The paradox of George Galloway

George_GallowayIt is fair to say that George Galloway is not universally popular.

It is therefore unsurprising that his attendance at a meeting with Ed Miliband was used by the increasingly desperate Blairites as ammunition to undermine the Labour leader. They claimed that Ed Miliband was preparing to welcome Galloway back into the Labour Party.

An article in last week’s Mail on Sunday quotes an unnamed source:

Labour MPs warned their leader against taking such action. ‘Galloway is a traitor,’ said one. ‘It’s naive lunacy for the leader to have anything to do with him. I thought he wanted to get rid of the Red Ed tag. He will rejoin Labour over my dead body.’

Of course, the meeting with Galloway is only one of a number of absurd issues currently being raised by the Blairites to undermine Ed Miliband. As Jon Lansman has remarked at Left Futures:

No sooner had David Miliband announced his departure from British politics than Blair, Mandelson, Milburn and other assorted “grandees“ started to attack his brother, without regard to the impending local elections. Cowardly right-wing shadow cabinet members are briefing anonymously against him on a daily basis too.

The results of the selection process for the short listed London euro candidates is also being challenged, but is about time that the Blairites realised that politics matters, and a candidate like Anne Fairweather who has briefed against extending employment rights to agency workers is not acceptable to many sections of the party, and its supporters.

According to Galloway himself, rejoining the Labour Party was not discussed.

Galloway’s recent meeting with Miliband led to speculation that the Respect MP wanted to return to the Labour party, from which he was expelled in 2003 after criticising Tony Blair over the Iraq war. Speaking exclusively to IBTimes UK, Galloway said he would not go into detail about his discussions with Miliband. “It was a private meeting,” he said.

“I categorically say my return to the Labour party wasn’t discussed. I have absolutely no desire to return to the Labour party.” Galloway claimed news of the meeting had been leaked by members of Labour’s Blairite faction, and Tony Blair himself was in on the plot.  

Nevertheless, what should really have been a storm in a tea cup about meeting Galloway, has gained wider traction.

The New Statesman reports how:

shadow international development secretary Ivan Lewis tweeted:

“Re Galloway being allowed to join Labour,more chance of finding Lord Lucan riding Shergar! @Ed_Miliband abhors his values+divisive politics”

And Mark Fergusson writes:

[Galloway] should be considered untouchable for any Labour leader. There are some places you just shouldn’t go – even for something as important as the boundaries vote. If George Galloway’s is the one vote you need to pass legislation then you need to look at getting the votes from elsewhere – or lose.

This needs a little bit of unpacking. There are two issues to consider, i) to what degree George is really outwith the broader labourist tradition; and ii) to what degree does the Labour Party have to cooperate with supporters of other political parties.

The second point is obvious, it is simply good politics to interact with other politicians for the common good. If Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness can work together, then is Labour’s self confidence and moral authority really so weak that it cannot overlook some triumphalism of George’s in the heat of contested by-elections? Fortunately Ed Miliband is a leader capable of better judgement.

George Galloway was a Labour MP for 16 years, for Glasgow Hillhead and then Glasgow Kelvin; while he has always been a colourful, and sometimes controversial figure, before the Iraq war his Labour Party membership was regarded as unproblematic. So just how broad a church has the Labour Party been traditionally?

Labour has been the main progressive political party in Britain for a hundred years, and is distinguished from European socialist parties by its close and organic links with the trade unions. However, the core, traditional working-class electoral base of the party has never been sufficient to win a general election on its own, and therefore its politics have always been coalitional in both aspiration and reality. Labour has always sought to be a party representing the best interests of the nation, not just of any particular class.

Nevertheless the relationship between the Labour Party and trade unionism has historically set the boundaries to both left and right of what is encompassed by the labourist envelope. It has provided an institutional link with communities of solidarity, and aspirations for social justice; and it has provided the iconography and mythology of an historic and progressive social movement. But while trade unionism seeks to mitigate the rule of capital, it is not necessarily antagonistic to the logic of capitalism itself, and British trade unions have rarely opposed foreign policy, including the historically rapacious role of the British Empire.

While Harold Wilson admirably kept Britain out of the Vietnam war, it is arguable that Tony Blair’s commitment to the objectives of US foreign policy in the Iraq war was regrettably consistent with the thrust of Labour foreign policy since the second world war, and it was the commendable depth of opposition to the war within the party and the unions that was arguably untypical: a new and welcome development.

Galloway’s expulsion from the Labour Party in 2003 was largely for forthrightly advocating anti-war positions that were widespread among people who would normally be targeted as Labour voters. The political phenomenon of the Respect Party is therefore best understood as a broadly labourist party which gave electoral expression to an anti-war political movement that could not find voice through the Labour Party in the particular context of the Iraq War.

It is not in that sense unique, and other minority parties have given expression to political sentiments not easily reconciled with labourism. Respect might be seen as analogous to the Common Wealth Party which won seats in the 1940s; or arguably even Plaid, which is also a largely labourist party but that also gives expression to Welsh political consciousness and aspirations.

However, despite the broad affinity between Galloway’s underlying politics and the labourist tradition, the last ten years has seen a widening and acrimonious divergence. This is partly the unavoidable to-and-fro of adversarial elections, but it has been exacerbated by a number of factors.

