“Kenny go home!”

17 Aug

Still from Cathy Come Home, 1966

Defend Democracy Press two days ago:

Zionism has taken control of the British Labour Party. And it is destroying it!

Left erupts in anger after Starmer’s Labour expels iconic film director Ken Loach

Aug. 15, 2021

LABOUR’S left erupted in anger over the weekend after film director Ken Loach revealed he had been expelled from the party.

The iconic director behind classics Kes and Cathy Come Home – as well as more recent films savaging Tory austerity such as I, Daniel Blake 1 – tweeted the news of his exclusion on Saturday:

Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled. I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. This is indeed a witch hunt. Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few.

Mr Loach had been a public supporter of Labour Against the Witch Hunt, a left group which argues that the Labour right has used anti-semitism claims to purge innocent leftwingers, which was banned by the Labour NEC last month alongside three other socialist organisations.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn savaged the decision, widely seen as a reprisal for Mr Loach’s prominent support of him when his leadership was under attack by right-wing MPs. Ahead of the 2019 election, Mr Loach had accused certain MPs of conspiring with the media to undermine Mr Corbyn:

They offer the interview and the MP uses the platform to undermine the leadership, they do a dance and they each understand the steps.

For his part, commenting on Loach’s expulsion, Jeremy Corbyn said:

Ken Loach has made outstanding films … directed brilliant broadcasts for Labour and always stood with the oppressed.

Leeds East MP Richard Burgon slammed the “outrageous” decision, saying Mr Loach’s films “expose the deep injustices that scar our society and have inspired so many.”

Former Crewe and Nantwich MP Laura Smith of No Holding Back, which aims to rebuild working-class support for Labour, said Mr Loach had “done more to highlight inequality and oppression in this country than most — #istandwithkenloach.” Other Labour MPs, including Claudia Webbe and Zarah Sultana, added their voices to the chorus of anger.

Left-wing journalist Owen Jones described Loach as Britain’s “greatest living filmmaker” and said the expulsion, combined with the recent decision to readmit Trevor Phillips after his suspension on suspicion of Islamophobia, “tells you all you need to know about the state of the current Labour Party.”

But Blairite ex-MP Mike Gapes, who defected to Change UK in 2019 and lost his seat in the subsequent election, praised the decision, complaining that the “lifelong Trotskyist” had been given “a prominent seat on the conference floor” during an unspecified Labour conference, while he had been forced to stay on the balcony.

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For other steel city posts on the Labour Right’s weaponising of the ‘antisemitism’ charge, see Livingstone on antisemitismCooked: the antisemitic Corbyn slurAnti-zionism is not antisemitism(More can be found using the search tool in the right sidebar.)

But what Leftists like Owen Jones fail to see is that the Labour Right’s collaboration with Zionist lobbies like Friends of Israel and The Jewish Chronicle goes deeper than finding – after trying so much else 2 – a stick big enough to hurt the Party Left. On the West’s unconditional support for the apartheid state, see my review of Stephen Gowans’ 2019 book, Israel: a Beachhead in the Middle East

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  1. To Defend Democracy’s selection from the Loach oevre I’d add Sorry We Missed You, reviewed on this site in November 2019, just weeks before BoJo’s general election victory. That film explores the neoliberal reality of Britain’s burgeoning precariat under conditions of galloping casualisation.
  2. We’d seen media furores over: … Corbyn’s perplexing reluctance to bomb the shit out of Syria … not shooting-to-kill terrorists for Laura Kuenssenberg … Hamasgate …  IRA funeralgate … VirginTraingate … CrapDressergate … But none had gained the desired traction. Then they struck unexpected gold with ‘antisemitism’. Not because the issue was central to voter concerns – quite the opposite according to doorstep canvassers – but because it lit a bonfire within the Party. The PLP in particular. And historically the Labour Right has always preferred electoral defeat – most blatantly but by no means uniquely with Birkenhead MP Frank Field’s 1987 call for neighbouring Wallasey to vote for Tory Minister Lynda Chalker – if that would rein in an ascendant Party Left.

