Thursday, 30 September 2021

Second hand clothing, swearing & biology


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Like most people I've got used to reading some of the bollocks these weirdo uber "woke types come up with but there seems to be no limits to their incestuous crap. Kent University has come up with a so-called "Diversity" test which has to be learn't "rote" style. No questions, no discussion, no deviations,: The Times (no link£) reported:

The University has told every student, regardless of the subject they study to complete the four-hour online course which covers.... white privilege, microaggressions and preferred pronouns.

This  bullshit apparently includes asking students which societal benefits white people get from 13 options. I don't suppose these tossers ever thought to include class but I simply point out just one major flaw. Referring to experiences of "some people" white privilege the quiz includes the question:

I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals or, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

No laughing at the back these wankers are serious and if you are at Edinburgh University lecturers were issues with guidance on how to address the tranny's and the other ever growing list of convoluted self -indulgent genders including a list of "micro insults" that should be avoided.

As we all have discovered these individuals think anything they don't like or approve of is discriminatory as they tread over women's rights not giving a shit about anybody but themselves. Micro-insult. Prefer macro-one's myself. Will cunt do?

Meanwhile after being told by Angela Rayner and even sadly Keir Starmer that it's "wrong to say only women have a cervix" David Lammy has waded in to the debate with his high level of scientific knowledge and tells us that:

It's probably the case that trans-women don't have ovaries but a cervix I understand is something you can have following various procedures and hormone treatments.

Sorry mate that's an "F" for biology. Labour tell us education is safe with them but not on that subject where ideology, wishful thing and fakery take priority.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Keir Starmer made a good speech but the party still needs major reform

After a week of nothing but mischief making by the hard left Keir Starmer did need to make a good speech today and in that he mostly succeeded even getting a minor "Kinnock moment" with his comment responding to heckler's by saying"shouting slogans or changing lives, conference?"

The conference floor became his as even some opponents realised that a show of at least some decorum was necessary if there was to be a party left to challenge the Tories with. However despite this reflecting on the weeks events shows that this is only the beginning of a long fight to reclaim the party.

Conference began badly with the news that Rosie Duffield was not attending because of threats and abuse from extremists within the trans and gender politics community. Last time it was Jewish MP Luciana Berger threatened by the antisemites of the anti-Zionist movement. 

Whilst Starmer has helped roll back the obvious antisemites including the scroats of the so-called Jewish Voice for Labour group one of whom had to be removed by the police earlier this week his decision to fall for the ideological nonsense of the trans movement has helped make the party less safe for women. 

Supporting the absurdist position of the trans movement by stating it's wrong to say "only women have a cervix" has encouraged the tetesterone fuelled misogynists of the gender movement. Labour Women's Declaration was forced to hold it's conference fringe meeting in secret because last time it was attacked by over-privlaged activists and their supporters. 

Meanwhile the JVL fringe meeting (oddly advertised in the Conference guide when it's not even affiliated) brought the party into disrepute when an LBC journalist was assaulted and pushed out of the room by expelled member Tony Greenstein a with the assistance of other supporters of this hate group.

Conference also went on to pass the most extreme anti-Israel motion which bodes ill for Louise Ellman's decision that the Labour Party is safe for Jews to return to.

While Starmer was able to get through some reforms the hard left are still strong enough to prevent further necessary reform and the leadership needs to concentrate on ridding the party of those individuals and elements that hold it back.

The departure of the hard-left Bakers union was a pre-planned stunt to embarrass Keir Starmer though one wonders whether the actual members support this since there was no ballot. However it has the effect of weakening the hard left inside Labour.

Labour needs to reform itself into a modern mainstream social democratic party but so much ideological baggage still holds the party has a long way to go before it will be ready for government. Given the events at this conference that is unlikely to happen before the next election. The hard left have proved they a stubborn satin to remove.

Hopefully Starmer will be the man to clean the party up in the long term....providing he remembers women's rights in future. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Labour To Win Statement to Conference


Our umbrella organisation, Labour to Win, has released this statement on Labour Party rules changes, 23 September 2021.

This weekend is crucial for Labour’s long-term future as a serious party of government. As Keir Starmer sets out his stall to put hard-working families and their priorities at the heart of his programme, the party has an opportunity to reconnect with voters and repair the damage done by four election defeats.

The priorities of party members will never tightly align with those of the wider electorate. But Labour has allowed the voices of a passionate few to drown out those of their friends, colleagues and neighbours for far too long – and at far too high a price. We must reset our relationship with the public, encourage greater parity between the constituent parts of the Labour movement, and free-up the Leader and frontbench to make the case for a Labour government instead of getting bogged down in endless internal debates.

Labour to Win fully supports the package of party reforms being put forward to the Labour Party NEC for debate at the Labour Party conference:
  • The reform of leadership election rules - increasing the nomination threshold to get onto the ballot and resetting the freeze date for voting members to six months’ membership. The registered supporters’ scheme will also be abolished – renewing the primacy of members’ role in the process.
  • The restoration of the trigger process so that MPs need to win the support of half of all branches (CLP and affiliates). The current rules are undemocratic as they allow for one-third of branches to outvote the remaining two-thirds and force a full reselection process. As a result, MPs are forced to spend a disproportionate amount of time talking to party members at the expense of talking to voters.
  • A reduction in the number of topics debated at conference from 20 to a much more manageable number where deeper, more meaningful debate can be focused.
Passing these reforms would be an important symbol that Labour is ready to reconnect with the public. We ask all delegates to Labour Party conference to back these reforms – and help put Labour back on the path to power.

It's not just Rosie Duffleld. Women under threat.


Labour conference under a cloud as once again a woman MP is unable to attend due to threats from trans-activists and/or their allies. It's the continuation of a testosterone fuelled campaign against biological women by the trans and navel gazing gender movement.

Although not a new story a group of women are fighting their student union in Bristol for their right to hold women only meetings.

Women Talk Back! Statement on the Bristol SU

Women Talk Back! was created as a forum where women can discuss issues relating to our experiences of being female under patriarchy. Our consciousness-raising meetings scrutinise women’s experiences to generate a wider structural analysis of the status of women. This, in itself, could be a challenging endeavour for some of the women attending as they might not have otherwise spoken of the male violence (such as rape, domestic abuse and sexual harassment) they have experienced before joining us.

Our attendees have repeatedly stressed how important it is that we protect their rights to privacy, safety and dignity when discussing such sensitive matters. Therefore, when affiliating in 2018 to the Bristol SU, we consulted with discrimination lawyers to help us explain why we utilise the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act 2010. These exceptions state that groups are allowed to be women-only when this is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Over the past three years, Women Talk Back! has explained multiple times to the Bristol SU that our priority is protecting our members’ right to safety, dignity and privacy, and that they have stated the group would not work for them if it was mixed-sex. Therefore, to have our consciousness-raising meetings women-only represents a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim, in accordance with the law. We welcome the fact that there are hundreds of student societies open to everyone, including another feminism-themed one, inside the University of Bristol but we proudly centre women’s lives and experiences in ours.