Firstly, Galloway’s intial election victory against Oona King in Bethnal Green took place in the near aftermath of the war where feelings were raw; and the attachment of many Muslims to the anti-war message of the Respect Party in the area also intersected with other local tensions, not helped by historical divisions in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party. It was this election that evoked the visceral dislike of Galloway from some of Labour’s more tribal loyalists.

Secondly, George Galloway has a high political profile bigger than his party, and has needed to build his own brand for both political and commercial reasons. George Galloway “the celebrity” is a media construct quite separate from the living, breathing and humanly fallible man himself. He has to maintain a payroll of aides and helpers, and since he left the Labour Party he has not worked within a disciplining framework.

George is always under intense scrutiny and there is harsh unforgiveness if he ever misspeaks or misjudges a situation. His remarks about Julian Assange’s allegations of rape were ill considered and poorly expressed for a man of his verbal talents; but not much more ill-considered than Tony Benn’s. Yet it started a moral panic against Galloway, where few were prepared to defend him.

It is further complicated because Galloway’s electoral USP is to hark back to the divisions in British society that were thrown open by the Iraq war; but not only the Labour Party, but also most of the electorate has moved on.

George is a robust politician, and he understands more than most the ruthless nature of the game. It is a contact sport, and the fact that the simplistic, media-created simulacrum of Galloway has become a pariah is not a fair reflection of the real life George Galloway, a man of considerable talent and principle. And for those who do vilify George, can they genuinely believe that Galloway is worse than the war criminals who lied about non-existent WMDs, and precipitated Britain into an illegal and amoral war in Iraq?

52 comments on “The paradox of George Galloway

  1. jock mctrousers on said:

    “…the fact that the simplistic, media-created simulacrum of Galloway has become a pariah is not a fair reflection of the real life George Galloway, a man of considerable talent and principle.”

    It’s not fair, and it’s not a fact. And if ” a few were prepared to defend him”, it might just because he didn’t need defending.

    Apart from that, great article. Only joking. No, there’s also:

    ” Galloway’s electoral USP is to hark back to the divisions in British society that were thrown open by the Iraq war; but not only the Labour Party, but also most of the electorate has moved on.”

  2. Having watched his performance on Press TV defending to the hilt the North Korean Regime which he admires for rejecting western mores if I caught his phrase correctly, I cannot see any justification for supporting this man.

    The regimes he currently supports include North Korea, Iran, Syria are all oppressive authoritarian regimes.

    North Korea is nothing more than a giant concentration camp. Full stop.

    Galloways only principle is Galloway.

  3. Howard Fuller: Having watched his performance on Press TV defending to the hilt the North Korean Regime which he admires for rejecting western mores if I caught his phrase correctly, I cannot see any justification for supporting this man.

    Perhaps Galloway seeks to understand regimes, their histories, cultures, and the concrete factors responsible for their development, instead of just dismissing them on the back of lazy sloganeering and rhetoric.

    Are you suggesting that there is nothing – nothing at all – positive about the DPRK? You think everything there is evil and regressive and worthy of nothing except being blockaded, isolated, and constantly threatened with total war?

  4. Red Kat on said:

    George Galloway doesn’t support the regimes of N Korea, Syria or Iran the point he makes is it’s better to try to have a dialogue with these dictators and attempt to come up with a solution rather than wade in and bomb innocent children, women and men. I think he is a very brave and principled man often putting himself in great danger from all sides. I think he genuinely tries to understand and respect other people’s beliefs and cultures. I can also see why he ‘admires’ any country that stands up to the US, that in it’s own right is admirable even if the rest of a regime stinks to high heaven and offends every sense that we have regarding human rights abuses and freedoms.I wish our governments had the guts to turn their back on the US as we are now hopelessly embroiled in their dirty campaigns all over the globe.I wonder how many people around the world know that the British people did not want the war in Iraq, that we tried enmass to stop it? I hate being branded by the rest of the world as an anti-islamist because our government acted against the wishes of the people. I feel that George Galloway is redressing the balance, I hope ordinary people in the Middle East know that some of us are on their side and are appalled by the actions of our government in their countries.

  5. Howard Fuller on said:

    John: Are you suggesting that there is nothing – nothing at all – positive about the DPRK? You think everything there is evil and regressive

    Yup. Everything is oppressive and regressive. Perhaps you haven’t noticed how many people starve to death because of the regimes insanity. Nothing to do with blockades.

    As for the Kims, Stalinist Kings of a corrupt and war-mongering regime. They are the ones who indulge in banal slogans and unreadable rhetoric

    Red Kat: George Galloway is redressing the balance

    No he isn’t. He’s part of the problem, as are you it would seem with a lazy outdated Marxist view of “anti-imperialism”.

    The Tunisian unions fighting the salafists and the Egyptian opposition against the Brotherhood should be getting our support.

    http://howiescorner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/tunisian-unions-on-front-line-against.html

    http://howiescorner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/time-to-end-death-threats.html

  6. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    Galloway is outside of Labourism in one respect (pardon the pun) only.

    Labourism is a broad church in which you can say and do many things, even things that are diametrically opposed to each other.

    You can be for a monarchy or for a republic.

    You can advocate the nationalisation of the top 200 monopolies.

    You can shmooze with foreign despots or denounce them.

    You can criticise British imperialism, though few do.

    You can even, to an extent, verbally oppose Britain’s wars.

