenophobes. It has caused a schism in the Tories – Johnson got shafted, Gove got shafted, Farage shafted himself and despite the the efforts by the Blairites, Corbyn is still fighting. Furthermore, if Remain had won the Blairites will still have moved to shaft Corbyn and could well have succeeded.

What is happening now is that the political debate has dramatically moved on. Much as the establishment would like to focus on the ‘stability’ of the Tories and the conflict in the LP – the reality is that the Tories are still at one another’s throats and the blood letting is far from over. Moreover – the leadership battle in the LP is shifting political discourse to the left and will be fought out as a conflict between left and right for the heart and soul of the LP. The contest is politicising significant numbers of working class people (interestingly there is anecdotal evidence that many joining to support Corbyn voted Leave) and the fallout from the referendum has opened up the potential for a split by the Blairites from the LP and the opening up of the possibility of a left-wing LP led by Corbyn, with 1million members and growing, and becoming an active campaigning party.

The battle to defeat the xenophobes and racists will not be determined by membership of the EU – it will be determined by the ability of the left to confront these attitudes and to build a mass anti-austerity left-wing party. A victory for Corbyn in the battle for the LP will have a profound effect, not just on the British working class, but throughout Europe. It will raise the prospect of further growth in anti-austerity forces across Europe and it will raise the prospect of rising support for leaving the EU – but this time from a left basis (and this is assuming that Corbyn doesn’t start arguing for a new referendum which would be a serious political mistake).

Last point – a Corbyn victory would have a big impact in Ireland – but there is a serious danger inherent in the political situation. The call by SF for a border poll is predictable and expected – but it is a serious mistake. It is predicated on the false belief that the when there is a Catholic majority there will be a majority vote for a United Ireland and Protestants will meekly accept their fate, hold their hands up and walk into such a situation without a whimper. The reality is that the Protestant working class would treat a border poll with exactly the same contempt that Catholic working class people treated the border poll in 1973 and, furthermore, it woul open up the prospect of a renewed and vicious sectarian conflict.”

I’ve only picked out a few obvious points where your analysis was entirely wrong and only to illustrate the point that you have some neck coming on here telling other people that they’re talking claptrap. Hopefully you’ll get the message.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 7, 2017

Lets take your claim that I have been proved entirely wrong –
Now the fallout of referendum is not a victory for the right and the xenophobes. It has caused a schism in the Tories – Johnson got shafted, Gove got shafted, Farage shafted himself and despite the the efforts by the Blairites, Corbyn is still fighting.

The Tories are tearing themselves to pieces over Brexit. Two weeks ago the members of the Cabinet Brexit sub-committee nearly came to punches and the majority of those at the meeting stormed out. May hasn’t a clue what she is doing – and the only reason that all of this hasn’t been main headline news is that the right-wing media have been engaged in an unrelenting attack on Corbyn. UKIP have imploded – and the Blairites are still engaged in an all-out assault on Corbyn who is still there.

it will be determined by the ability of the left to confront these attitudes and to build a mass anti-austerity left-wing party.

What the Socialist Party has been arguing – that the LP is two parties in one – has been utterly confirmed in the election. Large numbers of the Blairite MPs are claiming that they have no confidence in Corbyn as PM. They are doing their best to utterly undermine the LP election campaign. There is a major battle due this week when Corbyn will attempt to force through a left-wing manifesto against a majority of Blairites on the LP manifesto sub-committee. It is a long and hard battle but the tide is beginning to turn. Corbyn spoke at a rally of 700 people in Liverpool last week delivering an anti-austerity message – thousands applied for tickets. This despite the fact that he is having to fight the election with his two hands tied behind his back and the Blairites and the media punching him continuously in the mouth.

Furthermore – the British economy is going straight down the tubes (and this was happening long before Brexit) and May is in a race against time to get to the general election before it collapses.

It will raise the prospect of further growth in anti-austerity forces across Europe and it will raise the prospect of rising support for leaving the EU.