Since our inception we have experienced resistance, rejection and attempts to infringe on our right to single-sex spaces from the Bristol SU. After we became affiliated, Bristol SU changed their policy to include "gender identity" into their Bylaws in 2019, so it now states: "No Club or Society can put in place any Membership requirements that discriminate against any Member as a result of their ... gender identity." Our membership was restricted to women, as a sex and as defined in the Equality Act. There is no legal definition of "gender identity." Single-sex spaces are legally allowed to operate on the basis of sex, not "gender identity" since this concept doesn't exist in any law.

The Bristol SU defines ‘women’ to mean:

“All who self define as women, including (if they wish) those with complex gender identities that include 'woman', and those who experience oppression as women.”

This definition is not in accordance with UK law. The Equality Act 2010 defines “sex” as meaning “man or woman”. “Man” is defined as “a male of any age” and “woman” as “a female of any age”. Neither “gender” nor “gender identity” are protected characteristics under the Act. There is no definition of the word ‘men’ in the Bristol SU bylaws.

Incident on 1 March 2020

On the evening of 1st March 2020, Women Talk Back! held a consciousness-raising meeting titled ‘Boundaries and Feminism’. A couple of student trans activists, including a self-identifying transwoman, turned up to the session. The male student admitted being aware that Women Talk Back! operates under the single-sex exemptions of the Equality Act 2010, but said they thought that by showing up in person and “being nice” to us, they could violate our boundaries.

We recognised these student trans activists from their previous targeting, from 2018 onwards, of some of our larger public events, and their targeting of feminist events hosted by other student societies. This targeting included an occasion, reported in the local press, when the male trans activist student demanding access to our women-only space had to be removed by security after hijacking a meeting. You can observe the sustained pattern of unacceptable behaviour trans activist students are encouraged by the University of Bristol and the Bristol SU to inflict on feminist students on campus on this Mumsnet thread.

The President of our student society reiterated that it is legal to hold women-only meetings in order to benefit women. They refused to accept that and this instigated a 45-minute standoff between our President and the student trans activists, in which she had to continuously repeat the aforementioned point. As retaliation for establishing and maintaining our boundaries, they reported us to the Bristol SU claiming that women saying “no” constituted “extremely harmful psychological injury.”

Following the 1 March 2020 incident, the Bristol SU retroactively claimed that we were never single-sex to begin with. They opened an investigation and Women Talk Back! provided three witness statements (aside from our President’s separate account) from women who were present that night. We detailed the intimidating and forceful nature of this incident and how we felt we were being threatened into weakening our boundaries for fear of retaliation from student trans activists. The result of this investigation was that the Bristol SU validated the trans activists’ account and sanctioned us. The Student Union ordered:

Mandatory “diversity and inclusion” training regarding accepting males into our single-sex female space

Our President, Raquel Rosario Sánchez, must step down from her role and cannot run as a committee member on any other society’s committee for two years

The group is not allowed to be female-only and we must make it clear on our social media pages and our page on the SU website that our group is ‘open to everyone’

We want to be clear, particularly to young women who might be intimidated by peer pressure, that all women have a right to say “no” and refuse the coercive tactics of any male who makes them feel intimidated or threatened, which are sentiments that we all felt that night. We also want to stress that no amount of emotional manipulation, blackmail or institutional coercion justifies the erosion of women’s boundaries around ourselves.

It is important to note that at the time this incident and subsequent sanctions were imposed on us, the Women Talk Back! leadership was entirely made of international students from Latin America and the Caribbean. Why should it fall on immigrant women within UK academic institutions to uphold UK law?

No woman should ever have to spend 45 minutes repeatedly asserting her boundaries when dealing with a male person who refuses to take the word “no” for an answer, as Raquel did that night in March 2020. No group of female students should ever be punished and coerced into weakening our legally protected boundaries as retaliation, as is happening to us in March 2021.

These are not lessons women should be taught in academia.

Our Stance

We stand with Raquel. We will not request her resignation. She will remain in the post as President until we, collectively, decide otherwise. We will not submit to any training that seeks to coerce us into ignoring the legal rights that protect us. We will continue holding our consciousness-raising meetings online, and expect to hold our in-person public feminist events as soon as it is safe for all of us. We look forward to seeing you at our next public event.

Women Talk Back! has spent the past three years cooperating amicably and in good faith with the Bristol SU. We are saddened and disappointed to have reached this point in our relationship. We are carefully considering our options, while being mindful that the treatment we have received is unacceptable, and this issue is about protecting women’s right to freedom of speech, freedom of association and the single sex exemptions in the Equality Act 2010.

They need your help and are currently fundraising:

Go to:

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Jewish Labour Movement Rally for Party Conference


The Jewish Labour Movement has announced the details of it's Rally at the Labour Party Conference. This is an important meeting after the battle against antisemitism in the Labour Party has at last been engaged on seriously by the Party leadership.

If you are attending Conference please come along and support the JLM which is one of the Labour Party's oldest affiliates since 1920.

We're delighted to invite you to the JLM Rally at Labour Party Conference on Sunday 26 September at 7pm.

We have an excellent line-up of speakers - some familiar and some new - as we look to the future and forge a new relationship between the Jewish community and the Labour Party.

Our speakers will include:

Margaret Hodge MP - JLM Parliamentary Chair and MP for Barking

Ruth Smeeth - JLM Vice Chair and former MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove

Cllr Georgia Gould - Leader of Camden Council

Anas Sarwar MSP - Leader of Scottish Labour

Gary Smith - General Secretary of GMB Union

Cllr Sara Conway - Barnet Labour councillor

Register for the JLM Rally

This is going to be an incredibly important conference for JLM as the new disciplinary process, mandated by the EHRC, will be voted on by delegates. We will keep our members informed and up to date about the progress of this rule change and what it will mean and how to follow along with the debate.

Mike Katz

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Preparing for Labour Conference: Look To Norway


Second in a series of posts covering Labour Party Conference from around the fringe as the media will cover the main event. Today we start with a meeting on-line that anyone can. All you need to do is register.

With last week's news of a historic win for Labour's sister party in Norway, and Labour Party Conference coming up at the end of this week, we are looking ahead at what it takes to win.

You are invited to join us this Wednesday (22nd September) lunchtime, 13:30, on Zoom to hear from one of their Parliamentary candidates on the campaign. We will be discussing how we can learn from Norway's Labour Party and their policies, platform and campaign. We will also compare the political process in Norway and the UK, and look to the future of Norway under social democratic principles.

Please RSVP:

Monday, 20 September 2021

Labour Party NEC Reports: Luke Akehurst & Ann Black


As has become a usual feature on this blog I am publishing two reports from members of the Labour NEC. Whilst I stand with Luke Akehurst politically it's always useful to have a different viewpoint and also present Ann Black's report as she belongs to what I consider the "traditional" left of the Party.