    But what is completely beyond the pale for Labour is to support the victims of British imperialism when they fight back.

    That’s why Galloway was expelled and it’s why he’ll never be let back in (even if he wanted to).

  7. Howard Fuller: Perhaps you haven’t noticed how many people starve to death because of the regimes insanity. Nothing to do with blockades.

    Well quite so, but what you describe as “insanity” also has a rational kernal, when located in the context of DPRK’s history and relationships with the outside world, and the WPK rules not purely by repression, but also by mass participation in its social structures.

    We don’t need to support or condone the DPRK to see that ensuring a peaceful outcome would be easier if we could “walk a mile in Kim Jung Un’s shoes”, and see the world from his perspective.

    For all thehorrors and comic opera absurdity of Ruritania with rockets, there is a nostalgic and perverse simplicity about the DPRK, and there are for example political currents in the Republic of Korea who do admire the DPRK’s pristine and uncomplicated model of nationalism and independence.

    What we all need to work towards is a soft landing, that does involve neither war nor social collapse. lazy sloganising in the West is an obstacle to progress if it constrains the USA – the only power with any room for manouvre – from making the pragmatic necessary compromises with Pyongyang.

  8. Howard Fuller on said:

    Andy Newman: What we all need to work towards is a soft landing, that does involve neither war nor social collapse.

    A pity you do not take that view over the Middle East so we can seek a peaceful two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    Its too easy to “sloganise” as you put it about one side.

    That’s why I support Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP) which seeks to bring workers on both sides together through the unions.

    http://www.tuliponline.org/

    North Korea has links with Iran who back Hamas who with their missiles remind me of……

  9. Howard Fuller: A pity you do not take that view over the Middle East so we can seek a peaceful two state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    I don’t oppose a two state solution, neither do I advocate it.

    My view is that – having vistited the West Bank and Israel – and engaged with conversations with a number of Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, that neither a one state nor a two state solution is viable without a sea change of Israeli attitude, in particular becasue the scale of settlement in the West Bank makes a two state solution impossible.

    It is Israel that is locked into a policy of permanant war by continuing the annexation of East Jerusalem and the colonial settlement of the West Bank.

    Howard Fuller: North Korea has links with Iran who back Hamas who with their missiles remind me of……

    Did you intend to post this here? it would fit better on the thread about conspiracy whackos

  10. Howard Fuller: That’s why I support Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP) which seeks to bring workers on both sides together through the unions.
    http://www.tuliponline.org/

    i just looked at that, and it is the most preposterous load of nonsense i have ever seen.

    It mentions opposing the “apologists of Hamas and Hexbollah” as being an obstacle to a two state solution.

    Let us be clear that a two state solution would have been acheivable after Oslo, but ISRAEL prevented moved towards peace. It was the frustration of Olso by Israel which led to Fatah losing the election, and it was Israel who prevented Fatah politicans leaving the West Bank to campaign in Gaza for a two state compromise.

    It is Israel who has annexed East Jerusalem – without which a viable economy cannot be created for a Palestinian state , and it is Israel that maintains half a million illegal settlers in the West Bank, linking them with a road and civic infrastructure to Israel by an east-west axis that intersects the natural north-south axis of the West Bank’s economic geography. It is Israel that doesn’t recogrnise deeds of land ownership in the West Bank that derive from later than the British mandate; and it is Israel that imposes ridiculous requirements for paperwork on exports from Palestine through Israeli ports. It is Israel who deliberately prevents and impedes the development of a national economy in the west bank that would be a precondition for a viable two state solution.

    Unlike you I suspect, I have vistied Palestinian trade unionists linked to Fatah in their homes and union offices in the West Bank, and it is Israel they blame, not “apologists for Hamas and Hezbollah” for lack of progress to peace.

    Indeed one Fatah union office I visited had a huge picture proudly displayed of a shop steward who had acted as a suicide bomber for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. And these are the trade unions who would accept a two state solution; it seems you dont really care about their opinions.

    If you want peace based upon two states why don’t you campaign against the people preventing it hapening: the Israeli government.

  11. jock mctrousers on said:

    Howard Fuller: Perhaps you haven’t noticed how many people starve to death because of the regimes insanity. Nothing to do with blockades.

    This is your biggest hit, Howie – I too couldn’t let it pass. As I recall from reading several books and articles by Bruce Cummings (the US probably#1 N.Korea expert), HE didn’t feel confident to make an estimate of the scale and scope of the famines, but he was sure they were hugely exaggerated by the West’s propaganda mill.

    So what’s YOUR source, Howie? Do you have a source for the exact figures (and explanation of how they were arrived at) for how many were killed by the Kims’ insanity (and evidence that they have all been clinically insane, not just in the cute colloquial sensed usually applied to leaders who don’t prioritise Western financiers over their own population), as opposed to their (for instance)misjudgment, and of course as opposed to the extremely extremed blockade?

    Links to sources please. Or books even – please don’t link to the first few scary propaganda blockbusters you find on Amazon.

    Howard Fuller: That’s why I support Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP) which seeks to bring workers on both sides together through the unions.

    Another big hit, Howie. I just noticed that Andy beat me to it on this one too. Andy’s already said it all.
    What a joke! How many Palestinians have steady jobs? What’s the record of the Israelis trade unions on racism? Just more zionist ‘peace-process’ bull for the propaganda mill.

