Friday, October 26, 2018

Remainers on the march

Hundreds of thousands of Remainers marched through London last weekend to demand a “people’s vote” on the European Union (EU). The call for a second referendum, which began the day after the Remainers lost the first one in 2016, is now going into top gear with the support of the Blairites and the rest of the Europhile lobby, and ample funds from Europhile grandees and the Soros foundation.
Their objective is, of course, to force the May government to agree to a new vote or call for an early general election. This, they believe, will result in a Labour minority government dependent on the Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats, whose support can only be bought with a second referendum. We have to prove them wrong by making sure that Labour gets a massive majority at the next election.
We don’t need another vote. The real ‘people’s vote’ was in 2016 when we voted to leave the EU. But now the Remainers think that they can win a second referendum.
From the start, the mainstream Brexit campaign has been based on anti-immigration, chauvinist and racist lines. UKIP, and indeed some who pose as left wing, embraced these ideas. But the issue of immigration is an entirely bogus argument. The Tory Eurosceptics see the EU as a brake on further neoliberal policies. They also represent the section of the British ruling class that fears Franco-German imperialism and believes that British imperialism’s interests are best served in alignment with US imperialism.
The bourgeois Eurosceptics talk about ‘independence’ and the burden of funding the EU, but they never talk about the burden of financing the US Trident nuclear missile system or the American bases in Britain because they approve of them. So the ‘independence’ that they talk about is not genuine independence but simply about leaving the EU. They don’t talk about independence from US imperialism. They never openly admit that British imperialism cannot stand on its own feet.
All this has done is reinforce the fears of the Remainers within the labour movement that Brexit will lead to further attacks on the unions and what’s left of the ‘welfare state’. Most of the unions have swallowed the Brussels line that the EU safeguards workers’ rights and guarantees jobs, and this is reflected in Remainer support within the Labour Party that goes far beyond the Blairite ranks in parliament. This view must be challenged. But although British communists, of all hues, have long opposed the EU and the Treaty of Rome, the left case against the EU has still to be won within the labour movement.
The EU is essentially a rich man’s club, a club for big business. It exists solely to operate in the interests of the big European corporations and it is dominated by Franco-German imperialism. Whatever minor benefits have come to workers because of these institutions could easily have been obtained by other means. For example, freedom of travel. Before 1914 there were no passports, no barriers. The limitations on travel are a 20th century phenomenon and freedom of travel could have been introduced anyway, as has often been said.
The EU is neither genuinely federal nor democratic, and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. The EU cannot be reformed. It must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, repealed.

Standing up to racism

Downcast racists left London with their tails tucked firmly between their legs last weekend following a poorly supported march through the capital that came under a barrage of abuse from anti-fascists all along the way. The ‘football lads’ had bragged that tens of thousands would join them to march from the West End to a rally outside Downing Street – but on the day barely a thousand degenerates turned up, easily outnumbered by several thousand anti-fascists who responded to the call to defend our streets.
Supporters of the RMT rail union and other militant unions together with the long-established Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism movements opposed them in a number of counter-protests, including a robust response from the newly-formed ‘Football Lads Against Fascism’ (FLAF) that is building a progressive alternative to the recent far-right revival amongst football fans in Britain.
In a message to the anti-fascist campaigners, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, who helped to organise the event, said: “Congratulations on today’s demonstration standing up against racism and far-right extremism.
“We’re in solidarity with all those around the world standing up to oppose racism and to support the diversity of our communities. We’re proud to walk in the traditions of anti-racism campaigners and activists. Your fight is our fight.”
The racists and fascists are on the march again, and communists must be in the forefront of the resistance. There is no substitute for blocking their path with massive numbers, even if the police do not like this.
So it goes without saying that on the streets and facing the fascists there must be maximum unity between anti-fascists of all political shades. We must remember that the biggest and most successful anti-fascist alliance of all time was led by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, and that they managed to work together despite having very little else in common, until the threat of Nazism was smashed. If they can work with each other then we can also work with everyone on the left and anyone else ready to stand up to racism and fascism.
As communists, working with other anti-fascists of all kinds also gives opportunities for friendly dialogue as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism, and it in no way implies our support for the political views on other matters of the people we are standing next to. Those are matters for peaceful argument during the lulls in fighting the fascists. This is the only way to achieve the mass turn-outs necessary to stop the fascists. And it happens naturally on the streets. Anti-fascists of all shades will defend one another regardless where there is a threat of attack by fascists or by police.
The traditional tactics of the mainstream anti-racist movements and the more robust tactics of those up for confronting the fascists on their own terms are both needed, and should be co-ordinated for maximum effect.
Communists are great ones for meetings, conferences, debates and committees – theoretical work that is usually done sitting down. This is all essential work but it is only half the struggle. If all those great resolutions and clarifications of the line are just left hanging we might as well not bother. We must stand up, get out and about, and be at the forefront of implementation – on the streets, in the workplaces, in the communities, on the housing estates, putting our line into practice and communicating directly with workers, and raising levels of political awareness and class consciousness.
We must ensure that the hardship and suffering caused by the austerity regime and attacks on working-class living standards turn into anger and not into despair and resignation. To do that we need some successes in struggle, we need to set at first modest, achievable goals to build morale and awareness. Defeating fascist and racist activity is a crucial starting point.

Informer: the murky world of the police informant

By Ben Soton

The BBC’s latest Tuesday night crime thriller Informer shows the murky world of the undercover police informant as well the love hate relationship between the British state and reactionary Islam. The series centres around the roles of a young British Pakistani, Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan), and his police handler, DS Waters (Paddy Considine).
In one scene Waters tells Shar that he can “go to the places I can’t”, Shar replies “what Ministry of Sound and Cargo?”, an obvious reference to the generational as well as cultural differences between the two men. Raza works in a warehouse during the day and in the evening deals drugs to well-heeled customers in Shoreditch. Meanwhile his low income is shown when he uses his school blazer to go clubbing.
The idea of identity plays a big role in the series, particularly with reference to the younger man. Is his loyalty to the Muslim community or to Britain? An idea that is highly problematic, especially if by Britain we mean the ruling class and the repressive arm of the state. Meanwhile, why should a working-class youth on the minimum wage have any interest in supporting reactionary Islam, which as this paper has pointed out has often found common cause with British and American imperialism.
The programme gives an insight into who the police use as informers; many of them are petty criminals or sex-offenders. More to the point, some may even be supporters of reactionary Islamic movements themselves. In one scene Waters has to tell one of his informers to stop promoting Jihad in the mosques, to which the man responds: “How else am I going to make contact with these people?”
The murderer of the off-duty soldier Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo, was said to have been known to the authorities. Was he an informant?
The two men are brought together when Shar is arrested for drug dealing. Waters and his sidekick DS Holly Norton decide he will make an ideal informant, suffice it to say based on his identity. The drug dealing is not sufficient to keep Shar in custody or convince him to inform, but Waters and Norton soon discover his mother is an illegal immigrant.
The programme mentions some of the problems and assumptions made about young Muslim men. In a scene with a group of potential house mates he points to a photograph showing a man in Islamic dress giving out leaflets. The photographer assumes that the flyers are Islamic propaganda; Shar points out that he knew the man and the leaflets were, in fact, takeaway menus.
In a discussion with his younger brother, who is good at Maths in school and has an ambition to become an astronaut, he is told: “They don’t let Pakis on planes, they’re not going to let one go into space.”
Overall the programme does contain some good social commentary as well as amusing one-liners. Will it explain fully the true relationship between the British state and reactionary Islam however? I doubt it.