I am disappointed with Ann for not supporting the removal of the entryist group Socialist Appeal. Small and inffective as it may be it would send the right message not just to the parasitical groups hiding inside the Labour Party in one form or another but would also show the public Labour is clearing out the extremists. This is a necessary move if the party is to be electable once more.

Luke Akehurst writes: 

(Please note I have highlighted some areas of personal concern in Luke's report to draw them to the readers attention)

The September NEC is always focussed on Annual Conference business. Whilst it was another long meeting, seven hours, it was curiously muted compared to recent meetings.

The meeting opened with a report on arrangements for conference from the Chair of the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC), Harry Donaldson. He said:

· CAC has agreed which motions are valid. 330 met the criteria (covering one subject only, under 250 words long and about policy, not organisation) out of 375 submitted.

· There are 50 subject areas that will go forward to the Priority Ballot, which decides which ones get debated.

· Reference Backs on National Policy Forum (NPF) reports have been submitted in writing and will be published in the CAC reports.

· The Emergency Resolutions deadline is noon on 23 September.

· 1179 CLP delegates and 259 from affiliated organisations have registered but some may drop out or fail passport checks.

· A total of 7,000 people will attend conference.

· There are at least 350 fringe events and 84 exhibitors.

· The Business Forum has raised £110,000 in income from business visitors, and a further £143,500 has been raised in sponsorship.

We then moved on to the main business of the meeting, agreeing our position on possible rule changes to be debated at Annual Conference.  was somewhat bemused by Momentum voting against even anodyne rule changes to tidy up things like deleting references to MEPs and the EPLP, despite the votes on rules they had indicated they found contentious being taken separately. IRule changes on toughening our stance towards members who litigate against the party were held over until the meeting on Friday 24 September for further consultation. Amendments from the floor saw the right of administratively suspended members to vote in OMOV ballots retained, and the number of officers of a Local Government Committee increased to 4 so that there is a quota of 2 women.

The new (not tabled at the July meeting) batch of non-contentious rule changes passed with 19 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

A second batch of rule changes relate to the new independent disciplinary process for cases relating to protected characteristics, required by the EHRC Report. This was passed with 18 For, 8 Against, 1 Abstention. I was really disappointed that eight colleagues would vote against a change that is a legal requirement following the investigation into antisemitism.

The third batch of non-contentious changes already noted by the NEC in July passed 19 For, 4 Against, 3 Abstentions.

A rule change to codify STV (Single Transferable Vote) as the voting system for the ballot for the nine CLP reps on the NEC passed with 16 For, 8 Against, 3 Abstentions.

A consequent rule change to abolish NEC by-elections in the CLP section, as you can now just recount the previous STV ballot without the member who has stood down, was passed with 17 For, 9 Against, 3 Abstentions.

A rule change that prevents CLPs from affiliating to external organisations without NEC approval was passed with 19 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

A rule change to place the longstanding practice of the General Secretary’s power to reject membership applications during the eight-week probationary period on a contractual/rule-based footing was passed with 17 For, 9 Against, 1 Abstention.

An extensive rewrite of the membership rules to improve the processes around auto-exclusions, including giving those expelled under this process a right to appeal for the first time, was then debated, and at this point the meeting became a bit more tense. Questions were asked about the implementation of the July NEC’s decision to proscribe four organisations. This decision could not be revisited as we have a three-month rule – you can’t reopen NEC decisions until three months after they have been taken. The General Secretary said that he refuted that the proscriptions were being implemented factionally. I argued and the General Secretary agreed that proscriptions had to be applied retrospectively to evidence of support for an organisation before it was proscribed to have any meaning. We were informed that in contrast to the noise about them being generated on social media, only 57 letters had been sent to members alleging they supported proscribed organisations, and only 5 people had been expelled. Letters are not generated automatically, complaints come in and are then assessed, in 10 cases complaints have been dismissed and not proceeded with. Members accused of support for a proscribed organisation have an opportunity to refute the allegations.

There was a proposal to defer this rule change. It was defeated by 16 votes to 11.

Ann Black proposed an amendment to remove the retrospective nature of the proscriptions. This was defeated by 18 votes to 10.

The paper itself was passed by 20 votes to 9.

We then looked at rule changes submitted by CLPs and determined the NEC’s attitude to each one.

We agreed to ask Oxford East CLP to remit their proposal regarding BAME quotas on Council Cabinets in favour of an NEC alternative which would be more tightly worded for legal reasons.

A proposal for Annual Conference to have sovereignty over disciplinary decisions of the PLP Chief Whip was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

A proposal to elect the General Secretary in an OMOV ballot was defeated by 19 votes to 7 with 1 abstention.

A proposal to allow rule changes that are similar to a previous one to be considered after less than the current three-year rule was defeated by 17 votes to 7.

A proposal about members having absolute rights to free speech was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

A proposal to use STV in the elections for every section of the NEC except the union and socialist society ones was defeated by 16 votes to 9. The argument against this is that STV in blocks of 5 or fewer seats does not produce proportional results.

A proposal to give CLP EC’s more power over by-election selections and last-minute parliamentary selections was defeated by 18 votes to 9.

A proposal to give a minimum seven-day window to apply for parliamentary selections was defeated by 17 votes to 8. Sometimes the election timetable doesn’t allow this much time.

A proposal for spending limits in leadership ballots to be in the rule book rather than decided at the start of each election was defeated by 17 votes to 8.

A proposal to limit donations from any person or organisation other than affiliates to the party was defeated without being put to a vote, as this would present an existential threat to our funding, including ending £7.7m of Government grants via “Short Money” etc. I spoke on this item and urged that we should celebrate individual high value donors giving as much as they can afford to Labour, rather than make negative assumptions about their motives.

Keir then gave his Leader’s report, covering his visits round the country to speak to people who had stopped voting Labour, the Afghanistan crisis, the Workplace Taskforce policy announcements, and preparations for Annual Conference. He said he wants a benefits system that works much better than Universal Credit, which unfairly takes 75p from the first additional £1 you earn. On Social Care he said Labour’s policy stance is to:

· Prevent people going into care homes for as long as possible.

· Have a Home First principle.

· Give the workforce proper terms and conditions and job security.

· Have those with the broadest shoulders (people with income from property, dividends, stocks and shares) pay, not working people.

Keir refuted as nonsense allegations that Marsha De Cordova had resigned as Shadow Equalities Minister over lack of progress on racial justice policies.

He said Annual Conference was the first opportunity to look beyond the Covid crisis at what kind of future we wanted, one where we deal with the inequalities exposed by Covid and tackle the climate crisis.

On disciplinary cases he said he was in a fight to rid Labour of antisemitism, not a fight against any section of the party.

After Keir’s report I was delighted that we unanimously approved new national structures for Disabled Members and Labour Students. I served on both NEC working groups, as a disabled member of the NEC and a former National Secretary of Labour Students, and it was really good that in both cases a consensus was reached. I thanked Angela Rayner for her and her team urging a compromise national committee structure for the new Labour Students organisation, which had helped ensure a consensus was reached.