  12. John Grimshaw on said:

    Well the Tulip website is a laugh aminute. The founder member is Michael J. Leahy OBE, and here are his credentials as posted.

    “Michael J. Leahy, OBE, is General Secretary of Community (United Kingdom).

    Born in Pontypool, South Wales, Married with two sons, Michael began his career as the youngest branch representative at the age of 16 and Sheet Trade Board representative at 17 years of age at the Panteg Works, South Wales. Michael, then started his full-time career as an Organiser in 1977, progressing to Senior Organiser, 1992-1993; Assistant General Secretary, 1993-1998; General Secretary Elect 1998-1999; General Secretary, 1999 to
    date. Michael’s main responsibilities are managing the Union and its employees, together with developing and implementing the strategic plans for the union, legal services & communications. Michael has been a Labour Party member since 1966 and is dedicated to working with the Government on new legislations and initiatives to the benefit of our members and communities as a whole.
    Michael is a Member of the General Council and Executive Member of the TUC and Executive Member of the GFTU and EMF. Michael is also President of the Steel and Non-Ferrous, IMF British Section and Chairman of the National Trades Union Steel Coordinating Committee. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Central Arbitration Committee, Materials UK Board, British Steel Enterprise Board and President of The Welsh Trust for Prevention of Abuse.”

    Other than the fact that he is obviously a standard model right-wing bureaucrat his cv clearly indicates he works with the “government”. I am unclear whether this is the Labour Party, the Con-Dems or the Israeli government.

  13. John Grimshaw on said:

    If I remember correctly the ISTC was one of the main sell out unions in the miners strike?

  14. stephen marks on said:

    Andy Newman: what you describe as “insanity” also has a rational kernal, when located in the context of DPRK’s history and relationships with the outside world

    then why does the same not apply to Cuba which is also isolated and blockaded by the USA?

    Andy Newman: the WPK rules not purely by repression, but also by mass participation in its social structures.

    In a totalitarian political system the two are not alternatives – repression is used to produce ‘mass participation’. What sanctions do you think might be applied to those unwise enough to choose not to ‘participate’?

  15. stephen marks on said:

    Andy Newman: What we all need to work towards is a soft landing, that does involve neither war nor social collapse. lazy sloganising in the West is an obstacle to progress if it constrains the USA – the only power with any room for manouvre – from making the pragmatic necessary compromises with Pyongyang.

    Yes this is certainly true. Chinese academics and think-tank personnel I met when I was last in Beijing were privately exasperated at the ham-fisted nature of US diplomacy and gave me examples of where a quiet word in Pyongyang’s ear about North Korea’s dependence on Chinese energy supplies had been effective in moderating N.Korea’s attitude, only to have their good work negated by some public blustering from Washington.

    Isobel Hilton has argued that the civilian leadership are amenable to cooperating in a ‘soft landing’ and are fearful of the disruptive effect on China’s stability of an influx of Koprean refugees following a collapse; but opposition comes from the military leadership who value N.Korea as a buffer state – an attitude which is of course reinforced by the US military response.

    I do wonder sometimes if the US does not see itself as having a vested interest in maintaining the partition of Korea as a united Korea would have no further need for US bases and, once it had overcome the cost of mending the North’s economic basket-case, would be an economic powerhouse and another Asian rival to the US.

  16. stephen marks: then why does the same not apply to Cuba which is also isolated and blockaded by the USA?

    Three million Koreans killed in the war, operpetual military manouvres by the USA and ROK on their borders, and a number of other factors that I have discussed at length before.

    http://socialistunity.com/north-korea-we-must-break-out-of-the-cycle-leading-to-war/

    But I don’t understand your point. Do you think we are better off NOT trying to understand the WPK’s perspective?

    stephen marks: In a totalitarian political system the two are not alternatives – repression is used to produce ‘mass participation’. What sanctions do you think might be applied to those unwise enough to choose not to ‘participate’?

    Generally people refer to “totalitarianism” as an alternative to thinking. Without specific study of how DPRK society works I wouldn’t like to speculate, but even in the extreme example of nazi Germany, non participation was not punished.

  17. stephen marks: I do wonder sometimes if the US does not see itself as having a vested interest in maintaining the partition of Korea as a united Korea would have no further need for US bases and, once it had overcome the cost of mending the North’s economic basket-case, would be an economic powerhouse and another Asian rival to the US.

    The cost of reunification would be stratospheric, and I am not sure the ROK can afford it. I suspect that the USA’s stance dosn’t come from a geo-strategic game-plan, and is more linked to the need to appease 24 hour TV news channels

  18. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: the WPK rules not purely by repression, but also by mass participation in its social structures.

    I read something that caught my attention a while back – One of the main reasons why many younger people in the DPRK volunteer to attend those silly parades is that its one of the few forums where they can mix and hang out with the opposite sex away from the auspices of their parents…..combined with the free food.

  19. Howard Fuller on said:

    Andy Newman: I suspect that the USA’s stance dosn’t come from a geo-strategic game-plan, and is more linked to the need to appease 24 hour TV news channels

    Andy, that belongs on the thread about conspiracy theories!

    There are proven links between North Korea and Iran. Firstly in Missile technology and probably in Nuclear development as well.

    Hamas & Hezbollah are nothing more than pawns in Iran’s dangerous games in the battle for Middle East.

