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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Jon Lansman’s Xmas Punch Could Sucker Corbyn

Explosive Evidence of Israeli Embassy Involvement in Labour's False 'Anti-Semitism' Allegations

What else would you expect from the world's only democracy?
Jon Lansman - perhaps not quite as hapless as he makes out?  The question is what did Lansman know about Jeremy Newmark of JLM's links with an Israeli destabilisation programme?
It was a nice touch for Jon Lansman and ‘Team Momentum’ to get Jeremy Corbyn to send me and thousands of others a Merry Xmas and New Year message.  Of course there were no ulterior motives for sending a message this Xmas.  It’s just that I don’t seem to recall a similar thank you last year!
Attached to the email was a button inviting me to ‘Take the survey now’.  It is nice to be consulted.  Of course one of the problems with consultations or plebiscites, to give them their proper name, is that it’s someone else who gets to ask the questions, not you.

Jackie Walker - the target of the Israeli Embassy's 'anti-Semitism' campaign and Jeremy Newmark's Jewish Labour Movement - 
I have a few questions of my own that I would like to be answered such as ‘Who gives the right for Jon Lansman to be the sole owner of everything to do with Momentum?’ and maybe a follow-up along the lines of ‘when does Lansman intend to make all members of the Steering Committee Directors of his personal Momentum companies.’  Perhaps ‘Team Momentum’ might consider organising a survey with this and a few other questions? 

If I was being very daring I might ask ‘Who gets to decide who asks the questions?’ and ‘Who gets to decide the wording of questions?’  I could also ask Jon Lansman a few of those questions that Tony Benn once suggested, such as ‘who put you there’ ‘from where does your power derive’ and the clincher ‘how do we get rid of you’?

There is a reason that dictators have always loved plebiscites.  That is because they get to choose the questions and to frame them in such a way that they get the ‘right’ answer. Most people won’t remember Hitler’s plebiscites on the Rhine and the Saarland but they haven’t had a very good reputation ever since.
That bogus survey
Of course you may say that things have moved on.  We have social media now.  There was no Internet in the Germany of the 1930’s but the principle is the same.  Surveys, plebiscites, call them what you will, are one way methods of communication.  They ask the questions of you, not the other way around.  Of course they can go awry as Generals Charles de Gaulle and Pinochet found out when they asked the people their views and the people gave the wrong answer.  However it is not a socialist method of communication.  Participatory democracy means a two way exchange of views, dialogue and disagreement, not the imposition of a particular view through the manipulation of outcomes.

This is why secret ballots were the centre piece of Thatcher’s union reforms.  Having people vote in isolation, susceptible to a hostile press and media was infinitely preferable to them voting together in mass meetings.  When you vote together you feel your strength.  Secret ballots had their effect.  Even when, as with the Doctors, they voted for strike action, they had been atomised and were thus susceptible to demoralisation.  What Lansman and his cronies are advocating is a Tory version of democracy.

Needless to say the questions in Lansman’s bogus survey were fixed.  They gave people a choice between delegates having a vote under a delegate structure and everyone having a vote under OMOV.  This is the kind of thing the Daily Express does.  You fix the questions and then you get the answer you want.

Lansman's bogus petition
Under delegate voting systems everyone has the right to vote.  They vote for delegates who will then vote under a mandate and report back.  With everyone voting via OMOV and the Internet, you get no debate, you don’t get to choose the questions and you don’t have any accountability.  OMOV is a means of disenfranchising people and ensuring that power remains in the hands of Momentum’s sole company director.  It really is as simple as that.
Laura Murray - not quite the political innocent
Nor is there any greater level of participation.  The women’s delegates to the National Committee, Laura Murray and co., were elected with about 10% of those eligible to vote.  In Brighton we have a higher participation by people attending meetings.  Before the Labour Party AGM which the NEC overruled when it suspended the Brighton party, there were something like 800 people present.  Presumably ‘Team Momentum’ would have preferred that those 800 people voted on-line in the isolation of their home without listening to speakers or giving their own views. 
But there is far more that lies behind the campaign to prevent a democratic structure in Momentum.  What matters is the political strategy that lies behind what is a seemingly minor disagreement over voting systems.  What is at stake is the very nature of Momentum.  Should it be a stage army to be called into action if Corbyn is threatened or a movement that can think and act for itself, a social movement as much as anything else.