Angela’s Deputy Leader’s report focused on the way the Tories are making things tougher for ordinary people through the National Insurance hike and Universal Credit cuts. She praised union involvement in the Workplace Taskforce. Asked about party unity she said we all need to accept everyone in the party is motivated by wanting to change the country for the better. When we can’t reach consensus, we need to consider whether the action or policy we are backing will help get Labour into power.

David Evans gave his General Secretary’s report. He said the restructuring process within the party was halfway through. The voluntary redundancy scheme for staff had been closed. More that 100 staff had applied but some were in key roles, so their departure had not been agreed. The process was paused while leavers were being supported. A full financial review after conference would determine the next stage. The gap between the savings from voluntary redundancies and the £5.5m savings target was narrow enough that he had assured the staff unions that there would be no need for compulsory redundancies as it could be bridged through reducing non-staff costs, managing vacancies and raising income. Support for Young Labour would be in the new staff structure.

On the Forde Report he said the party was now expecting to be given the two sections that could be published in late October or November. He said the issuing of a Notice of Investigation (NOI) to the Chair of Young Labour had been due to an error, and a full review had revealed it was because of processes not being followed properly. There was a backlog of 5,200 outstanding complaints being worked through. The Executive Director of Legal Affairs, Alex Barros-Curtis, said that the process of going through the backlog would take 6 months and was in its 7th week. External additional staff had been trained in Labour’s rules and processes to do this. 3,000 cases had been assessed so far, of which 30% had been closed at assessment stage as they did not merit investigation. The NOI to Jess Barnard had not been signed off properly but it was an innocent mistake by the person concerned. The tone of letters had been amended and staff reminded never to send them outside office hours.

Alex Barros-Curtis was asked about the new submission to the EHRC from Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), who have claimed Labour has disproportionally expelled Jewish members. He said the party utterly refutes the submission made JVL: “Particularly that we disproportionately target them, and also that we ignore any complaints we have of theirs. Indeed, those complaints are actually in the backlog - so will be dealt with as part of the clearance project, which will mean these are resolved as swiftly as possible.”

The meeting closed with swift agreement of a series of reports on the Business Board, Women’s Conference, Sexual Harassment Procedures & Code of Conduct, and the National Policy Forum and Joint Policy Committee.


Ann Black Writes:

(Please Note: I remain concerned about the "code of conduct regarding so-called "transphobia" being seemingly discussed with the LGBT group but no mention of women's groups.)

The meeting again rapidly deviated from the timings on the agenda, and rather than finishing at 4 p.m. we eventually stopped at 7 p.m. Contrary to what newer members were told, NEC meetings do not have to be interminable, and less than five hours used to be normal. Endurance tests are bad for representatives, for staff and for the quality of decision-making.

The NEC welcomed Harry Donaldson, chair of the conference arrangements committee. He reported that 375 motions had been received, of which 330 met the criteria and were grouped into 50 topics for the priorities ballot. So far 1,179 delegates from CLPs and 259 from affiliates were registered. There would be 250+ fringe events and 98% of the exhibition space had been sold. Harry explained Covid-related measures and though not mandatory he hoped that everyone would wear masks except when speaking.

The Rules of the Game

We moved on to consider nearly 100 pages of rule changes, and I appreciate the time taken by staff to clarify details with NEC members before the meeting. Some are still work in progress and the NEC will make final decisions on the evening of Friday 24 September, so delegates will need to read fast. Many NEC proposals are tidying up, deleting (sadly) references to MEPs and replacing Welsh Assembly with Welsh Parliament. Also the rulebook will now reflect the right of Labour International members to pay concessionary subscription rates on the same basis as UK-based members.

Others are sensible, for instance allowing priorities ballots before conference so that compositing can be planned in advance. Allowing assistant conference chairs to come from any section of the NEC simply reflects longstanding practice. Waiving the 12-month membership requirement for council candidates would again be delegated to regional directors. And a proposal to withdraw even the right to vote from suspended members was dropped amid general opposition. When people are barred from all party activity for many months they should at least be able to cast an occasional online ballot in exchange for their £53.

Moving to local government committees (LGCs), the current rules say that at least 50% of the three officers (chair, vice-chair and secretary) must be women. Taken literally this means at least two, but we were told that specifying either one or two might be legally problematic. The ingenious solution was to add a second vice-chair, so that two of the four officers must be women. The NEC rightly agreed to add up to two Co-operative Party delegates, but the rules are now inconsistent because they still say that membership will be in three sections (CLPs, trade unions and councillors) each holding one-third of the votes. Sorting out the fudge would be deferred till someone devises a solution or till the end of time, whichever is sooner.

Some queried the “probationary period of provisional membership” and the general secretary’s ability to reject a member during their first eight weeks. This already happens, and CLPs can also object. Although the use of “provisional” alongside “probationary” is a bit confusing, this was carried 17 for, 9 against, 1 abstention. All the rest of the first batch was carried 19 for, 9 against, 1 abstention.

Following the Plan

The second batch implemented the new independent disciplinary procedures agreed at the last meeting, and includes a requirement for all candidates for public office or internal party positions to agree to undertake training, for instance on equality and diversity. It was clarified that the EHRC (equality and human rights commission) action plan allows current processes to continue until the end of 2021 while the new structures are being set up. This section was agreed with 18 for, 8 against and 1 abstention.

The third batch contained proposals originally tabled in July. The first vote was on enshrining single transferable voting for the constituency section of the NEC, opposed by some on the grounds that it should apply to the councillors and MPs’ sections as well. The response was that with only a few candidates STV and first-past-the post give the same result (which I don’t understand, but we returned to this later). The NEC voted in favour, with 16 for, 8 against, 3 abstentions. The meeting then voted for any vacancies in the CLP section to be filled by recounting the previous STV ballot rather than holding expensive by-elections or leaving vacancies, with 17 in favour, 9 against, 3 abstentions. By-elections were introduced three years ago, and I am happy to see them go. No faction should hold 100% of the places on 60% of the vote. However by-elections will still be held for vacancies in all other sections.

The NEC also agreed that CLPs should not affiliate to or support any organisation without our permission, with 19 for, 9 against and 1 abstention. This does not prevent working closely with others on common aims, but currently there is no regulation, which opens the party to reputational risk. The rest of this batch was carried with 19 in favour, 4 against, and 3 abstentions. On all these decisions I voted with the majority.

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean …”

as Humpty Dumpty said in Through the Looking Glass. In discussing new proposals on expulsion no-one suggested reversing July’s decisions on proscribed organisations. However I was deeply unhappy with subsequent developments. For Socialist Appeal support had been defined thus:

That it considers, inter alia, that the following acts constitute “support” for Socialist Appeal under Chapter 2, Clause I.4.B of the Labour Party Rule Book:
  • Selling the Socialist Appeal newspaper;
  • Writing for the Socialist Appeal newspaper;
  • Running Socialist Appeal street stalls;
  • Describing oneself as a supporter of Socialist Appeal
and similarly for other banned groups. I was shocked to find that some members were sent a couple of old Facebook likes and threatened that “failure to make written representations, or to provide a compelling reason to extend this deadline within seven days will lead to your automatic exclusion from the party”. No ifs, no buts, no NEC involvement, just out. This extends “inter alia” beyond all reasonable limits, and I was among those who believed that proscription would not be applied retrospectively. Some letters also included incorrect dates.