    There is nothing remotely progressive in these reactionary regimes and their terrorist proxies so I fail to see why you/any of your readers should give them any support whatsoever.

    Shalom.

  20. Chris on said:

    I’d let him back into the party. He should never have been expelled in the first place. He may have said a few things that offended people (cardinal sin on the modern left of course), but in broad terms he was right about Iraq and the Blairites were viciously, brutally, devastatingly wrong.

  21. Howard Fuller: There are proven links between North Korea and Iran. Firstly in Missile technology and probably in Nuclear development as well.

    Ditto the US and Israel, both of which constitute a far greater threat to peace in the Middle East and global security than NK and Iran.

  22. Marko on said:

    Didn’t Ivan Lewis vote for the Iraq mass slaughter?

    Didn’t he also send suggestive texts to a 24 year old woman (much younger than him), and wouldn’t this kind of behaviour possibly, in certain cases, be an indication of some character flaw, suggesting a possible predisposition to being a sexual predator and a pervert? I mean you can’t be too careful these days can you?

    Would these be the values that Ed Miliband embraces? Could you ask Ivan for me please?

  23. Howard Fuller on said:

    John: he US and Israel, both of which constitute a far greater threat to peace in the Middle East and global security than NK and Iran.

    Nope.

  24. Marko on said:

    The fact that the US has been busy bombing the shit out of the Middle East for the last decade or so would suggest a “Nope” really doesn’t cut the mustard. We don’t even need to imagine what the answer might be, the facts speak for themselves. A million dead Iraqi’s are evidence of this.

    Apologists need to phrase the question differently:

    Is peace in the Middle East a good or bad thing and if not, what should the war look like?

  25. Howard Fuller on said:

    Marko: Is peace in the Middle East a good or bad thing and if not, what should the war look like?

    Actually I was the one calling for a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict in the first place.

    We can argue about what happened in historical terms ad infinitum but the real need is to find a way forward for the future.

    There are in essence two peoples fighting over the same peice of land. How do we solve this?

    I would suggest that the “two state” solution is the answer for any immediate future. There are those on both sides who aould be against this, especially the extreme settlers in Israel and the Islamists amongst the Palestinians.

    They will oppose and try to undermine all attemepts at peace and reconciliation. It seems to me that a basic way forward is to promote co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian workers throught he trade unions whichshould at least be secualr in basis and allow for open and fruitful discussion.

    Its not going to easy and there will be many obstacles in the short term.

    I believe Israel must compromise on border issues and share jerusalem for starters. The rest will come with trust.

    Building peace from the bottom up.

    The question really is are you and the others who get involved want to achieve this or are you happy to sit in your armchairs typing posts with no real positive aim in sight?

    I still recommend TULIP. Their founding statement is quite clear in its attempts to try and resolve the problems faced by workers on both sides of the divide.

    Their mission statement reads:
    The solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is clear – and has been accepted in principle by both sides. Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, within secure and recognised borders, is the only workable solution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades.

    Israel has already taken a number of steps towards this goal, most notably by agreeing to the Oslo Accords in 1993 and later by the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and Gaza. Palestinian moderates lead by Mahmoud Abbas support this process.

    People of goodwill everywhere want a process to succeed delivering peace, justice and reconciliation. Trade unions can play a positive role here, and often do.

    The International Transport Workers Federation, for example, has done much to bridge the gap between transport workers unions in Israel and Palestine and to reach ground-breaking agreements. The International Trade Union Confederation has encouraged dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian national trade union centres. And individual unions in a number of countries have invited Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists to their conferences, helping to promote discussion and agreement.

    This is the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind – bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and reconciliation. It is a role we can be proud of.
    And yet in recent years, a number of national unions and trade union centres have changed course and abandoned that role. Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process. Some have gone so far as to deny Israel’s right to exist.

    A number of those unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed against Israel, and only against Israel. They are attempting to demonise the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it. Sometimes that hatred even spills over into anti-Semitism.

    Those unions are wrong – terribly wrong.

    We believe that the time has come for trade unionists around the world to join forces in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognised borders.
    There are already unions and associated NGOs in a number of countries which support this goal. But they are fighting this battle alone, each in their own country. It is time we united our forces.

    TULIP aims to do the following:

    1. Unite those groups – unions and NGOs – which are already fighting within the labour movement against the boycott of Israel and for genuine peace, justice and reconciliation.

    2. Produce a multilingual global website, print publications, and provide information and opportunities to begin the process of turning back the tide and encouraging unions to play a constructive role in the peace process.

    3. Work together with Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and associated NGOs to find ways to provide practical on-the-ground assistance — rather than empty slogans.

    At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targetting Israel.

    It’s time for trade unionists in all countries to go on the offensive ourselves, to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hizbollah in the labour movement.

    We have no illusions that this will be anything other than a long and difficult process. But we also know that we have no choice. We cannot abandon the field to those whose goal is the destruction of any chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace.

    We welcome trade unionists from all countries to join us.

    For further information: http://www.tuliponline.org/

    Lets build bridges for peace.

  26. vanya on said:

    #26 In other words you want to create a force within the labour movement to defend a racist apartheid system and demonise its victims when they try to resist it.

    You should be treated no differently to any of the reactionary filth who tried to undermine the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

    Now peace off.

  27. Howard Fuller on said:

    vanya:
    #26 In other words you want to create a force within the labour movement to defend a racist apartheid system and demonise its victims when they try to resist it.

