Friday, 29 October 2021

Musical Influences - Siouxsie And The Banshees

Life isn't all about politics and music is very central to me as regular readers both here and on my previous blog will be aware. I thought it time to move on from the influences of "Prog Rock" thopugh I may return to a couple of seventies bands later in this series. Music changes and so do tastes and although most punk music did not appeal there was an off-shoot around what is best described as the "Goth Scene" and one of the earliest acts I latched on to was Siouxsie And The Banshees.

The sound that Siouxsie produced was for me unique and creative. The first actual album I picked uo was the live Nocturne double LP but did go on to collect several of her albums and singles amongst which were more than a few of those 12" mixes that were so popular in the eighties. 

This album was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall which funnily enough was where I saw her perform just the once when she released Peek-A-Boo on of my favourite songs and albums of that decade.

Israel - No 41 1980

Cities In Dust - No 21 1985

Peek-A-Boo - No 16 1988

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Urgent Action Requested: Free Soheil Arabi & mother! Defend Mina Ahadi!


An Appeal from Maryam Namazie

Your urgent action and solidarity are requested.


Over 200 organisations and individuals have called for the release of an Iranian blogger imprisoned for 'blasphemy'. The initiative aims to free atheist Soheil Arabi who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2013.

Since 19 October, Arabi has been on hunger strike and his mother, Farangis Mazloum, has been summoned to serve an 18-month prison sentence for demanding justice for her son. Mazloum says she is extremely concerned about her son's situation and has not heard from him.

Please continue to support Soheil and his mother.

Send a souvenir postcard from your city to Arabi and his mother expressing your support and solidarity. You can post the postcard to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX.

Sign a petition at calling for his release. It currently has over 100,000 signatures.

Raise awareness using the hashtags #FreeSoheil #SoheilDay #SoheilArabi and #FarangisMazloum...

Find out more about what you can do via the National Secular Society.


Following a 15 October protest against Cologne City Council’s permit to mosques to broadcast the call to prayer or Azaan, Islamists have threatened Mina Ahadi with death. German police believe the threats to be serious and have placed her under police protection.

According to Mina Ahadi: “The fight against the Azaan is a fight against the Islamist movement and a defence of secular spaces. It is not against religious freedom. People have a right to religion but the Azaan, which is intrinsically linked to Islamist suppression in places like Iran, cannot be allowed to occupy the public space.”

Express your solidarity with Mina Ahadi, a leading figure in the ex-Muslim and anti-Islamist movement and strongly condemn the death threats. Urge the German government to take immediate and necessary measures to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators, ensure the safety of critics of Islam and Islamism and end its collaboration with Islamists that place the lives of freethinkers and apostates at risk.

To sign the statement of solidarity, please send your full name, description, country to or write it in the comments section. The list of signatories will be added on a daily basis. Deadline for signatories is 31 October.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

The past, present and future of the hard left examined


The Past

One of my favourite blogs Tendance Coatsey recently ran a story about the fitftieth anniversary of the ultra-left newspaper Workers Vanguard published by the seemingly defunct Spartacist League. An article aimed at only the most dedicated of "Trot spotters" since the organisation has been absent from all the major politcal protests including the BLM especially sionce it sought (in the uSA where it originated) to build a revolutionary party around the balck community.

Of course it's no different to most of the far-left organisations and is white, middle class and higly educated though in a cultish format. I've never seen a black or any ethnic minority member in this country at least. Their founder died and we all suppose there is a massive internal faction faction over what's remaining of the group world-wide. The workers of the world await the outcome with baited breath...not.

Getting involved in politics back in the seventies I came across the far left funnily enough by meeting the Coatsey who sold Red Weekly (Paper of the International Marxist Group) at my FE's student union meetings and canteens. I found it fascinating and moving on came across the rest of the far-left as it was then organised. There was Workers Press a daily Trotskyist paper published by the infamous Workers Revolutionary Party.