I lived through the 2016 leadership election when the party actively trawled social media for incriminating evidence and I never want to go back there. However we were informed that only 57 such letters had been sent, only five people had actually been expelled, and the party had acted only on complaints received. So I withdraw the suspicion of wholesale trawling, though the alternative – that recipients of these letters were reported by other individuals – may be more disturbing and harder to deal with.

Other members said that when Militant was proscribed this was not applied retrospectively, and asked whether these rules would exclude Tories or LibDems crossing the floor, to which the answer was No because they have renounced their former allegiance. The language became uncomradely on both sides, with regrettable references to leeches and witchfinders.

A proposal to defer the paper was rejected, with 11 in favour (including me) and 16 against, and my attempt to rule out retrospective application was defeated by 18 votes to 10. Further work would be done on words around court action. There were positive elements in that members would become able to challenge auto-exclusion if this was judged disproportionate, which might apply to signing a nomination paper for a friend in ignorance. For this reason I voted for the final version, carried with 20 in favour and 9 against.

Grassroots Voices

The last section concerned constitutional amendments from CLPs, where the NEC recommends and conference decides. Members were sympathetic to Oxford East’s aims in proposing that Labour groups could set minimum numbers of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) members when electing their cabinet. Reservations were that some Labour groups might make unlawful changes, and the amendment was unnecessary because the NEC can already authorise variations to standing orders in chapter 13 of the rulebook. The head of the governance and legal unit and the chair of the organisation committee would discuss positive ways forward with the delegate.

The NEC then agreed to oppose the following (I voted with the majority except where otherwise stated):
Presenting a report from the parliamentary Labour party to conference, and allowing conference to vote on disciplinary actions against an MP (18 votes to 8). Debating individual suspensions openly could have legal consequences. I suggested resolving the situation which gave rise to these amendments, and certainly before we start selecting candidates. (I also wondered about similarities with 1995, when conference voted on Liz Davies’ parliamentary candidacy for Leeds North East.)

  • Electing the general secretary (19 votes to 7). The procedure was not workable, for instance if there were fewer than eight applicants, and would break employment law. Members might elect the person for political reasons, while the NEC would appoint someone with the ability to manage a large organisation. Also an elected general secretary with their own mandate could be in conflict with the elected NEC.
  • Allow similar rule changes to be discussed more often than every four years, if backed by five CLPs (17 votes to 7). I voted for this, as sometimes amendments are excluded on too sweeping a basis.
  • Stating every member’s right to freedom of speech without interference (18 votes to 9). This was internally contradictory, as it said that the NEC shall issue no instructions, but also that restrictions will ensure compliance with legal and financial responsibilities and protect against defamation. Presumably it is the NEC which has to specify these restrictions.
  • Use STV for all sections of the NEC except affiliated organisations (16 votes to 9). I voted for this. STV can apply perfectly well with only one or two people.
  • For parliamentary by-elections, snap elections or any situation where a full selection cannot be held, give the executive committee a majority on the shortlisting panel, and power to choose the candidate if there is no time for hustings (18 votes to 9). When I was last on the NEC the pressure was to take power away from executive committees, seen as factional cliques, and that may not have changed. Others believed that CLPs operating in isolation would prevent the NEC using all-women shortlists or positive action and would likely lead to more CLPs choosing favourite sons. (There is widespread resentment that dozens of constituencies could not select their candidates in two successive general elections, and Keir Starmer promised no more impositions, but the best way to deal with this is for the NEC to turn its attention urgently to starting selections.)
  • Set a minimum seven-day window for members to apply for parliamentary selections (17 votes to 8). Sometimes by-election timetables don’t allow seven days.
  • Define spending limits for leadership elections (17 votes to 8). Currently these are set by the procedures committee, which needs freedom to vary amounts for each election.
  • Rejecting donations from any organisation except trade unions or co-operative societies, and donations of more than £10,000 from any living individual. The first part would immediately lose up to £8 million of public funding, including Short money, and bankrupt the party. The second part ascribed ulterior motives to anyone giving to the party. Many supporters dig deep: for some that means £5, for those who are lucky it may be much more. Perhaps because NEC members are personally liable for party debts no-one pushed this to a vote.

Question Time

We were now running three hours behind schedule and it was 5 p.m. when Keir Starmer was able to speak. From in-depth visits around the country he believed that Boris Johnson’s appeal was wearing thin. People wanted change and were open to Labour if we gave them reasons to vote for us. Like many MPs he was dealing with agonising cases following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, where the consequences were predictable and had been predicted. He thanked Angela Rayner and Andy McDonald for their new deal for workers, highlighted in his TUC speech and criticised Boris Johnson’s non-plan for social care.

Members praised Labour for defending the £20 uplift in universal credit and urged support for increased legacy benefits for disabled people and others. I asked for a riposte to the Tory attack line that “Labour will scrap universal credit”, which suggests getting rid of all benefits. Keir Starmer explained our commitment to replacing UC with a better system. Anyone working extra hours currently loses 75p in every pound, there is a five-week wait, and payment to the head of the household endangers victims of domestic abuse. Some of us know that, but we need five words that Labour MPs can shout back in parliament and repeat in every interview, and activists can use on the doorstep. Similarly with health and social care: prevention is fine, as is enabling people to stay in their own homes and rewarding carers, funded by those with the broadest shoulders and from unearned income, not from working people. We need five words so that when Boris Johnson says “We have a plan, he has no plan” we have a snappy response ready. And “Captain Hindsight” should be firmly nailed to the former foreign secretary, who said that with hindsight he would not have gone on holiday when Kabul was about to fall.

Keir Starmer said he would meet Scottish local government workers and the Gypsy, Roma and Travellers working group as soon as possible He agreed that a £10 minimum wage was only a starting point, and that properly staffed ticket offices were essential in reviving rail travel. Britain should be assisting with vaccine distribution worldwide, where Tory cuts in international aid were particularly shameful. Labour would push back on the courts and sentencing bill, and highlight the impact of national insurance rises. Coupled with UC cuts some families will lose more than £1,000 a year. Labour had to regain its pre-eminence as the party of working people. He said that conference would be a fantastic opportunity to put Covid behind us and make our arguments for tackling the climate crisis and building a better, brighter future. My second question, on whether he would support the 140+ CLPs who sent motions to conference on proportional representation, got lost, though I think I heard the chair mutter “I hope not!”.

Moving On

The NEC endorsed papers on the national disabled members’ organisation and the new Labour Students structure, agreed by small groups through consensus. Deputy leader Angela Rayner drew attention to next week’s opposition day debate on the cost of living, with energy prices going through the roof and inflation back to 1990s levels. She thanked Jonathan Reynolds for his efforts on UC, particularly in stressing that it goes to many people in work. Asked about uniting the party she said that while there would always be differences on contentious issues, we should stick to our principles and values of decency and respect. Without previous Labour governments she would not be where she is today, and with everything she does, she always asks whether it will help to achieve our common objective of winning political power.