This concept of what Momentum should be is critical to the survival of Corbyn.  If Lansman succeeds in neutering Momentum and taking the life out of it, then he will also doom Corbyn’s leadership. 
Owen Jones has always been willing to run with the bogus 'anti-Semitism' campaign and do Lansman's dirty work - the question is why
That is why Lansman has pulled out all the stops to prevent the Conference on 18/19 February being organised.  That is why he got his pet poodle, Owen Jones, to bark on demand in The Guardian.  The same Owen Jones who was in two minds whether to support Corbyn last summer.  An undemocratic Momentum will be a weaker Momentum.  It will rely on instructions from the centre rather than the self-activity of local groups. 

Lansman’s Media Campaign

The first broadside was placed with Lansman’s ‘go to’ reporter on the Guardian, Jessica Elgot.  It quoted this blog on Lansman’s attempted coup.  It was followed by a nasty little red-baiting article by Owen Jones Momentum is a beacon of hope. It must be saved from the saboteurs.  The Guardian, which had waged an unremitting campaign against Corbyn, leading on the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign, was apparently concerned to save Momentum from ‘the sabotuers’!

Owen Jones told lurid tales of Trotskyists conspiring against Lansman and his democrats.  It was posed as younger activists vs older, wizened Trots.  Like his mentor Joe McCarthy, Jones assertions relied on vague, sweeping assertions.  The main Trotskyist group in the Labour Party, the Alliance for Workers Liberty has all of a 100 or so members.  It is detested by most people on the Left for its Zionist/ imperialist politics.  Ironically Lansman ganged up with the AWL’s Jill Mountford and sympathiser Mike Chessum in order to remove Jackie Walker as Vice Chair of Momentum.  But of course Jones didn’t mention Lansman’s wheeling and dealing with the dreaded Trots!  Of course Jackie Walker is genuinely popular amongst Momentum members and that is what Lansman, Jones and the AWL fear.

The nonsense about the battle in Momentum being a generational battle between young internet savvy OMOV supporters and an older generation of Trots was dealt with effectively by Rida Vaquas in the New Statesman, No, the battle in Momentum isn't about young against old  It’s worth reading what Rida said. 

I was nineteen years old then. Unfortunately speaking and voting in favour of a delegates based conference has morphed me into a Trotskyist sectarian from the 1970s, aging me by over thirty years.’  He goes on to explain that a number of other delegates who voted for genuine delegate democracy were also under 30 and lambasted ‘the caricature of an intergenerational war between the old and the new is precisely that: a caricature bearing little relation to a much more nuanced reality.’

Laura Murray, daughter of Stalinist hatchet-man Andrew Murray, led Lansman’s fightback with an overlong article, wittily titled ‘Momentum vs. Inertia’.  No guess who was in favour of inertia!   In it we were told that ‘Dyed-in-the-wool Trotskyists are not the majority in Momentum. But they are a vocal, disruptive and over-bearing minority’. 

What Murray ‘forgot’ to mention was that it was among Momentum groups, at large  meetings of ordinary members of Momentum, that people have voted overwhelmingly against an OMOV system that would keep Lansman and his clique in power perpetually, without any means of removing them.  Laura writes that ‘AWL a group with such extreme Trotskyist politics that they are almost a caricature of themselves and their fellow travellers. Subtle support for imperialist wars, uncritical support for Israel and fanatical support for the European Union are amongst their policies.’