8 Replies to ““Kenny go home!”

  1. The dragnet is not only taking in those such as Ken Loach but also any member of the Jewish Community who does not toe the line. Over on the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) website you can find article after article about Jewish JVL members and Executive being charged with AS and/or given seven days to prove a negative in which the Party bureaucracy is retrospectively charging them over association with proscribed organisations prior to the date of the proscription.

    In effect the LP has been sub contracted to take a side in a heresy hunt against non Zionist members of the Jewish Community and is eagerly complying.

    Submissions have been made to the EHRC by JVL over these actions. Though having had contact with them previously and more recently the Equality Advice Service and the ICO over related issues I would not hang my hat on gaining any support. Like the LP the experiences have been of submitting material into a black hole where anything which contradicts the official line and narratives gets nowhere.

    The institutional capture appears more widespread than one might imagine.

    Even back in April during the local election campaign there was difficulty getting boots on the ground as activist members and supporters voted with their feet and worked without enthusiasm. This continuing war on anything and anyone not neo-liberal and neo-conservative will, as it is designed to do, destroy any meaningful organised opposition in this Country.

    Following Blair’s diktat about not winning under even the mildest Social Democracy ticket Starmer and those behind him have no intention of winning in 2024 or ever. The attitudes towards those the Party grandees regard as the ‘undeserving poor’ sums up where we are here – with former Labour MP Ian Austin even briefly Tweeting in response to the Ken Loach issue that ‘Danial Blake should get a job.’

    Yet despite alerting one NEC member ahead of the vote (spoiler: Anne Black voted to proscribe those organised initiatives) to take me off her mailing list lest she be tainted as a witch by association I’ve heard nothing. No expulsion letter. Zilch.

    Apparently, I hear it on the grapevine that the bookies have slashed their odds on the LP rebranding it’s logo at next month’s Conference to a ducking stool. But I couldn’t possibly comment as I’m too busy right now polishing my broomstick.

    • ” This continuing war on anything and anyone not neo-liberal and neo-conservative will, as it is designed to do, destroy any meaningful organised opposition in this Country.”
      The Labour Party constitution lends itself to these kinds of machinations (or ‘conspiracies’ as I like to call them).
      Perhaps it was designed to do that from the beginning.

  2. Perhaps Starmer has been tasked with destroying the Labour Party as an electoral force the way the LibDems were after Charles Kennedy. Either that or he thinks Blairism will make a comeback.

    • To be sure Sir Keith appears perfectly relaxed over the exodus, entirely predictable, of thousands of members of what under Jeremy Corbyn had been Europe’s largest social democrat party.

      This same man headed up the CPS when it scolded Swedish Prosecutors – “don’t you dare get cold feet” – about wanting to question Julian Assange over ‘rape’ claims. That those slurs long ago exhausted their usefulness must be clear even to dunderheads like James Ball, who’d sagaciously informed us in the Graun back in 2018 that Julian was “unlikely to face prosecution in the US” and “the only barrier to his leaving the Ecuador Embassy is pride”. Of which Mr Ball clearly has zilch since he continues to hold forth on that ongoing affront to decency from Graun, Telegram or anyplace else that’ll actually pay him to spout his pompous drivel. Said Caitlin J: “if I’d been shown to be so totally wrong I’d do what any normal person would and shut the entire fuck up about Julian Assange for the rest of my life …”

      Oops. Did I digress?

      Not really. All things considered.

  3. Look on the sunny side of life – the evisceration of the left in the so called ‘Labour’ Party should make it plain to anyone with socialist leanings that the LP is now plainly and explicitly the damp squib that it has been since its birth. A new left-socialist party could be formed by those expelled, and a serious campaign to get the unions on board with it started. There will be plenty of popular support from the missing membership that previously existed under Corbyn. Whats to lose really? If the SNP can push Labour and the Tories into single figures in Scotland, then a new socialist party in England must have at least a fighting chance. Corbyns re-nationalisation and other left policies had wide popular support too.