General Secretary’s Report

David Evans said that restructuring was a tough time for staff, and he was working closely with their unions. He was now confident that there was no need to consider compulsory redundancies. To his own and everyone else’s frustration the Forde report on the 2020 leaked document was not yet available even in partial form, and it was now promised in October/November (2021?). I asked for a report on the diversity impact of restructuring, and David promised a full diversity audit of the voluntary severance scheme.

He apologised for the distress caused to an individual who received a notice of investigation in error. This emanated from the project to clear the backlog of thousands of complaints, and procedures were being reviewed to avoid any repetition. He also committed to looking at the wording of letters to members about incidents which might have happened years ago, though serious allegations could not just be dropped. While processing outstanding complaints was on course to conclude by early 2022 my understanding is that cases will still have to be heard by NEC disputes sub-panels, which may take us into next summer.

David Evans said that the future candidates programme was still recruiting, and the NEC officers would provide oversight. He would check on the Bernie Grant and Jo Cox programmes for BAME and women. All we need now is lots of winnable seats. He had spoken with LGBT Labour about making progress on a code of conduct regarding transphobia. By the NEC meeting in November he hoped to have a scheme of delegated powers, clarifying who has the authority to do what, and recommendations for improving the working of the NEC, collected last November. Hopefully we will have time to discuss these.

Wrapping Up

The meeting noted new sexual harassment procedures and reports from the business board, the women’s conference, the national policy forum and the joint policy committee. The NEC has not yet received any proposals arising from the policy development review, though various drafts are in circulation. I believe there is now no time to reach agreement on significant changes before Brighton, and no point in tinkering at the edges. The joint policy committee is particularly unrepresentative, dominated by the shadow cabinet and with no CLP members for more than two years, but that cannot be fixed in five days.

After waiting patiently for over three hours the national women’s officer sought, and gained, NEC approval for the next national women’s conference in spring 2022. I hope to have dates and details soon, so that CLPs can plan to elect delegates and pay their fees, travel and accommodation.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Billy Idol - The Roadside EP (Dark Horse Records)

It's been a while since I've heard anything new from Billy Idol but his new four track EP (available physically for a change) has been plugged a lot on the radio and rightly so in my opinion.

Billy produced a number of hits back in the eighties though only three made it into the top ten. These were two re-releases White Wedding and Rebel Yell both of which reached No 6 in 1985 and Mony Mony which went to No 7 in 1987. His last chart outing was the album Cyberpunk which reached No 20.

Of the four tracks on the EP it's Bitter Taste that appears to attract the attention. Certainly my better half likes it! I rather like Rita Hayworth which is the the first track. Either way I hope this record is a hit though I've no idea about the charts these days,


Musical Influences: Alice Cooper

One of the great songs I remember from my school days was Schools Out by Alice Cooper. It became a sort of anthem back then and his follow up hit Elected was also a great tune even if as young lads we sort of adjusted the title a little bit. Such was the king of smutty humour we had in the play ground.

Alice Cooper is an artist I've stuck with over the years. Nice guy who like me went through an alcoholic rehabilitation programme. Alice even went on to produce an album, From The Inside based on his experiences. 

However it was Billion Dollar Babies that really hit the mark and remains one of my all time favourite albums. 

Alice Cooper has a syndicated radio show which is broadcast on Planet Rock in the UK and kept me going whilst I lay in a hospital bed for eight months a three years or so ago. His latest album Detroit Stories was released earlier this year.

Schools Out (1972)

Elected (1972)

I love the Dead (album track/1973)


Monday, 13 September 2021

Hawkwind: Somnia (Cherry Red Records)

It seems to have become an annual habit to buy a new Hawkwind album at this time of year and this will be my fourth (including the live double) that I've added to my collection over the last four years.  This album was recorded during the lock-down which given the age and vulnerability of the group members (and fans like me!)  meant this was done piecemeal across each others houses. Amazing what you can do with modern technology.

It's not affected the quality of the recording at all and frankly if they hadn't have told us we would never have known. That said the material on this album whilst fairly standard fare for Hawkwind is not as outstanding as their last couple of studio albums. Oh don't get me wrong it's worth listening to but if you haven't bought one of their albums for a while I'd say their last one, Carnivorous is probably a better choice.

There are a total of 13 tracks on one CD and I've chosen the opening track Unsomnia for you to listen to. 

It seems the album is doing better than the record company expected and despite only being released on Friday is already being re-pressed so don't just take my word for it. It's obviously got an appeal.

Available from:

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Unite General Secretary speaks at Trotskyist rally before TUC Conference.


Recent polls seem to suggest that Labour is beginning to surge quietly back in the polls as Boris finds himself coming unstuck over National Insurance and probably Council Tax increases that will hit the less well off hard. The so-called "Red Wall" which turned blue at the last election could well turn red again now that Brexit is over.

However Boris still has some accumulated credibility with the roll out of the vaccine programme and if he can spend the next three years turning things around for enough people there remains a chance the Tories will win the next General Election. In this he is likely to be helped by the far-left who though battered inside the Labour Pa\rty are far from down.

It's already known that at least three of the recently proscribed organisations Socialist Appeal (SA), Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW) and Labour In Exile (LIE) will be either demostrating outside the conferece hall or in the case of the latter two planning disruputions and other stunts to attract attention to their nasty little outfits. On their own these may only have a minor effect thouigh this will depend on the level of hard left delegates in attendance.

The biggest threat to the current leadership is the actions of those opposing the ratification of David Evans as the Party's General Secretary. The Unite National Executive has already indicated it will oppose and this bodes ill with the election of their new General Secretary Sharon Graham.

Many were prepared to give Graham the befit of the doubt following her surprise victory in the Unite elections but it seems that her connections with the far left was actually greater than realised.  Graham had been backed by the revolutionary left via the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party (SWP)and the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL).

The Socialist Party (Militant) organise their trade unionists around a front organisation known as the National Shop Stewards Movement which also feeds into their miniscule electoral front with the RMT Union. Graham is due to speak along with a number of other far-left trade union leaders before TUC conference.

The Socialist Party muses that

Already, in the short time following Sharon's election victory, her strategy to get Unite 'battle-ready' has seen the right-wing press alter their views on her leadership. Initially, they, and New Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, clung to hopes that her election could strengthen the right politically. But her position of 'no blank cheques' for Labour is now seen by them as a fighting not a passive position.

The Economist predicts: "Under Ms Graham's leadership, strikes will probably become more common", and the viciously anti-union Daily Mail reported: "Labour distances itself from new Unite leader after it emerges she once vowed to break the law in fight for workers' rights".

Sharon made this declaration in her speech at the 2019 National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) Conference. On Sunday 12 September (see ad opposite), she is addressing the online NSSN Rally, that for the 12th successive year will lobby the TUC for the fighting programme that is needed for the trade unions.