    You should be treated no differently to any of the reactionary filth who tried to undermine the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

    Now peace off.

    I said and suggested nothing of the sort and you are obviously one of the people who will never seek a solution to the problems faced by ordinary working people on both sides of the divide.

  28. ShuggyLP on said:

    That TULIP statement is pretty disgusting in its one sidedness and obvious pro-Israeli standpoint. Their site bares this out. Nor do you have to be an ‘Hamas or Hezbollah apologist’ to recognize the Israeli governments own contribution to the lack of progress in the peace process! Bit disappointing to see a fellow PCS man link these jokers on my fave forum! And with elections coming up! Tut tut!

  29. Howard Fuller: At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targetting Israel.

    This is from the TULIP statement. Can you explain why advocating BDS makes someone an opponent of a two state solution?

  30. Marko on said:

    We can argue whether a one state or two state solution is the way to bring about genuine peace and reconciliation. Though it seems to me that the 2 state solution is giving up on that prospect and seeks a ‘realistic’ approach.

    But anyway, Fuller claims the US carnage in the Middle East is an historical event. I don’t think so! Clearly this character is an apologist, pure and simple, and couldn’t be any further away from being an individual to bring about peace and reconciliation.

    Don’t you just detest these Wolves in Sheep’s clothing!

  31. Andy Newman: This is from the TULIP statement. Can you explain why advocating BDS makes someone an opponent of a two state solution?

    The BDS movement simply continues the conflict. There are far too many people , particuarly on the left (including one or two posters here) that simply are stuck in a mindset that will not progress a real peace process.

    I am not uncritical of the current Israeli Governments approach, but BDS simply reinforces a siege mentality. Far better we all sit down and begin looking to the future.

    TULIP exists in part to redress the balance of the pro Hamas/genocidal tendency that currently mars the thinking of some (but not all) on the left.

    Marko seems confused in his response. What I argue is that if we are to move to a fair and equitable future than the past has to be put behind us, which is difficult after all conflicts.

    I offered compromise. Marko, Vanya and my anonymous critic in PCS have automaticaly rejected any on their side.

    Do you really want to see an end to this conflict? Sometimes I think not when I read comments like theirs.

    I want to see a two state solution with Palestinians and Israelis living alongside each other in peace.

    The enemies of peace exist on both sides.

    TULIP exists to bring workers together.

    The Israeli & Palestinian unions have a role to play. Together.

  32. Howard Fuller: I am not uncritical of the current Israeli Governments approach, but BDS simply reinforces a siege mentality. Far better we all sit down and begin looking to the future.

    Howard, it is hard to know whether you are arguing in good faith and are simply ill informed, or whether you are a wind up.

    The TULIP website falsely and dishnestly claims that Isreal signed up to a 2 state solution at Oslo, In fact the Israeli governemtn obstructed and disrupted every part of the Oslo agreement, and also launched an international campaign of misinformation to discredit the represenatives of the Palestinian authority.

    Howard Fuller: TULIP exists to bring workers together.
    The Israeli & Palestinian unions have a role to play. Together.

    So why is there no indication of support for TULIP by any Palestinian trade unions, and no indication of support by WAC, the Israeli union that organises Arabs?

    If you seriously want peace, then you need to criticise primarily the main obstacle of peace – which is Israel

  33. lone nut on said:

    “Israel has already taken a number of steps towards this goal, most notably by agreeing to the Oslo Accords in 1993″

    And who did it agree them with, pray tell? Is the PLO not worthy of a mention for taking “steps towards this goal”, especially since it had been advancing proposals for a two state solution for at least two decades before Oslo, all of them virulently rejected by Israel which tried to destroy the organisation and kill its leadership?

    “and later by the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and Gaza”.

    I am at a loss to see how Israel’s withdrawal (in fact, forced expulsion) from south Lebanon advances the creation of a Palestinian state (it’s worth noting that the withdrawal from Lebanon was to a considerable degree achieved through a significant mobilisation within Israeli civil society to that end – by people you would doubtless denounce as genocidal Hezbollah supporters). I am also at a loss as to how a “withdrawal” from Gaza (in fact a strategic redeployment,from direct engagement on the ground to a siege imposed by military force) which was deliberately not negotiated with any Palestinian party, and was described by Sharon’s key political advisor as supplying “the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians…. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem” represents a step towards the goal of a political settlement and a two state solution. And no honest person would remotely give any credence to such a claim.

    Let’s look at the current situation in the occupied territories, as summarised in a recent letter by such radical firebrands as Javier Solana, Lionel Jospin and John Bruton: “We have also noted with frustration and deep concern the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories,” they wrote. “We are therefore appealing to you, and through you to the members of the Council of Ministers, to recognize that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer.”

    The letter placed blame, notably, not only on Israeli settlements, but on Western policies themselves: “It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy… The steady increase in the extent and population of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, and the entrenchment of Israeli control over the [occupied Palestinian territories] in defiance of international law, indicate a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.”

    Isn’t it incredible that your so-called initiative, while filled with denunciations of BDS and utterly dishonest denunciations of supporters of Palestinian rights as supporters of genocide, has nothing to say about the situation on the ground in which Israeli landgrabs and lockdowns are destroying (and in the eyes of many, have already destroyed) the bases of any viable Palestinian state?