Yes AWL are a caricature of the Left.  Yes they are pro-Zionist and pro-Israeli.  I debated with them in Brighton last year.  But so is Lansman who has consistently supported the fake anti-Semitism allegations directed against people like Jackie Walker and myself.  Ben Sellers who was a close associate of Lansman put his finger on what the division in Momentum is really about.  On Facebook  Sellers asked:  

‘Is it the Jon Lansman who only wants a "pluralistic", democratic, grassroots organisation facilitated by a new era of digital democracy?
Or the Jon Lansman who told me to my face just a year ago that Momentum groups should be banned from having social media accounts and encouraged a completely unaccountable 'helper' to take over regional Facebook pages from local Momentum activists?’
What this is really about is a contempt for local Momentum groups and activists.  The question is why?  That relates to the politics that lie behind Lansman’s machinations.
How Lansman’s Opposition to Democracy in Momentum chimes with Jeremy Corbyn’s Strategy
The strategy of Corbyn and his office is quite simple.  Having won the leadership election for a second time, they believe that their opponents in the PLP, or  most of them, have now accepted his leadership and that they can work with most of the Right.  The last thing Corbyn’s Office want is a Momentum which is not controlled from the Centre, by Lansman and cronies.  They don’t want right-wing MPs being upset by calls for reselection.
This is profoundly mistaken.  The Right has not given up.  Some of them may have accepted posts in the Shadow Cabinet but there is a sullen majority in the PLP who are waiting for the chance to plunge the knife after their disastrous miscalculation with Owen Smith.  The first sign of a rebellion was the mass abstention by the Labour Right over a weak motion calling for a cessation of arms shipments to the Saudi regime.  We have now had a report from the Fabian society, which is on the Right of the Labour Party, making the case that Labour cannot win an election and has to go into alliance with other parties.  These are merely shots across the bows.
The Labour Right is biding its time, waiting for the opportunity to stick the knife into Corbyn and like Brutus it wants to be sure that this time that it gets its man.
Corbyn’s position could have been virtually impregnable when he won the leadership election last September with an increased majority.  He could have dealt a mortal  blow to the ambitions of the Labour Right.
People will remember that ‘crooked’ Iain McNicol, Labour’s General Secretary went into overdrive to suspend anyone suspected of intending to vote for Corbyn.  Thousands, they won’t reveal the number, were suspended.  Normally investigations are conducted when a complaint is made about someone.  Instead McNicol went on a fishing expedition, pro-actively trawling through the social media accounts of thousands of Labour Party members in the hope that they might find something, anything, that would give them an excuse to suspend the member.  Use of a four letter word, ‘I like the fucking foo fighters’ was enough to get one member suspended. 
The Labour Right is awaiting for the right moment to pounce.  It may be after the local elections in May or after a by-election defeat.  It is impossible to predict, but what is certain is that they will move at some point.
What was crucial to Corbyn’s survival over the summer was not only the support of the membership but the fact that the trade union leaders supported Corbyn.  There is no guarantee that this will always happen.  UNISON does not have a left-wing leader in Dave Prentis.  He said it was a ‘no brainer’ to support Corbyn.  The Right in UNISON are not famed for their brain power.  UNISON have already put a Blairite on Labour’s NEC.  Hopefully Len McCluskey will win the Unite General Secretary elections, but it is impossible to be certain.  What is quite possible is that UNISON’s leadership will at some stage join the GMB union in opposing Corbyn.
People have been lulled into a false sense of security but if there was a combination of circumstances such as bad election results and the defection of UNISON, then Corbyn’s position could very quickly become untenable.  That is precisely why Momentum’s local groups need to be taking the fight to the Right now, not waiting to be attacked.
What Corbyn Could Have Done After His Victory
If Corbyn is deposed by the Right, then he will have been the author of his own misfortune.  Corbyn was always an unlikely leader of the Party.  He happened to be the right person at the right place at the right time.  There was a fortuitous combination of circumstances, not least the nomination of Corbyn by a number of those on the Right such as the self-confessed ‘moron’ Margaret Beckett.
When Corbyn spoke to acknowledge his victory last September he could have dealt the Right a decisive blow.  He could have thanked his supporters for giving him a larger victory second time around and then noted that but for the suspension of thousands of Labour Party members on the flimsiest of pretexts then his victory margin would have been even greater.

Corbyn could have gone on to say that the behaviour of Labour Party officials in suspending thousands on the basis of an odd tweet was an unacceptable interference in the conduct of the elections.  He should have said that he had spoken to the General Secretary, Iain McNicol and told him that because of his behaviour, his attempt to keep him off the ballot paper when the rules were clear and other matters outlined in a solicitor’s letter from Jim Kennedy of Unite to McNicol, meant that he had lost all confidence in him.  He could stressed that it is essential that the officials of the Labour Party must work in harmony with the leader.  There can be no doubt that McNicol’s position would have been untenable.