If Labour is to continue to recover than the battle to contain the hard left has become even more important. Despite Grahams assurances that interfering in "politics" is less of a priority it seems that her postioning herself as a "compromise candidate between the hard left and the moderates in the Unite election was disingenuous to say the least.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

End Of Innocence - Tony Kaye (Cherry Red Records)

Today is the anniversary of the tragedy that was 9/11 and the thousands of deaths at the hands of terrorists. Commemorations will be taking place not just in America but all over the free world. This should serve as a warning that we must always be vigilant against the threats to our lives and way of life from whatever quarter they come.

Photo: By Prog-Ress cc

This is the first solo album by Tony Kaye who will be best known for being one of the founding members of Yes, performing on their first three albums before departing for other projects. Kaye did return to Yes in the eighties and worked on albums including 90125, Union and Talk.

According to the solicitation the album is:

Marking the events and the journey that followed the world changing moments of 9/11, ‘End Of Innocence’ is designed to be listened to in its entirety.....takes you on a journey from the peace of the night before, to the emerging hopeful looking to the future.

Available from:

10% of all sales will go to the www.garysinisefoundation for survivors and veterans.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Ideological intolerance reaches 451 degrees


Three stories caught my attention in the news over the last 24 hours. The first was in The Times (no link£) which referred to the attempt by a group of LGBTQI plus Oxford Magdelen students attacking their college President for being employed to defend a ruling in court that they didn't approve of. Frankly although the issue was over a ban on Gay Marriage as "unconstitutional" in the Cayman Islands was irrelevant. She was next in line on the "taxi rank" system used and that was why she was doing the job, Full stop.

The law requires that both sides of a dispute have to be fairly represented in court whether it's about murder, rape or absolutely anything else.  That's how judicial systems work. Lawyers simply do a job. As a former civil servant  I had to sometimes implement regulations I didn't agree with but that's the role of the service in a democratic system. 

It reminded me of an incident a few years ago when all this "triggering" and safe spaces nonsense started in Universities in both the USA and over here. In one institution law students were excused lectures on rape law if it "distressed" them. I'm sure the actual victims would rather be represented by someone able to stand their ground in court than some wimp who would rather sit in the park with their hands over their ears.

How anyone could practice criminal law with attitude is frankly beyond me. I worry about the future of the West if our centres of learning shy away from difficult questions.

Photo: By zooterkin - CC

The second came up when I was just flicking through the news channels for something interesting and GB News introduced us to the story of Peter Boghossian who quit his job after harassment and false accusations from cowardly activists. It was recommended that one read his letter of resignation which I've reprinted in full below:

Dear Provost Susan Jeffords,

​​I’m writing to you today to resign as assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University.

Over the last decade, it has been my privilege to teach at the university. My specialties are critical thinking, ethics and the Socratic method, and I teach classes like Science and Pseudoscience and The Philosophy of Education. But in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I’ve invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I’m proud of my work.

I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t. From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds.

I never once believed — nor do I now — that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.

Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly.

I noticed signs of the illiberalism that has now fully swallowed the academy quite early during my time at Portland State. I witnessed students refusing to engage with different points of view. Questions from faculty at diversity trainings that challenged approved narratives were instantly dismissed. Those who asked for evidence to justify new institutional policies were accused of microaggressions. And professors were accused of bigotry for assigning canonical texts written by philosophers who happened to have been European and male.

At first, I didn’t realize how systemic this was and I believed I could question this new culture. So I began asking questions. What is the evidence that trigger warnings and safe spaces contribute to student learning? Why should racial consciousness be the lens through which we view our role as educators? How did we decide that “cultural appropriation” is immoral?

Unlike my colleagues, I asked these questions out loud and in public.

I decided to study the new values that were engulfing Portland State and so many other educational institutions — values that sound wonderful, like diversity, equity, and inclusion, but might actually be just the opposite. The more I read the primary source material produced by critical theorists, the more I suspected that their conclusions reflected the postulates of an ideology, not insights based on evidence.

I began networking with student groups who had similar concerns and brought in speakers to explore these subjects from a critical perspective. And it became increasingly clear to me that the incidents of illiberalism I had witnessed over the years were not just isolated events, but part of an institution-wide problem.

The more I spoke out about these issues, the more retaliation I faced.

Early in the 2016-17 academic year, a former student complained about me and the university initiated a Title IX investigation. (Title IX investigations are a part of federal law designed to protect “people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.”) My accuser, a white male, made a slew of baseless accusations against me, which university confidentiality rules unfortunately prohibit me from discussing further. What I can share is that students of mine who were interviewed during the process told me the Title IX investigator asked them if they knew anything about me beating my wife and children. This horrifying accusation soon became a widespread rumor.

With Title IX investigations there is no due process, so I didn’t have access to the particular accusations, the ability to confront my accuser, and I had no opportunity to defend myself. Finally, the results of the investigation were revealed in December 2017. Here are the last two sentences of the report: “Global Diversity & Inclusion finds there is insufficient evidence that Boghossian violated PSU’s Prohibited Discrimination & Harassment policy. GDI recommends Boghossian receive coaching.”

Not only was there no apology for the false accusations, but the investigator also told me that in the future I was not allowed to render my opinion about “protected classes” or teach in such a way that my opinion about protected classes could be known — a bizarre conclusion to absurd charges. Universities can enforce ideological conformity just through the threat of these investigations.

I eventually became convinced that corrupted bodies of scholarship were responsible for justifying radical departures from the traditional role of liberal arts schools and basic civility on campus. There was an urgent need to demonstrate that morally fashionable papers — no matter how absurd — could be published. I believed then that if I exposed the theoretical flaws of this body of literature, I could help the university community avoid building edifices on such shaky ground.

So, in 2017, I co-published an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper that took aim at the new orthodoxy. Its title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” This example of pseudo-scholarship, which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, argued that penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change. Immediately thereafter, I revealed the article as a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems.

Shortly thereafter, swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing in two bathrooms near the philosophy department. They also occasionally showed up on my office door, in one instance accompanied by bags of feces. Our university remained silent. When it acted, it was against me, not the perpetrators.

I continued to believe, perhaps naively, that if I exposed the flawed thinking on which Portland State’s new values were based, I could shake the university from its madness. In 2018 I co-published a series of absurd or morally repugnant peer-reviewed articles in journals that focused on issues of race and gender. In one of them we argued that there was an epidemic of dog rape at dog parks and proposed that we leash men the way we leash dogs. Our purpose was to show that certain kinds of “scholarship” are based not on finding truth but on advancing social grievances. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.

Administrators and faculty were so angered by the papers that they published an anonymous piece in the student paper and Portland State filed formal charges against me. Their accusation? “Research misconduct” based on the absurd premise that the journal editors who accepted our intentionally deranged articles were “human subjects.” I was found guilty of not receiving approval to experiment on human subjects.