The WRP was an organisation that both fascinated and appalled me. Full of thespians including Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, Frances De La Tour and Bill Bailey amongst others. It's internal and external behaviour was cultish and could be violent. It's leader we found out not only reguarly lashed at at his supporters but also was found to have abused the Young Socialists and eventually expelled in the eighties. A row that was watched with fascination by all and sundry.

Other groups that were prominent were the International Socialists (who later became the SWP), Militant who were buried in the Labour Party until purged by Neil Kinnock. Of course there was also the official Communist Party of Great Britain and it's paper the Morning Star. The hard Labour Left had Tribune. Of course there were a myriad of weird and wonderful sects out there like the very trendy Revolutionary Communist Party whose trajectory became shall we say more than controversial

The left were quite identifiable and differences  between them to outsiders seemed almost religiously sectarian to outsiders. However at least they were out there and upfront with an agenda that was unachievable in it's revolutionary aims  despite the likes of the WRP were always preparing for a military coup hence their frenzied activity around the daily paper.

The Present

Today's left is barely recognisable in form and content. Of the old left the SWP survives albeit smaller due to a sex scandal some years back (see The full appalling story of the "delta affair" in the SWP on my original blog). The IMG broke apart and barely a hundred people form  it's successor Socialist Reistance whilst a handful went on to form Socialist Action who provided advisers to Ken Livingstone and it's main figure John Ross an apologist for the Chinese Communist Party.

Militant fell apart into numerous factions who themselves split continually over the years. Only the small Socialist Party and Socialist Appeal remain visible these days. The CPGB is now simply called the Communist Party of Britain and the CPGB name hijacked by a group of probably less than 40 individuals who publish Weekly Worker.

The most successful of these formations was the Revolutionary Communist Party which disbanded itself as they no longer believed a revolution was possible and went on to found Spiked! a website influencing the media and educational institutions. The fact is the hard core managed to stay together under Professor Frank Furedi and their by-lines are often found in the mainstream media. One of their number id now Baroness Cox and sits in the House Of Lords!

There remain a number of small sects such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty but the whole nature of the far-left changed particularly though the Corbyn experience.

The Future

Currently you can find people who would have previously been involved in such groupings taking a different course. Inside the Labour Party is Momentum a group with still much influence following the fall of Jeremy Corbyn., outside there are web based influencers who take a very media influenced approach. these include The Canary (which many of us consider a hate site), Novara Media home of luxury communism and the totally unreliable Skwawkbox.

Others remain in groups both outside and inside the Labour Party. Some of these groups are seeking to "work together even though despite having different names and some different members are all run by Tina Werkman a former plant from the CPGB who went "native" in the Labour Party along with PCS activist Lee Rock. These groupings held a conference on which  "Andrew Kirkland" of the Labour Party Marxists (a front for the CPGB (WW) inside the Labour Party) commented:

The October 14 joint meeting of members and supporters of Labour Against the Witchhunt, the Labour Left Alliance and the Labour In Exile Network highlighted the confusion and desperation that exists in this corner of the left.

The meeting was called to endorse the plan for closer cooperation between the three groups, with the suggestion of a weekly meeting for their combined steering committees. There was some debate about a suggested goal of full fusion, though the technical and political obstacles raised in contributions meant that the emphasis in the short term will be on ‘pooling our resources’ and the ‘cross-fertilisation of ideas’.

Real differences emerged over the question of the future orientation to the Labour Party. All three organisations were established on the assumption that the class struggle was taking place within Labour. Yes, expellees were welcome, but the objective was to get them back in to resume the battle in support of the Labour left. But now the heightened purge under Starmer has changed all that - what about those who are unable stomach the hostile environment for lefties in the Labour Party, and who have jumped ship or are about to do so?

No doubt the faction fighting amongst the comrades will continue unabated on their forums of which they have established many to appear larger and more influential than they are. 

