Notes from the front – of 18/7/2016

Right wing goes to war against Labour’s membership- Support Jeremy For Labour

The right has stepped up its offensive to remove Jeremy Corbyn since losing the Labour National Executive Committee vote that agreed that as the incumbent he needs no parliamentary nominations to be a candidate in the forthcoming leadership election.

Corbyn’s automatic inclusion on any ballot paper is being challenged in the High Court, approximately one fifth of Labour members are being denied a vote, only 48 hours allowed for Registered Supporters to re-register at the eightfold increased price of £25, local Labour parties have been forced into lock down, and a vile smear campaign has been stepped up against Corbyn and his supporters.

Michael Foster, a vociferous supporter of Israel, has been deployed to seek the judiciary’s aid in a coup. His application to the High Court is due to be heard at the end of July, with the right wing hoping for a sympathetic judge.

Labour’s NEC procedure subcommittee, overseeing the leadership election, has decided to restrict affiliates membership to those that joined before 12 January to block more Corbyn supporters participating via their trade union.

The political positions taken by the two MPs hoping to stand for Leader are clear matters of record. Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have both failed to oppose Tory policies on austerity and war in key parliamentary votes. Having lost the argument for austerity amongst Labour’s members the right is presenting its candidates as ‘anti-austerity’ to obscure the political choice.

The main focus for the right is negative campaigning, against Corbyn: that despite the electoral advances being made somehow Labour cannot be elected if he remains; that MPs will not cooperate with him in opposing the Tories; and that his supporters intimidate people. A future split in the parliamentary Labour Party is being wildly talked up to pressure members against voting for Corbyn. The lie is being promoted, that the left is orchestrating intimidation, thuggery and abuse of right wingers. This claim has been used to justify the party lock down and to smear, in particular Momentum the organisation which organises Corbyn supporters.

Labour Parties in Brighton and Hove and Manchester Gorton have been suspended as part of the right’s offensive.

The priority for the Labour left is to defend Corbyn from the coup attempt and secure his re-election as leader. Progressive people should join and assist the activities of Momentum and Jeremy For Labour.

Key Dates in the leadership election timetable
Monday 18 July 5pm: Registered Supporters applications open here
Wednesday 20 July, 5pm: deadline to join/reregister as Registered Supporter
Wednesday 20 July: CLP supporting nominations open
Monday 8 August: Deadline for new affiliated supporters to join here (who must have been a member of a Labour affiliated organisation/ socialist society at 12 January).
Monday 15 August, noon: Supporting nominations close
Wednesday 22 August: Ballot mailing despatched
Wednesday 21 September, noon: Ballot closes
Saturday 24 September: Special conference to announce result

NATO – increasing threats against Russia, continued failure in Afghanistan

The NATO summit, in Warsaw on 8/9 July, was the first to be held in Eastern Europe. It marked a significant increase in the belligerent stance towards Russia. The communiqué was genuinely hostile saying ‘Russia’s aggressive actions … fundamentally challenges the Alliance’. Words were matched by deeds, with the decision to establish ‘an enhanced forward presence’ of 4000 troops in the Baltic states and Poland for 2017. This will be composed of four battalion sized sets of combat troops, with Canada, Germany, UK and US serving as ‘framework nations’ in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland respectively. Such an obviously provocative stance led even former President Gorbachev to characterize the decision as ‘preparation for war with Russia’.

The US government’s promotion of this hostility by European nations continues to work against the interests of the people of Europe. An independent report, by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research, estimates that EU sanctions against Russia had cost the EU $100billion.

The summit also registered, without admitting, the continued impasse of NATO’s war upon Afghanistan. Whilst claiming that Afghanistan ‘has continued to make advances’, the summit agreed to financially sustain the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces to the end of 2020. The aim remains to achieve Afghanistan funding of its security forces by 2024. This appears to be a complete fantasy for an impoverished country of around 30 million people maintaining a security apparatus of hundreds of thousands of armed troops and police.

The matter becomes clearer in the light of the UN’s estimate that 2015, and early 2016, has seen record numbers of civilian casualties and internally displaced people. The US is actually increasing its military engagement. General John Nicholson, US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan recently told journalists that US forces are currently involved in air strikes and troop engagements ‘almost daily’. Terms of deployment have been changed from last year to allow greater range of military action by US troops. 8,400 US troops are to remain in Afghanistan in January 2017, compared to a previously scheduled number of 5,500. 15 years of NATO intervention have failed to secure the goal.