Meanwhile, ideological intolerance continued to grow at Portland State. In March 2018, a tenured professor disrupted a public discussion I was holding with author Christina Hoff Sommers and evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. In June 2018, someone triggered the fire alarm during my conversation with popular cultural critic Carl Benjamin. In October 2018, an activist pulled out the speaker wires to interrupt a panel with former Google engineer James Damore. The university did nothing to stop or address this behavior. No one was punished or disciplined.

For me, the years that followed were marked by continued harassment. I’d find flyers around campus of me with a Pinocchio nose. I was spit on and threatened by passersby while walking to class. I was informed by students that my colleagues were telling them to avoid my classes. And, of course, I was subjected to more investigation.

I wish I could say that what I am describing hasn’t taken a personal toll. But it has taken exactly the toll it was intended to: an increasingly intolerable working life and without the protection of tenure.

This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose. Every idea that has advanced human freedom has always, and without fail, been initially condemned. As individuals, we often seem incapable of remembering this lesson, but that is exactly what our institutions are for: to remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right. Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty.

Portland State University has failed in fulfilling this duty. In doing so it has failed not only its students but the public that supports it. While I am grateful for the opportunity to have taught at Portland State for over a decade, it has become clear to me that this institution is no place for people who intend to think freely and explore ideas.

This is not the outcome I wanted. But I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?

Peter Boghossian

As if that wasn't enough Brendon O'Neill brought a story of book burning in French speaking Canada to my attention in Spiked! :

.........A total of 4,700 books were removed from the shelves of francophone schools in Ontario in what can only be described as a state-wide Inquisitorial purge. The books included Tintin in America (for depicting Indigenous people in a negative light), books that contained ‘cultural appropriation’, and biographies of French explorers who discovered parts of what is now known as Canada. "

In this instance it is difficult not to recall Nazi book-burnings, though at least the Nazis had the honesty to admit that they were exercising intolerance, that they were purging the Earth of decadent and dangerous ideas. Woke book-burning comes dressed in the dishonest language of openness and inclusion. It’s about education and tree-planting, apparently, not using fire to punish wrongthink and to inform onlookers, in this case schoolkids, that there is only one right way to think about the world....

True diversity can only be achieved through the liberal tradition of listening to and discussing views that one does not agree with rather than suppressing them just because these make the reader or listener uncomfortable. That is the road to 1984. It appears to be upon us.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Workers Power jumps ship and Socialist Fight splits


Given the current state of play in the Labour Party it is hardly surprising that one of the Trotskyist groups that entered the Labour Party to leach off the growth of Corbynism have decided to "jump ship" or at least re-emerge in their actual rather than their hidden form.

The following announcement (part of it anyway) was made on the League For the Fifth International's website:

UK: Why we are relaunching WORKERS POWER
With this issue, WORKERS POWER is resuming publication after six years – replacing RED FLAG which appeared for 39 issues during the four and a half years of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and the first 18 months of Kier Starmer’s. In all respects, RED FLAG argued for the same politics as its forbear and continued as the organ of the British section of the League for the Fifth International.....

This is because the right’s loyalty is not to the party, let alone the working class, but rather to its enemy: the Establishment and the capitalist class. Corbyn’s internationalism, and support for Palestinian resistance to Israel’s attempt to destroy them as a nation, meant he had no hope of a security clearance and would never have been allowed to become prime minister.

We will continue to relate to the left reformists and subjective revolutionaries from this milieu, but we can no longer say to them, or to the new generation of class fighters, that the battle inside the Labour Party is the central issue of the day.

On the contrary, socialists must turn to the social movements like Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Kill the Bill to provide practical support and offer political leadership. We must connect with the rank and file base of the unions, whose members face imminent threats of job losses, pay cuts and casualisation and whose leaders offer only compromise and sell-outs.

In doing so we want to re-emphasise our own revolutionary tradition as WORKERS POWER, which goes back to 1975. While we never abandoned this tradition...
No they didn't but were so small as to hardly be noticed by anyone except the most inveterate sectarians. The group has never been large and certainly no more than a few dxen members at most. Workers Power originated inside the International Socialists (now SWP) in 1973 and got themselves expelled in 1974.

One of the most tedious groups you are likely to come across who also set up a rival to the many Fourth Internationals that claim to to be inheritors of Trotsky by setting up the League for the Fifth International with a handful of other tiny co-thinkers around the world.

They are in the process of rebranding all their social media so haven't seen a copy of their new rag yet but I'm sure the paper will shortly reappear on a few street corners.

Meanwhile not to be outdone one of the two tiny groups of individuals squabbling over the rights to the name of Socialist Fight seems to have given up and created a new party which they named on the words of V.I.Lenin himself that the Bolsheviks should present themselves as "consistent democrats". Personally I just think the far left has run out of combinations of the usual socialist/revolutionary/party/league combinations that are normally used.

Led by Ian Donovan who created a theory too bizarre and antisemitic even for the highly sectarian Communist Party of Great Britian (Weekly Worker) who spend their time fronting groups to defend antisemites from being expelled from the Labour Party.  He actually believes there is an International Jewish (not Zionist) bourgeoisie who control world affairs  It's just a modern version of the fake Protocols Of Zion. Read it for yourself here: Jews & Modern Imperialism.  

Donovan teamed up with a minor ex-WRP figure  inside the grouping called Socialist Fight. Readers may recall Downings car crash of an interview with Andrew Neil on TV after his well deserved expulsion from Labour. They fell out when it suddenly dawned on Downing that Donovans rheses of Jews was actually antisemitic and to his credit apologised. Unusual for a Trot but welcome. He still holds anti-Zionist politics but not as extreme as Donovan and his "Consistent Democrats".

Downing addressed this during the internal faction fighting that tore the group (of no more than 20 or so people) apart:
Ian Donovan has obviously drafted the LCFI Statement on the departure of the Downing faction of Socialist Fight (Britain) of February last. It quickly establishes its view that Zionism is the force that controls the entire planet, in particular the imperialist countries themselves.
Donovan and his supporters seem to see the hand of Jews everywhere:
...the Zionist Jewish establishment as ‘successful citizens in the West’ can only refer to the Jewish-Zionist bourgeois layers that use the power of their property and wealth to give rise to the ‘strong and powerful’ Israel lobby, which is primarily an ethnocentric lobby or faction within the bourgeoisie. Which is disproportionate in size simply because of the much higher proportion of Jews who have risen into the Western bourgeoisies over a prolonged period, a historical legacy of the social role of the Jews as a class of commodity traders under European feudalism.
Donovan wants to expel anyone who supports Israel from the Labour Party which apparently goes too far for Downing who only wants to expel The Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel. Problem for Donovan no one is listening. His group is difficult to find in a google search and if you really do want to read his inane mutterings then go to their Facebook Page.

The one thing these groups have in common is their obsession with Israel and the Jews. For Workers Power the issue is "central" and for Consistent Democrats "Israel is second only to the USA as a threat to world peace." Fortunately these groups are small but there ideas are simply more explicit than the rest of the hard left who hide their prejudices behind dodgy memes and so-called anti-imperialism. Strasserites for modern times.