So what of the extra-parliamentary newcomers to the scene? According to the hard-left website All That is Solid:

It was inevitable some of the left were going to decamp from the Labour Party with Keir Starmer's election as leader. But to do what? That was always the interesting question, and now it has a clear answer. Since Corbynism's defeat and the tightening of thumb screws on the left who've remained, several new left parties have come into existence. The best known and attracting the lion's share of media interest is the Northern Independence Party, but it is far from alone. The Breakthrough Party, self-identifying as a youth-led democratic socialist party, stood its first candidate in the Chesham and Amersham by-election. Joining it one would find the Harmony Party, the BLM-linked Take the Initiative Party, and Chris Williamson's Resistance Movement, which happened to hold a festival in Nottingham this Saturday.

We now know Williamson's hate-fest attracted fewer than a hundred followers. It seems that despite the claims of these groups The Breakthrough Party says it has "hundreds" of members whilst the Northern Indepence Party (whose leader lives in Brighton last time I looked says they have thousands. Who knows? The problem for these groups as we saw with the Left Unity group founded by the odious Ken Loach is that social media likes and followers does not translate into firm organisations.

The hard left will always be there in the background causing division and hate not just as open organisations or websites but through front campaigns such as the misnamed Stand Up to Racism group formed by the Socialist Workers Party. These organisations failed in the seventies, again in the eighties and then under Corbyn. For now they have mostly retreated. But the danger remains. The internet allows small groups of people to push ideas that undermine reason from antisemitic memes and conspiracy theories to bullying women for standing up for their rights. 

Forearmed is forewarned. Watch this space.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Those who care must stand up against the new authoritarians


Photo: By Bundesarchiv

It's been a while since I put "pen to paper" as they say even if this is an electronic form of writing. In order for a blog to build and retain a readership I am well aware that regular posts are the way forward and that although I no longer post every single day there has been an unforgivable gap in this humble attempt to comment on the world around us.

In part this has been due to my having a rethink about my political direction and therefore the aim of the blog in the current political climate and is also due to the fact I have been relaxing and indulging my hobby. My health also impacts on my output as I tire easily and sleep more during the day than perhaps I should. 

That's not to say I have not indulged in some activity especially on Facebook and a to a more limited extent on Twitter. For the umpteenth time some woke little prat has reported me to the Labour Party in order to get me either disciplined or expelled for having "transphobic" views by which they mean I stand for women's rights and don't believe women have dicks or men have cervixes. I'm sorry but these are biological truths.

How we adjust to trans-women is a question that needs serious and unfettered debate but the loud mouthed mostly male trans activists in co-operation with Stonewall are determined to impose their views on the rest of us and refuse to acknowledge concerns. Stonewall has abandoned its original remit and abandoned homosexual men and lesbians in order to pursue gender politics which tries to over-write sex and sexuality. 

Of course women's rights are likewise undermined as the definition of women and their bodies becomes transformed into a sex-less gender world where females can supposedly have lady-dicks. Lesbians are told they are "transphobic" if they refuse to sleep with individuals who retain their maleness. This madness  is referred to as the cotton ceiling.

At the same time I remain appalled at the antisemitism that shows it's ugly face on Twitter mostly pretending to be anti-Zionism. When I see a tweet that says "Only Israel abuses human rights" I despair. That Israel is not perfect like every other country in the world the ignorance and prejudice behind that comment ignores the widespread abuse of human rights from China and North Korea to across the Muslim world.

This also became a bone of contention as another twitter user tried to claim minorities were safer in Muslim countries. The persecution of Copts in Egypt, the abuse of christian and Baha'i in Iran, the vile and murderous attacks on Christians in Pakistan let alone the position of women under Islamic apartheid is all ignored. These people live in a world where only Israel is a villain and underneath so many are hard-line antisemites.

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson was tweeting the genocidal "From the River to the Sea" slogan with vicious Rachel Swindon nodding in agreement with other equally bigoted and blinkered individuals claiming to be "socialists" of some sort or another, One thought it amusing I described her views as "National Socialist" not just because they think it's just an insult but cannot see the Strasserite nature of their politics.