    And can you answer Andy’s point and give details of any representative Palestinian trades unionists anywhere who support this phony initiative?

  34. John Grimshaw on said:

    I know, I know, but I couldn’t resist. The Zionist Federation News which clearly supported TULIP in 2009 issued this statement recently. The repetition is not my mistake.

    “Zionist Federation News
    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    BARONESS THATCHER WAS A TRUE FRIEND OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE

    BARONESS THATCHER WAS A TRUE FRIEND OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE. We were deeply saddened to learn of Baroness Thatcher’s death. The ZF offers its sincere condolences to her family.

    Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green from 1959-1992 and Prime Minister from 1979-1990 was a true friend to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel.

    She was the first Prime Minister to make an official trip to Israel and energetically opposed the Arab boycott.

    Thatcher claimed her greatest accomplishment was her work as a child to help save a Jewish teenager in Austria from the Holocaust. In 1938, after correspondence with Margaret Thatcher’s sister, Muriel Roberts, Margaret and her sister set about raising funds for Edith, so she could move to England and escape the mass genocide of Jews in World War Two. During her time as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher frequently condemned Soviet Union officials for their treatment of Refuseniks.

    Paul Charney, Chairman of the ZF said, “Margaret Thatcher was a loyal friend to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Her continued defence of freedom and democracy worldwide was at one with Israel, the only stable and mature democracy in the Middle East.””

  35. Andy, Howard Fuller is clearly a zionist wind-up merchant. Personally I’m happy to have been singled out by him- ‘It is good when our enemy attacks us…’

  36. Howard Fuller on said:

    For the record I got involved in these issues during the Gaza conflict. I was appalled by protesters actions against Jewish firms and Synagogues (Streatham was daubed with anti-semetic slogans).

    If you recall a false/Spoof internet story arose about Starbucks and MacDonalds (I think) giving a percentage of their profits to the IDF.

    As a result I engaged in a fair amount of work in PCS around the problems of anti-Semitism. During the Deputy General Secretary election I published statements from Hugh Lanning and his rival in the Independent Left condeming anti-Semitism as did SP member Chris Baugh and his 4TM opponent Rob Bryson.

    However, I was and remain appalled at what seems to be not blatent anti-Semitism on the left (though it does arise as the expulsion of the former PSC Chair showed) but more by the fact its’ ignored. In part by groups and individuals who orientate towards Islamism and those who have notions of anti-imperialism which leads to their desire for the destruction of the state of Israel without even considering the consequences for the Jews who live there.

    One does not have to subscribe to “Zionism” to have genuine concerns about another holocaust.

    More to the point all of you have avoided the real point of my argument which is to bring workers together for peace, justice and a two state solution.

    Some comments are motivated by blind hate which is not healthy.

    So Andy I am certainly not here to wind people up, the term being a rather dishonest way of dismissing a viewpoint you and some might not agree with but to challenge the way the left looks at this issue.

    As a Branch Secretary of a union working daily on behalf of members I am acutely aware that there are times I seek compromise on peoples behalf or offer it when appropriate. I have to live in the real world.

    Too many people on the far left indulge themselves with arguments that can have no resolution except to split whatever group they are in to keep their concepts “pure”.

    We used to say that such people were left on the sidelines selling newspapers usually to each other. Now the internet has taken their place no one I know buys a paper anymore.

    The real choice is between a series of incremental reforms to better peoples lives
    (accepting there will be setbacks) or bloody revolution where too many people will get hurt and the “Party” ends up shooting its’ opponents, external, internal and imagined. Which sums up the whole history of Marxism.

    Be thankful Callinicos could only talk about “Lynch Mobs”.

    To surmise for now the real question is what future we want, in this case the Middle East. We need to move forward, bring workers together and then maybe there’ll be a chance of conflict resoltion that suits the majorities on both sides.

    Maintain your present course and only ordinary Israelis and Palestinians will suffer.

    Shalom.

  37. lone nut on said:

    Instead of blathering on about spoof internet stories, can you answer Andy’s point and give details of any representative Palestinian trades unionists anywhere who support TULIP? Can you point us to any statements from TULIP concerning “the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories,” or condemning “the steady increase in the extent and population of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, and the entrenchment of Israeli control over the [occupied Palestinian territories] in defiance of international law, indicate a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights”?

  38. Howard Fuller: I offered compromise. Marko, Vanya and my anonymous critic in PCS have automaticaly rejected any on their side.

    What a silly fantasist!

    Actually, you are not in a position (as far as I know) to offer any kind of “compromise”. And Marko, Vanya, and your anonymous critic are certainly not authorized either to accept or reject such offers. They are merely expressing their opinions.

    I know, however, that historically you have always tried to choose the Palestinians’ leaders for them. Perhaps that’s what confused you?

  39. Howard Fuller on said:

    Zaid: I know, however, that historically you have always tried to choose the Palestinians’ leaders for them. Perhaps that’s what confused you?

    How have I done that then?

    The unions are the ones who need bringing together and we can work towards that here.

    Of course you are right in me being a fantasist expecting ultra-leftists to compromise on anything.

  40. lone nut on said:

    details of any representative Palestinian trades unionists anywhere who support TULIP, please?

  41. Howard Fuller: The unions are the ones who need bringing together and we can work towards that here.

    But who are you bringing together and how?