  4. On the other hand
    – the evisceration of the left in the so called ‘Labour’ Party should make it plain to anyone with socialist leanings that the LP is now plainly and explicitly the damp squib that it has been since its birth. A new left-socialist party could be formed by those expelled, and a serious campaign to get the unions on board with it started. There will be plenty of popular support from the missing membership that previously existed under Corbyn. Whats to lose really? If the SNP can push Labour and the Tories into single figures in Scotland, then a new socialist party in England must have at least a fighting chance. Corbyns re-nationalisation and other left policies had wide popular support too.

    • Thirty to forty years ago, a ‘correct’ attitude to the Labour Party was one of the three issues – the other two being the Soviet Union and Ireland – dividing the numerous sects of what remained of the 4th International. Using these three as a compass, an otherwise bewildered outsider could navigate the otherwise bewildering maze of Britain’s far (as in Trotskyist: Maoism barely registered in Britain) left.

      (Not that any of the three engendered binary oppositions on the part of said Left. It was never that easy! In the case of Labour, a spectrum from the deep entryism of Militant Tendency to the flat out rejection of SWP and RCP could be found. The same went for attitudes to the USSR – from the near CP views of Spartacist League to the refusal to even speak on the issue of RCP. On both, and Ireland too, each group had – or believed it had – its own unique location on a spectrum of responses.)

      My sect – Workers Power, expelled from SWP after dissenting from its condemnation of the Provisional IRA in the wake of the Birmingham pub bombs – believed it sectarian for the revolutionary left to turn its back on the mass party of the working class. Not because it was a social democratic party, hence a ‘lesser evil’ to the other pro capitalist, pro imperialist party. Rather, because Labour’s organic ties with the organised working class made it qualitatively different from other social democratic parties in the West.

      It seems to me now very difficult to sustain this view. It’s not that Starmer or even Blair represent some qualitative shift in the party. As you observe, Labour has since its inception thrown up cheer-leaders for Empire, including Leftists like Bevan and Foot. For me it’s rather that the position of Workers Power vis a vis Labour derives from Lenin’s advice to “support Labour as a rope does a hanged man”. In other words it harks back to a time when serious minded people could still believe a revolution along Marx-Leninist lines a feasible project in the West.

      I no longer believe that. As I said in a recent post:

      I reject revolution as envisaged by Marx and modified by Lenin because, in the West at least, that ship has sailed. Seizing state power is not going to happen for two reasons. One, the industrial conditions so ably depicted by Marx and Engels no longer hold. With manufacturing exported to the global south, the proletariat has lost both its muscle and the conditions whereby its exploitation was experienced en masse.

      Two, the British and all other Western ‘democracies’ are armed to the teeth, versed in the black arts of counterinsurgency – honed on the streets of Belfast and Gaza – and above all equipped with tools of surveillance beyond the wildest dreams of the twentieth century totalitarianisms.

      Which leaves me empty handed. It’s not as if I’m advocating an alternative, ‘purer’ mass party for workers. History offers many such dead ends: anyone remember Scargill’s Socialist Party, in the wake of the miners’ betrayal and defeat?

      I don’t mean to sound glumly defeatist Jams. But Labour’s every betrayal in its century or more of existence has led to precisely such calls as you advocate. We can’t if we’re serious just shrug off that legacy of failure.

      I could be wrong, and in any case I’m far from sure where it takes me, but I see the rise of China – for all the dangers posed by the response of the criminals who rule us, and for all that my faith in China ,ay in any case be misplaced – as the only glimmer of hope for humanity.

      Meanwhile all I can think of to do is write for anyone who’s listening that things ain’t what they seem and it really is time, for our children’s sake and their children’s too, to wake the fuck up.

  5. The Great Knight Hope Starmer is not quite a poacher turned gamekeeper. He is worse.
    As Rumpole would have said a great defender would never think of becoming a prosecutor or as Weird Keir has gone further to the dark side, a persecutor.

    What you are describing is strangulation by triangulation.

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