Again – this process is beginning – or did you not notice the 20% vote of Melenchon in France. It is worth noting that Melenchon’s rallies were significantly bigger than those of LePen and again, his campaign was subjected to constant attacks by the French media. In 2012 LePen got 18% of the vote. In 2014 the FN won 24% of the vote in the Euro Elections. In the first round of this years election she got 21% of the vote – and in part the small rise was as a result of the collapse of Fillon’s vote (from the UMP vote in 2012). In contrast the vote for Melenchon nearly doubled in the same time.

Massive demonstrations took place in Spain on Mayday – following on from a recent strike wave among school students that forced a major climbdown by the right-wing government over attempts to re-introduce a Franco-style system into schools.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 7, 2017

So I would argue that your assertion that my “analysis was entirely wrong and only to illustrate the point that you have some neck coming on here telling other people that they’re talking claptrap” – in fact most of what I have been saying on here for months is actually panning out in a way I suggested. There is – and has been – a serious danger that many on the left are looking at election results and drawing the conclusion that the right-wing and the far right are on the rise – they are not. What is happening is a re-alignment of politics – the collapse of the former social democracies and the beginnings of the a re-emergence of mass left forces. The support for the far-right is in part a rejection of the policies of neo-liberalism but the base of the far right is built on sand and can quickly collapse away from under them (as demonstrated with UKIP this week – the situation is slightly different in France where there has been a traditional base of support for the FN). That is not to say that there aren’t dangers inherent in the situation – without the building of a new mass left party in Britain and elsewhere then the far-right can gain a growing foothold. But there is enormous potential in the situation and with you and Paddy (and many others) that message is lost.

So the description of ‘pontificating claptrap’ is warranted – because Paddy’s assessment of Britain is that the left are a disaster and the only way they can revive is but foisting Irish left republicanism to the top of the mast – it is utter nonsense and does not bear any reality to what is actually happening on the ground.

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WorldbyStorm - May 7, 2017

When the Tories as a party, an entity led by a single leader, are steaming to victory and you can still come out with the above I have to wonder at your grasp on reality. And this, by they by, has nothing to do with the SP analysis, this is all you. It really is.

For example, given the material reality that the Tories are going to win the next UK election the following is risible:

“There is – and has been – a serious danger that many on the left are looking at election results and drawing the conclusion that the right-wing and the far right are on the rise – they are not. ”

This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

So May won’t be PM, that vile bunch won’t be in a position of state power for the next five years and possibly longer given the lamentable state of the LP. You’re not even offering an analysis now, it’s just empty rhetoric.

And the sudden sliding away, rhetorically, by you in relation to UKIP and the FN in France is frankly dishonest given that it’s the Tories who will win in the UK and Macron in France. Those are disasters, particularly the Tories, for the class. There’s no other interpretation one can put on it.

There is no “potential” in this. There just isn’t and it’s again tiresome to hear someone who is actually intelligent and astute come out with this pointless boilerplate.

As to the following:

“It will raise the prospect of further growth in anti-austerity forces across Europe and it will raise the prospect of rising support for leaving the EU.”

Again, no relation to reality whatsoever. Though needless to say you use the entirely disingenuous ‘raise the prospect’ line, which is a rather sleeveen way of wriggling off the hook of actuality. We’ve actually seen and polling bears this out, a solidifying of pro-EU sentiment.

Part of engaging with reality is acknowledging what is actually going on. But look, if you want to whistle past the graveyard, that’s entirely up to you.

It doesn’t do away with the fact you’ve been entirely personalised in your attacks on this site in relation to Paddy Healy and I’ve had just about enough of that that I can take. Anything more on that line, any attempt to justify that personalised and insulting approach, and you’re going to be banned. End of story.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 7, 2017

The likelihood is that the Tories will win the election in Britain – although it is far from guaranteed. Indeed it would be a lot closer if the Blairites were not sabotaging Corbyn’s campaign. But any Tory government post the election will be very weak – facing a Brexit shambles, a severe economic downturn and being forced to implement massive austerity. The problem for the Tories is and will be, their ability to actually implement this austerity – particularly if Corbyn manages to stay as LP leader and the Blairites abandon the LP for some sort of deal with the LibDems. Now a complicating factor is Brexit – or specifically, that the ‘Remainers’ will claim that the economy would be fine if they remained within the EU (when in reality the British economy was in deep trouble anyway) and we will have to wait and see how this will pan out.