Corbyn could also have said that he wanted to ensure that he had an NEC that would work with him.  That Tom Watson’s proposals to gerrymander the composition of the NEC by adding two representatives from Scotland and Wales, neither of whom were elected by members in these regions, was unacceptable.   Corbyn did none of these things.  Instead he told McNicol at the NEC that he had never challenged him despite McNicol trying to keep adverse legal advice on Corbyn’s right to stand away from the NEC.

Corbyn could also have made reference to the MPs vote of no confidence.  He could have made the simple argument that no Labour member had the right to a seat for life.  That no one is stopping them standing as independents but that if they wish to retain the Labour nomination then they have to accept a democratic election.  Further that members of CLPs have the right to decide on who should represent them.  This was the demand of the Bennite campaign for democracy.

There were also a series of policy options that could have been announced.  Be it proposals to increase tax on the wealthy and companies or tacklinig the housing crisis with an emergency programme to build council housing coupled with rent controls and security of tenure in the private sector.  A pledge to immediately nationalise the railways and to take the utility companies into public hands, thus erasing fuel poverty.  But above all welding all the above into a common theme, to reverse the Tory redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich.  Instead Corbyn’s office chose to appease the Right.  Yes the right-wing press would have screamed as Mandy Rice Davies once said, they would wouldn’t they?  Clear radicalism would have chimed with a large section of the electorate.  There are also two other areas where Corbyn has fallen down.

Anti-Semitism/Israel/Palestine
Shai Masot - Israeli Embassy's Political Officer was engaged in 'taking down' politicians hostile to Israel
Let’s be blunt.  Beginning with Corbyn himself in the summer of 2015, there have been constant accusations of anti-Semitism.  We have been told that the Labour Party is plagued by anti-Semitism yet no one has ever found any evidence.  The few paltry allegations that had been made were comprehensively debunked by Electronic Intifada journalist, Asa Winstanley.

People like Jackie Walker have been traduced by Zionist activists and agents.  I use the term agents deliberately.  I have no doubt that Jeremy Newmark, the Chair of the so-called Jewish Labour Movement has worked hand in hand with the Israeli Embassy.  The JLM even took its new Director, Ella Rose, directly from the Embassy.  When challenged over their links by Asa Winstanley in September, Newmark said it would be ‘rather odd’ it would be if the JLM didn’t have links.
Despite their denials, Duncan was the target of the Israeli Embassies political work
The forthcoming Al Jazeera documentary, parts of which have already been revealed, are likely to be explosive.  We already know that the Israeli Embassy’s political officer, Shai Masot, was discussing ‘taking down’ Deputy Foreign Secretary, Alan Duncan, who has long been a supporter of the Palestinians.  There is, I understand, much more to come including the £1m made available for trips to Israel by Labour MPs.  I have been saying for a year now, in speeches up and down the country, that it is inconceivable that both the Israeli and American embassies were not involved in the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign.   In a speech I gave at the Boycott Israel Network conference on November 5th I said this, in answer to a question:

I mean, someone asked about Mark Regev and the Israeli embassy, I don’t think Mark Regev began it but certainly he’s involved in it. If you look at it from this perspective, when Corbyn was elected or seemed likely to be elected to the Labour leadership, I imagine panic set in, not just in the Israeli embassy but the US embassy. Britain is the closest ally of the United States in Europe, the special relationship; the idea that someone who is anti-Nato, anti-Trident and so on, with his record, I would be amazed if the CIA and the Intelligence Agencies weren’t doing something. I mean that’s what they’re paid to do all over the world; why not in Britain? It would be bonkers if they didn’t; they would be failing in their duties, so, yes, of course they have been behind this campaign.
Corbyn has cultivated a Jesus like persona of never engaging in personal attacks and turning the other cheek, but he forgets that even Jesus drove the sinners out of the temple with whips.  There comes a time when being nice to your opponents is a sign of weakness not strength. 