    What Palestinian trade unionists have you engaged with?

    Even within Israel, what efforts have you made to bridge the gap between the explicitly Zionist Histadrut, and the Workers Advice Centers which represent Aab Israelis?

    All I see from TULIP is pro-Israeli propaganda aimed at trade unions outside the Middle East.

  42. Ryan: this meeting has me leaning to tear up my membership card.

    Oh really! I do suspect that the party would be ever so slightly better minus you & your leanings.

  43. Dr Paul on said:

    John Grimshaw: Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green from 1959-1992 and Prime Minister from 1979-1990 was a true friend to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel.

    I remember this right-wing Tory at one place where I worked leaning towards me in that way that people do when they are about to impart a scandalous secret, and saying: ‘There’s a bit too much Golders Green in Thatcher’s Cabinet.’ When I mentioned this to someone, I think an SWPer, he said that Thatcher was rather naive about the degree of anti-Semitism that still hung around the Tory Party.

    I’ve been doing some research on Thatcher’s hero Churchill, and have come to the conclusion that he was simultaneously a philo-Semite and an anti-Semite. A strong believer in race theory, with the Anglo-Saxons up at the top, his attitude towards Jews was interesting. He saw them, collectively as believers in race theory tend to do, as ‘beyond all question the most formidable and most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world’. Anti-Semitism is a peculiar racial prejudice because it is predicated on the idea that ‘the Jews’ are in certain key ways definitely superior, as opposed to other forms of racism, which largely brand other races as inferior.

    With Churchill, if a Jew was an upstanding citizen of Britain, then he would be on account of his inherent qualities a definite boon to the nation. This marked off Churchill from the commonplace anti-Semitism of his day. On the other hand, were a Jew an ‘International’ one, then he, again on account of his inherent qualities, was the most dangerous threat to the world as Churchill knew it. Trotsky was the chemically-pure example of the ‘International Jew’, and the sheer viciousness of Churchill’s portrait of him in Great Contemporaries, compared to the almost gentle treatment of Hitler (written after his taking power) is striking. His descriptions of Trotsky and the ‘International Jew’ were uncomfortably close to those of straightforward anti-Semites.

    Churchill was a staunch supporter of Zionism, as, like Balfour, he saw the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East as a real benefit for the Empire. As far as I can see, he did not foresee any problem vis-à-vis this state developing interests in conflict with those of British imperialism. Nevertheless, this support for Zionism was fully subordinate to his primary concern of the maintenance of the Empire, and was thus essentially instrumental in its nature.

    To return to Thatcher and the glowing tribute to her above, it will be interesting to see whether her attitudes on the question of race and ethnicity echo those of her hero. I shall have a look at the biographies.

  44. Dr Paul on said:

    To revert to the actual subject of this post, I have long found Galloway to be an infuriating figure. He can be brilliant; his demolition of the latter-day Christopher Hitchens was a masterpiece of constructive abuse. He has dealt with venal pro-war politicians here and in the USA with great aplomb. Yet he has made a complete twit of himself by being chummy with all manner of dodgy characters, and done things that can only undermine progressive causes. Respect has been from the start an opportunist lash-up, and, irrespective of its electoral successes, remains one of the least convincing things the left has cobbled together.

    I’ve never been in the Labour Party, so perhaps I’m not the best qualified to write about Galloway’s relationship with that body. However, when the party that expelled him was led at the time by the war-mongering liar Blair, surely that is more a reflection upon that party’s leadership than upon Galloway, who at least did loudly oppose the disastrous war on Iraq. And now, when the party is led by someone whom Galloway has not incorrectly called, as a previous post has stated, ‘a coward with the backbone of an amoeba’, one wonders if Galloway would wish to rejoin it.

    With Miliband at the helm, Labour could well and probably will lose the next general election. He is doing his best to ensure a Tory victory by default, which will only be averted by a big UKIP vote splitting the right-wing constituency. I very much doubt if Galloway rejoined it, Labour would do any better — or any worse.

  45. Vanya on said:

    Dr Paul: simultaneously a philo-Semite and an anti-Semite.

    More common than you would otherwise think. Then again neither religion nor race necessarally provide the best basis for logical thought, particularly in tandem.

  46. Vanya on said:

    Dr Paul: irrespective of its electoral successes, remains one of the least convincing things the left has cobbled together.

    It’s an electoral party that has an elected MP.

    Can you give other examples, other than the CP, ILP or Commonwealth Party decades ago?

    I know it’s not massively impressive particularly compared to other countries in Europe, but ‘impressive’ and ‘British Left’ are hardly terms one associates with each other are they?

  47. Dr Paul on said:

    Re Vanya above. I’m not so sure whether a simultaneous liking and disliking of any particularly ethnicity or nationality on the part of one person is so common. That’s why I find the striking thing with Churchill is the strength of both his anti-Semitism (towards Trotsky and the ‘International Jew’ which he represented in Churchill’s mind) and his philo-Semitism (towards patriotic British Jews). It’s ironic yet utterly logical, as both sentiments are based upon the same thing: his staunchly-held racial theories.

    What is much more common is that those who subscribe to race theories is that what makes one ‘race’ or ‘culture’ appealing for one person makes it repulsive for another. Both attitudes, diametrically opposed as they are, are predicated upon the same, utterly bogus, concept that people of a certain ‘race’ all share the same inherent characteristics.

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