The situation in France is similar with Macron in France – his government will be weak – he will likely have a less than supportive parliament – and France’s position within the EU will be somewhat undermined. In fact the entire EU project is in trouble with the bureaucrats scrambling on a continuous basis to hold it together and at this stage almost exclusively reliant on Merkel.

You claim there is ‘no potential out of this’ – well if that is the case the left might just as well pack its bags give up and confine Marxism to the dustbin of history, There is no point in doing anything.

AS for disasters for the class – well the class has been facing disaster for a long time – particularly since 2008 – the re-election of the Tories and the election of Macron will be more of the same – not some new and impending disaster. And I absolutely disagree with your suggestion of a ‘solidifying pro-EU sentiment’ – there is a complex set of attitudes prevalent – one an anti-EU, anti-neo-liberal attitude that in part is manifest with support for the far right but is more pronounced in people not engaging with existing parliamentary politics – and one an anti-xenophobic sentiment which is manifest not in support for the neo-liberal policies of the EU or the EU itself, but a rejection of the little Englander and other nationalist sentiments. When a radical anti-austerity left programme is agitated for both of these attitudes can be and are being cut across.

Last point – Paddy Healy has spent decades shouting and screaming at everyone on the left – copious amounts of emails and internet postings – that the left is a disaster and that everyone is wrong except him. He can do this all he wants but deserves to be called out on it. He has no clue what is happening on the ground with the left in Britain (and the rest of Europe) and neither do most on here. The advantage of being part of an international organisation is that you get feedback from people actually involved in struggle – not reading the right-wing media, looking at election results and then thinking you can add 2+2.

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WorldbyStorm - May 7, 2017

The likelihood is that the Tories will win the election in Britain – although it is far from guaranteed. Indeed it would be a lot closer if the Blairites were not sabotaging Corbyn’s campaign. But any Tory government post the election will be very weak – facing a Brexit shambles, a severe economic downturn and being forced to implement massive austerity. The problem for the Tories is and will be, their ability to actually implement this austerity – particularly if Corbyn manages to stay as LP leader and the Blairites abandon the LP for some sort of deal with the LibDems. Now a complicating factor is Brexit – or specifically, that the ‘Remainers’ will claim that the economy would be fine if they remained within the EU (when in reality the British economy was in deep trouble anyway) and we will have to wait and see how this will pan out.

By your logic the Tory support should have collapsed long ago (indeed you have long and wrongly argued it would) due to austerity. But of course they haven’t and instead survived and clearly prospered despite austerity, in part by managing to shift onto the effective identity politics of Brexit, an area the left already diminished is woefully unable to compete on. And the evidence is in front of your eye about all this, you yourself have to admit May short of a catastrophe is going to win.

And far from there being splits in the Tories they are entirely united and have been largely so bar some rhetorical noise since Brexit. And a May buttressed by an election win is going to be a May with even more authority and a more united party. It is precisely because you do not appear to understand the identity politics component of this that you continue to analyse this on terms that are simply not fit for purpose. You try to smother this in the ‘austerity’ special sauce but that doesn’t work (and by the by the SP here was astute enough to recognise the diminishing returns from that on this island too in relation to the name AAA though no doubt I’ll be subjected to some long piece on how that is completely different). British politics has moved on (even though austerity hasn’t gone away and May will use her victory to further prosecute matters to he liking).

As to the Blairites – who I loath – ‘sabotaging Corbyn’s campaign’? Frankly and I wish it were otherwise the performance of Corbyn and his front bench is utterly underpowered with far too many own goals for comfort. The LP right has pulled in behind the LP (bar Blair’s rather stupid comments) and for one obvious reason, they don’t want to lose their seats and/or see the BLP shift left in the wake of another defeat. And a further irony. They need more rather than less LP MPs elected in order to ensure this. And so their interests converge with Corbyn at this point. For this is damage limitation and save their asses time. But you apparently blame them for holding the LP back at this time.