When the fake anti-Semitism allegations first surfaced it was Corbyn himself who was the target of these allegations.  He was accused of associating with a holocaust denier, Paul Eisen.  There then followed a series of bogus accusations – Gerald Kaufmann, then Oxford University Labour Club, Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and other individuals including myself and finally the Chakrabarti inquiry was set up which found no evidence of anti-Semitism.  But far from laying the matter to rest, the Right persisted and only two weeks ago Corbyn accepted a definition of anti-Semitism which conflates anti-Semitism with opposition to Israel and Zionism.  Given Corbyn’s 30 year record of support for the Palestinians, his failure to stand up against these bogus allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ is inexplicable.

Corbyn could have made a simple response that would have taken the poison out of this fake, Israeli Embassy driven campaign.  He should have said that yes, he condemned unreservedly anti-Semitism and indeed all forms of racism.  But he should have also made it clear that he condemned false allegations of anti-Semitism against anti-racists and anti-Zionists.  He should have said that it was monstrous to abuse the memory of those who died in the Holocaust in order to defend Israeli racism.  Despite having been accused of anti-Semitism himself, Corbyn failed to rise to the challenge.  In failing to stand up to the bogus allegations of anti-Semitism and simply repeating that he wasn’t an anti-Semite, he encouraged his detractors.  It didn’t occurr to him that the ‘anti-Semitism’ that his critics talked about is criticism of Zionism and their Jewish supremacist state, Israel.  It has nothing to do with hatred of Jews as Jews.

Momentum has not only failed to campaign against the suspensions but by removing Jackie Walker as Vice-Chair, Lansman actively helped the Jewish Labour Movement and Israeli Embassy's witch hunt.  Lansman has consistently defended the JLM and argued that there was substance to the allegations, even though this has been shown to be untrue.  When Jackie was secretly recorded at a 'training' session of the JLM at Labour conference saying she hadn't yet heard of a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with and then accused of anti-Semitism, instead of defending her Lansman went out of his way to defend Newmark.  In the Guardian he was quoted as saying:  'spoke to Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Labour Movement this morning, he’s very upset and I can understand that.'  The idea that a seasoned operator like Newmark, who was all but accused of perjury by an employment tribunal, was 'upset' by the remarks Jackie made, which were spun by the JLM to suggest anti-Semitism, is absurd.  Newmark who had engaged in race baiting Jackie for months, because she was Black-Jewish and anti-Zionist would have been delighted.

Lansman is known to believe himself to be very clever and a smart political operator. If that is the case then one can only assume that he was aware of the links between the JLM and the Israeli Embassy and that he acted accordingly.  Either he was stupid or consciously acting to further the agenda of foreign embassies.  Either way he should depart.

Brexit

Brexit could have offered Labour unimagined opportunities.  Instead it appears determined to be caught on the wrong foot.  I make no apology for being a strong supporter of Remain.  The idea that an independent British capitalism is preferable to European capitalism is not one that I find particularly attractive.  In the wake of the Brexit vote, there has been a massive increase in racist attacks.  Those who believed it was ushering in an age of enlightenment are sadly misinformed.
Many of those who voted for Brexit did so because they saw immigration as the cause of their problems.  Communities which Thatcherism laid to waste, the former mining communities of the North-East in particular, saw in Brexit a means of reversing the effect of Thatcherism.  It is our job not to pander to these sentiments but to make it clear that leaving the European Union, could well have a devastating effect on Britain’s economy.  The fact that it was bought with the lie that the NHS would benefit by about £300m a week, merely adds salt to the wound.

The Labour Rights is split over Brexit tactics with some like Tom Watson happy to exit the single market and others wanting a second referendum.  A clear message from Corbyn and McDonnell that Brexit and possibly the break-up of Europe is in no-one’s interests, that freedom of movement has helped not hurt Britain’s economy and that having now had a foretaste of what Brexit will be like, with the devaluation of the pound, that people are indeed entitled to a rethink once the outline of negotiating terms are agreed.  Access to the single market should be the touchstone of Labour’s strategy.

If this analysis is pessimistic it is because I am pessimistic as to Corbyn’s future.  It seems like the clock is ticking.  The Right is still in power, if not in office.  The failure to control Labour’s civil service is a devastating mistake.  That is why a minor struggle over voting methods is symbolic of much greater struggles ahead.


Tony Greenstein 

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