I genuinely wish you the best of luck with IR. Undoubtedly you will meet and work with some excellent and dedicated comrades from the Spanish State.
However, I am obliged to warn you about the
leadership of IR. I and my comrades from the CWI have been loyal and
dedicated members of IR for almost two years. During the debate in the
CWI we opposed the reckless policy of the IR leadership which from the
outset was to split the most successful Trotskyist international since
We produced a political document which was never answered
by the IR leadership yet we were condemned across the whole of the CWI
for supposedly ‘breaking democratic centralism’ and being Mandelites.
Last month we were bureaucratically expelled in a discussion and via
WhatsApp in one case.
We were given no written charges and we
have no right of appeal. This goes against the democratic traditions of
the CWI and indeed Trotskyism. I was a branch committee member and top
subs payer and paper seller yet I was not informed that my CC members
were secretly plotting behind my back to expel me.
This is an unhealthy bureaucratic internal regime which is NOT attractive to young workers and working class people in general. Such methods will never build a mass revolutionary party which is absolutely necessary and possible in the Spanish State.
More details about our expulsions from Izquierda Revolucionaria here
John Hird, Viki Lara and Rob MacDonald, members of Izquierda Revolucionaria have been summarily expelled without any written reasons, accusations or charges. In the case of John Hird, he only discussed it with his CC member individually who informed him of his expulsion with “immediate effect”. His CC member even refused to say what the discussion was about beforehand despite being asked several times. We find all this un-comradely and very questionable.
In the case of Viki Lara, she was contacted by the CC comrade responsible for IR in the region to arrange a discussion about “the situation of the Mexican section and the repercussions in the Spanish section”. The discussion was arranged first to be held after a branch meeting on Saturday evening, and later the CC member tried to move it to a different time before the branch meeting, clearly with the intention of getting the expulsion over with before the branch meeting. It was only after Viki realised what the real “repercussions in the Spanish section” would be, that she requested the discussion should take place during the branch meeting, which was agreed.
Rob was also continuously summoned to a phone meeting without being informed of the real nature of the discussion but with the pretence it was just about party work. Rob was unable to arrange this but suggested a time a week ahead when the intense activity in his political art projects would have been less. After hearing through John of his expulsion he asked the question openly inside the IR WhatsApp group as to why John had been expelled and explaining that due to mistrust in the past Rob requested the issues be explained openly in front of membership. After being denounced on WhatsApp Rob was then deleted from all internal groups. We assume that Rob has also been expelled.
We were also informed that there is no right of appeal against our expulsions. If that is the case, it would be unique in the Trotskyist movement and goes against the norms of democratic centralism, especially in a party operating under legal conditions, but even under certain semi-legal clandestine conditions as was illustrated by the Bolsheviks when they were still operating as a faction in the RSDWP and afterwards. In our tradition in the CWI any comrade who is expelled, is always entitled to appeal to the higher bodies of the party, including the international bodies up to the world congress.
We understand there is an EC resolution calling for our expulsion but we have not been given a copy. The resolution was signed on 31 May, which was after John’s expulsion and the first contacts with Viki by her CC member. Clearly, going by the actions of the IR leadership, no opposition is tolerated in IR and this unfortunately is the reason for a number of expulsions from IR over the years.
The tradition of the Bolsheviks and in the CWI until this dispute occurred, was to allow sufficient time to listen to the arguments, digest them and to try to convince the other side even if that takes a number of months or years and events to clarify the issues.
There are many trends in society and in the workers’ movement and maximum unity and proletarian discipline is required in the face of the class enemy. However, democracy, which needs patience and political understanding, is not a petty-bourgeois luxury for the workers movement, but an objective necessity to obtain voluntary proletarian unity.
Of course the revolutionary party aims to group together the most developed and class conscious workers, youth and other layers ready to put themselves fully on the standpoint of the working class. Nevertheless the revolutionary party should reflect this desire for proletarian unity and while in some cases splits and expulsions are inevitable, they should only be as a last resort and after exhausting the discussion.