The situation in France is similar with Macron in France – his government will be weak – he will likely have a less than supportive parliament – and France’s position within the EU will be somewhat undermined. In fact the entire EU project is in trouble with the bureaucrats scrambling on a continuous basis to hold it together and at this stage almost exclusively reliant on Merkel.

This is fantasy. Where are the centrifugal forces actually tearing the EU apart? What is the next domino to fall after the UK? The Netherlands was never really an issue albeit it could be an inconvenience, France = well even Le Pen had had to moderate her own language (and sheesh, are you suggesting a post-fascist French exit from the EUwould that be a good thing?). In Germany the only forces making that running are the far right AfD. And so on.

You claim there is ‘no potential out of this’ – well if that is the case the left might just as well pack its bags give up and confine Marxism to the dustbin of history, There is no point in doing anything.

There’s a difference between saying that one should persist which is self-evident and saying that at a given time there is potential. At this point there’s no immediate potential. That’s a simple statement of fact. May will have more MPs, the economy will indeed be weakened. The forces of the left scattered, the LP weakened. Saying there is potential is utterly beside the point. It’s irrelevant. As long as there is life there is some hope of survival but ‘potential’?

AS for disasters for the class – well the class has been facing disaster for a long time – particularly since 2008 – the re-election of the Tories and the election of Macron will be more of the same – not some new and impending disaster. And I absolutely disagree with your suggestion of a ‘solidifying pro-EU sentiment’ – there is a complex set of attitudes prevalent – one an anti-EU, anti-neo-liberal attitude that in part is manifest with support for the far right but is more pronounced in people not engaging with existing parliamentary politics – and one an anti-xenophobic sentiment which is manifest not in support for the neo-liberal policies of the EU or the EU itself, but a rejection of the little Englander and other nationalist sentiments. When a radical anti-austerity left programme is agitated for both of these attitudes can be and are being cut across.

No one is suggesting that the situation hasn’t been grim before. What is being suggested is that this is a further catastrophic slide downwards. How could it be otherwise when the main organisation of the left, however soft, takes such a dismal hit and particularly when it has tilted somewhat leftwards in recent times and the hopes that accompanied that have been dashed.

As to the EU stuff. Well you’re welcome to try to parse out this in the way you do, inspecting the entrails in the hope of finding something useful – I actually don’t understand the fixation of trying to find a ‘progressive’ hue to the Brexit vote because there’s so little utility even if one finds a likely small tranche of folk that way inclined since most traditional LP voters voted Remain. Living in the margins may be of comfort to some but it’s no way to build a genuine resistance and opposition to austerity and the Tories – particularly in a FPTP environment.

But another basic fundamental flaw in your analysis is that you again apparently do not understand how Brexit and (almost certainly) other possible EU exits function for the left. The right can rally around the nation. The left is split between those who try that, and those who disagree. Brexit has caused a cleavage on the left and more importantly in a way amongst those who traditionally vote for the left. It has delivered previously left and BLP voters into the Tories. It hasn’t functioned on that way for the right where rivals to the Tories have been supplanted (i.e. UKIP).

And again you ignore the fact that those who have agitated on that radical anti-austrety left programme at local level have been all but ignored. What basis do you have for believing that in the changed context of Brexit that sort of approach would work if scaled up? Who would it appeal to when the question in British politics is Brexit and pretty much Brexit alone? Again, you’re fighting the last war. Things have moved on.

Last point – Paddy Healy has spent decades shouting and screaming at everyone on the left – copious amounts of emails and internet postings – that the left is a disaster and that everyone is wrong except him. He can do this all he wants but deserves to be called out on it.

Healer heal thyself. He has every right to critique or criticise parts of the left, so do you, so do I, he has a track record of activism and whether one agrees with him or not he deserves an awful lot better than your personalised and insulting approach. You disagree with him, fine, knock yourself out, but there is no place for the latter. That’s the key distinction. Your behaviours, not your analysis – however wrong, are fundamentally the issue here. And part of that is your inability to see you are in no position to set yourself up as self-appointed judge and jury in relation to PH. Or anyone.