Many of us referred to Corbyns followers as the new Blackshirts and it's a formulation that remains applicable to so much of the far left and their allies in today's politics.  The battle against these creatures is far from over as they regroup and use social media to purse their nefarious aims.

It is the responsibility of those who care and are able to stand up and call for reason. Health willing I will now rejoin that fight wherever I can. My mobility may be limited but so long as I have a keyboard I have a voice that will not be silenced. Please join me in the fight against the threats to our freedom whether they come from the far-left, the far-right or religious extremism.

Shalom Aleichem

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Jewish Labour Movement letter to Momentum


Ground-breaking EHRC Rule Changes Pass

Sunday was a hugely important day for the Labour Party. Our Party finally voted to reform its disciplinary processes by passing the EHRC rule changes to create a new system that will be more transparent, fair and independent. This is the culmination of years of work from JLM and we're proud that the Party has made this step. And it's not just for the benefit of Labour's Jewish members, but all members from minority communities who face harassment and discrimination.

These rule changes were legally mandated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and passed with 74% of delegates voting in favour. JLM said the following:

Passing this rule change is a moral, legal and political imperative for Labour.

An independent disciplinary system was mandated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission following its report that the Party broke equalities law and discriminated against its Jewish members. It’s essential if Labour is to rebuild its relationship with the Jewish community and its wider reputation as a tolerant, anti-racist party.

From day one Keir Starmer has shown the real leadership Jeremy Corbyn never did, in taking concrete steps to tackle anti-Jewish racism, including supporting JLM in delivering training.

But passing this rule change alone is not enough to detoxify party culture. The reaction both inside and outside Conference today shows there is still a huge amount of work to do for Labour to become a truly safe and welcome space for Jewish people.

JLM Letter to Momentum

Sunday, 3 October 2021

The Quest - Yes (Double CD/Inside Out)

The latest studio album from long running prog rock band Yes was released on Friday and will appeal to long term and new fans alike. If the number of albums one owns shows which band is one's favourite then Yes certainly certainly should be considered my personal favourite as this the eighteenth album of theirs in my collection including two live triples and a compilation album.

The Quest certainly hits the right spots and whilst might be as memorable as some of their classic albums this is a worthwhile addition to anyone's collection demonstrating a high level of writing and instrument playing that has come to be expected from this group. It also comes out on the heels of founder member's Tony Kaye's album Age of Innocence release last month.

The current line up contains none of the original members but does feature Steve Howe who first began performing with Yes in 1970 and Alan White from 1972. The rest of the current bands members are Geoff Downes, Jon Davison, Billy Sherwood and Jay Schellon.

The two CD album contains 11 tracks and I've chosen one of the shorter numbers to feature:

Official Website:

Friday, 1 October 2021

Iran: It's time to recognise independent trade unions


Over the years, LabourStart has run many campaigns in support of persecuted and imprisoned trade unionists in Iran - a country which does not tolerate free and independent unions.

This time, it's a bit different.

In spite of ongoing repression, Iranian workers continue to organise strikes and protests against bad employers, and sometimes they win.

Over the past few years, tens of thousands of contract workers on Iran's oil and gas projects have taken part in waves of wildcat strike action, coordinated by strike committees.

They are protesting against dangerous work in extreme heat, low wages, poor living conditions, unreasonable shift cycles, and unscrupulous labour brokers.

And here's what's different this time:

These workers have begun to win, and the government is taking notice.

Last month, for the first time, the Department of Labour met with a workers' representative, from IndustriALL's Iranian affiliate UMMI, to hear the workers' demands.

Now is the time to formalise this arrangement by recognising independent unions as legitimate workers' representatives, and building an industrial relations system in line with global standards and ILO Conventions.

IndustriALL has launched a campaign on LabourStart calling on the government of Iran to recognise independent unions.

Click here to show your support.

Eric Lee