He has no clue what is happening on the ground with the left in Britain (and the rest of Europe) and neither do most on here. The advantage of being part of an international organisation is that you get feedback from people actually involved in struggle – not reading the right-wing media, looking at election results and then thinking you can add 2+2.

What does that last even mean in between the condescension, bombast and blindness? There are many of us here who are or have been linked to groups with an international face, or have been involved directly in UK politics (and why should Paddy be any different at that?). And why would you assume that people just read right-wing media and take their cues from that? It’s a remarkably simplistic assumption.

Though the question does arise why wouldn’t one look at election results to indicate the material basis for a political endeavour. I’m stumped as to why that would be somehow a bad thing. Yet you’re seriously proposing that rather than examining and analysing the actual force at work in a given political context we should be… well… what? Deploying the empty rhetoric of ‘potential’ and so on.

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25. roddy - May 6, 2017

Until recently the SWP were “sound” on the national question.The SP were always neo unionists.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 6, 2017

What you actually mean is that up until recently the SWP supported the Provos – and the Socialist Party refused to support the blind- alley of paramilitarism.

And remind me again who happily hopped into bed with the reactionary bigots of the DUP.

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26. Garibaldy - May 7, 2017

The Communist Party of Britain candidate for Mayor in the West Midlands got 5700 votes, just over 1%

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Midlands_mayoral_election,_2017#Results

As for the general election and what looks extremely likely to be the Tories forthcoming landslide. Brexit is important, but there’s a lot more than that going on. The Tory result in Scotland is indicative of that, as are the fact that the Tories have been winning at parliamentary, mayoral, and local elections in areas that have been regarded as Labour heartlands, especially in the north of England.

Then there is the fact that Labour has been losing ground to other parties as well in heartland areas. It seems a lot of the issues surrounding this election focus on problems within the Labour Party itself. Broadly speaking, I would have thought that the overwhelming majority of Labour councillors are to the left of the MPs but it hasn’t done them much good. The question is whether the local elections point to a Corbyn-led Labour Party not being able to mobilise even the core vote he is claimed by his supporters to be re-energising.

Labour are starting to look a lot like the Tories in the 10 years or so after 1997. It didn’t really matter who was leading, the electorate was so hostile, and the Party itself in such disarray and with such low morale. It’s pretty conceivable that the Tories were going to convincingly win the next election regardless of Brexit.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 7, 2017

No – the overwhelming majority of LP councillors are Blairites – and the most right-wing form of Blairites. A few hundred out of several thousand LP councillors backed Corbyn for leader and large swathes of the Blairite councillors have been demanding that Corbyn take a ‘hard line’ on immigration.

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Whowearsshortshorts - May 8, 2017

And what may I ask is wrong with having appropriate controls on immigration?

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27. Paddy Healy - May 7, 2017

Political parties based on the workers movement are in deep crisis world wide. The growing crisis of capitalism has progressivelyremoved the space for social democracy, leading to splits and marginalisation. Since the demise of the Soviet Union (and even before-(“Euros”etc), Communist parties have gone their own political ways. There are now CPs of many political colorations from the social democratic to the extremely ultra-left. There seems to be 10 organisations with ” Communist” in the title in Great Britain alone(excluding Maoists). Trotsky’s Fourth international has literally been in bits since his assasination. The 57 varieties mentioned earlier may be an underestimate to-day if one includes the entire planet. There seems to be 15 organisations claiming to be Trotskyist in Great Britain alone. We are a long way from the First International of Karl Marx and the unifying Communist Manifesto.

In a developing economic and political crisis small groups can attain significant political importance in individual countries however temporary this may be.. This is happening to-day. Let us put aside social democracy and mass parties for another discussion.
Most small political groups degenerate into sects or cults. Despite the presence in them of well meaning and self-sacrificing individuals they are commonly driven by competition with other sects for recruits. They tend to believe that they alone have the Marxist holy grail. They live in their own bubble.
The requirements to bring forward the general political workers struggle comes second to the recruitment needs of the sect
It is very difficult to have a useful disussion with them. Any idea coming from outsde the sect is usually dismissed.
THIS MUST STOP.
Let us have discussions on the basis that others, even rivals or competitors, are in good faith.
The rise of the far right world wide means we may not have much time left to correct the undoubted mistakes we all have made!!

Let us hope that this current discussion will mark a new beginning

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28. Jolly Red Giant - May 7, 2017

Paddy – Would one of these degenerate sects/cults be the League for a Workers Republic.

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Paddy Healy - May 8, 2017

I only reply to this because your responses prove my case.
Common Responses of Sects
Any contribution which differs with the assessment of the sect or elements of its analysis is not entertained. Typically it is dismissed as “Claptrap” or concocted to serve an agenda hostile to the sect. As I said ,it lives in it’s own bubble.
Criticisms by other sects are commonly met with the response-your sect is at least as bad. The typical adversarial bab about the LWR comes into this category.
The task of socialist revolutionaries is to replace the capitulatory leaderships of the working class at the international and national level with a revoulutionary anti-capitalist l
After the LWR was founded, I approached the main Trotskyist groups in the UK- Gran/Taafet (MiliTant-SP), Tony Cliff (IS-SWP), Gerry Healy(SLL-WRP). After many sad experiences in which the interest of the sect were placed ahead of the principal task, we rejected the British Based Sects and international groupings. We then aproached French Groups and ended up aligned to the PCI(Lambertistes). Things went all-right for a few years. THe PCI was helpful in seeking support for the hunger-strikers in Europe. But inevitably the sect interest of the PCI began to come ahead of the principal task.
At that stage, I and my co-thinkers concluded that the system of sects internationally, each claiming to be “bolshevik nuclei”, not just each sect, was counter-productive to the main task. Any new grouping which emerges is immediately identified as a new enemy or rival and is prioritised for attack. The new group retaliates and is increasingly driven down the road of becoming just another sect!
I gave up that approach because it was clearly counter-productive to the task of socialist revolutionaries towards replacing the capitulatory leaderships of the working class at the international and national level with a revoulutionary anti-capitalist leaderships.

The responses of JRG on this blog are among the worst examples of the destructive approach of the self-aggrandising sects.

I do not claim that the following is the main source of the problem but it is a concern. If a political group in a big western democratic country has 5000 members and it is collecting double a teacher’s union dues from each on average, it has a considerable income but no obligation to provide for strike Pay! If there is no threat of jailing or assassination, as under dictatorships, it can lead to a very comfortable existence for “leaders” .” Bolshevik discipline” can then be used by the leaders to protect themselves from internal criticism and expulsions are common.

The SLL-WRP debacle is an extreme example of this syndrome.

But many leaders are self-sacrificing and lead a monk-like existence. They are just trapped in fanatical dedication to the sect. They identify the interests of the sect and of the socialist revolution as being the same thing! So anything done in defence of the sect is justified

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Jolly Red Giant - May 8, 2017

It sounds like you are a bit jealous in missing out on your gravy train Paddy.

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Paddy Healy - May 8, 2017

As I predicted, there is no point in continuing a conversation with cult followers.

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29. Jolly Red Giant - May 8, 2017

And for those who think the Blairites have reigned things in during the election – this is from tomorrows Telegraph

“John McDonnell faces a Labour revolt to unseat him as shadow chancellor after he said there was “a lot to learn” from Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.”

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ivorthorne - May 8, 2017

Even a Tory could “get away” with saying something so bloody obvious.

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30. Jolly Red Giant - May 9, 2017

Latest attack by the Blairites – 100 Blairite MPs are threatening to split from the LP – after the election – if Corbyn doesn’t resign.

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WorldbyStorm - May 10, 2017

I see that’s from a piece in the Telegraph and carried by the Express. I’d wait until we get a lot firmer detail before pushing it about. For a start it is precisely the sort of negative story that the Tories would delight in having put about whether accurate or not because it plays to a narrative of disunity in the BLP.

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Jolly Red Giant - May 10, 2017

The Blairites have been planning this since the last attempt to shaft Corbyn – it is not like the Telegraph made it up. They are waiting to use their position as LP MPs to get re-elected before they split from the LP (assuming they can’t gut Corbyn). The latest plan is to resign the LP whip and sit as independents until Corbyn is forced out – and a new ‘leader’ is also being lined up (with Cooper the fav).

The antics of the Blairites was again demonstrated when Burnham didn’t turn up to a rally in Manchester after he was elected mayor.

Last point of note – a new opinion poll has suggested that Corbyn has cut the Tory lead by 8 points.

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WorldbyStorm - May 10, 2017

I don’t know if it is made up or not – and obviously significant portions of the lp right want shot of Corbyn, but I can’t think of a more uniquely unhelpful contribution than posting up rumours which functionally serve to weaken the LP as if they’re statements of incontrovertible fact and until some of the supposed 100 break cover and go public I would think it best not to make a y great noise about it. Re the poll that would be Kantners poll which saw the LP rise from 24 to 28 % and Tories drop from 48 to 44%. The first figures were out of line with almost all other polls with the lp 4% lower than other polls, the second are broadly in line with most polls. Not a lot to see there I’m afraid.

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Ed - May 10, 2017

My best guess for that story is that the Telegraph’s ‘source’ is one or maybe a handful of the most vehemently anti-Corbyn Labour MPs who were flying a kite (and trying to throw a spanner in the works of Labour’s election campaign). They’re talking about what they would like to happen in the hope that it becomes a reality.

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WorldbyStorm - May 10, 2017

+1 Ed. No oxygen of publicity for them!

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Ed - May 10, 2017

Not that Corbyn has ever had many solid supporters in the PLP, but it’s remarkable how many of the ‘Labour MP/Labour source attacks Corbyn’ stories from the last 18 months have come from a small handful of people: Neil Coyle, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, Ian Austin, Michael Dugher, Simon Danzcuk and a few others. They’re the ones who are quoted on the record time and time again slagging off their own party, and presumably they’re the source of 90% of the ‘a Labour source said’ off-the-record briefings.

Matt Zarb Cousin, who worked for Corbyn’s press office until very recently and was by all accounts very good at his job (all the Westminster correspondents agreed), has said that he often had to field 80-100 calls a day from journalists, and most of it was rebutting spurious claims from this tiny group of malcontents, or fictitious accounts of meetings that should have been private. The very same people would then moan and whinge about Labour’s press team not being effective, when so much of their time was taken up with putting out fires started by this crew. In any normal political culture, people like Streeting and Austin should be a laughing stock, but they’re treated with the utmost respect because they perform a useful job.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/04/jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may-media-general-election-labour

In this case, the story just seems completely implausible: with all that’s going on right now, how could you organize a caucus of 100 Labour MPs to talk about what they would do in a month’s time and agree on a strategy? My assumption right now is that even if Labour loses heavily, and even if Corbyn refuses to resign straight away, most people on the Labour right will be very reluctant to split away except as an absolute last resort; the Labour name and assets are pretty valuable after all, it makes far more sense to dig in for a few months at least to try and get hold of the party machine.

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irishelectionliterature - May 10, 2017

Surely these malcontents are malcontenting themselves out of jobs. The more they spout nonsense re Corbyn and co to the papers…. the less likely they are to hold their seats

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Ed - May 10, 2017

You’d like to think so but … take Neil Coyle for example (very nearly my local MP—he’s in the constituency next to mine and most of the local effort is going into canvassing for him since it’s a Labour-Lib Dem marginal that Labour only won in 2015). Two days before the election was called, he was on page 2 of the Sun, denouncing the entire shadow cabinet on some trumped-up pretext. Granted he didn’t know the election was going to be called two days later, but he had to know it was possible that there could be a snap election in the near future, various rumours floating around, etc. The mule-headed stupidity of these people just beggars belief.

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