We understand that the EC are saying an ‘agreement’ they had with Eric, from the Belgian CWI and the CWI majority, concerning the militancy of John, Viki and Rob was broken by the intervention of André F from CWI-Brazil in Mexico. We raised that with Eric. He says: “I asked at the Spanish EC following the IR congress what leaving the CWI meant for Rob, Viki and John who were clearly in opposition to that move and supporting the coordination. In response to that question the Spanish EC confirmed that the three comrades were welcome as long as they loyally build IR. A remark was made by JIR on John not contributing to the financial appeal at the congress, which I proposed the comrades should raise with John himself. That’s it.”
Eric says there was no ‘agreement’ made, except for the obvious one of staying in contact and exchanging major political documents and solidarity work, and that he would not have had a mandate to make one anyway. He himself intervened in the IR congress in Madrid stating his and the coordinations’ position, just like André did in Mexico. At the time of his participation in the congress this was not seen as hostile, but as a valuable, open and honest contribution to the debate, something the former allies of the IR leadership in the ‘Working Class and Trotskyist Committee for a Workers’ International’ Faction refused to do even though they were invited by the IR leadership to defend their position in front of the IR CC. At that time the IR leadership raised on several occasion their disappointment over this refusal.
We have been loyal members of IR and participated in activities, tried to build the party, sold the paper, suggested and developed initiatives such as the Altsasu international solidarity campaign and paid substantial amounts in subs. Both Viki and John were members of their local executives and held posts within the branch.
Rob’s case was slightly different in that he has only been semi active due work projects, but also due to the previous disagreements politically and organisationally with the IR in Barcelona. It is noted the whole of the previous group of CWI SR Barcelona left or resigned very shortly after unification, all due to the internal methods of IR. Despite this Rob stayed loyal to the organisation albeit less active than before in the hope of internal change after a period inside the CWI. We will also develop these points later.
We can only guess the IR leadership are panicking because some Mexican comrades do not agree with splitting from the CWI. This has been twisted and termed a ‘hostile act’ by the leadership of IR in the Spanish state. We feel like it is as if we have fallen victim to collective punishment for IR being incapable of convincing every member of the Mexican section to follow the course advised by the leadership in Spain.
We hope our fellow rank and file comrades who we have been proud to struggle alongside over the last two years, agree we must have the democratic right to appeal against these expulsions.
We wrote a document during the CWI dispute questioning the position of the IR leadership. We characterised their active support for the ‘Working Class and Trotskyist Committee for a Workers’ International’ Faction as unprincipled as was borne out by subsequent events and we openly said their enthusiastic agitation to split the CWI was incorrect, irresponsible and destructive. Our document has never been answered politically in a sober and measured way. Instead, we were accused in a dramatic and over the top way, across the whole international of being ‘opportunist’ and having committed ‘a gross violation’ of democratic centralism. This has never been explained by the leadership of IR. Ironically, in their response, the Spanish leadership took issue to our references to comrades being disciplined or expelled for maintaining a different position to the leadership and they said we were accusing them of anti-democratic methods. We were also told we put personal friendships above the structures of the party and used informal methods. We believe the leadership of IR took a denunciatory, ultimatist and hearsay attitude in the international debate using Facebook snapshots, Facebook attacks etc and twisting facts. The very nature of our undemocratic, informal expulsions, which go against all the norms of democratic centralism shows we were correct to raise these issues in our document.
Today, we have been undemocratically expelled without receiving any official resolution or vote of the organisation of which we are a part of. We believe this is payback for us, as rank and file members of IR for daring to question the leadership.
The history of the worker’s movement teaches us that when a leadership resorts to expulsions in such a way, it is because it wishes to avoid confronting difficult political issues it has no confidence of resolving in its favour in front of the membership. Expulsions never solve political disagreements and are a reflection not of the strength of the leadership but precisely their weakness. We implore our rank and file comrades who have seen our political work and commitment to revolutionary ideas not to go along with our expulsion or look the other way. Tomorrow it could be you….
In the future we will go into more detail and analyse our experience in IR. For now we want to salute the rank and file workers and youth in the IR who we consider are still our comrades. These comrades have managed to mobilise thousands onto the streets through LyCs and SE.
We appeal to you our comrades to protest to the leadership about our expulsions and support our democratic right to discuss the issues in front of the whole membership.
NO TO THE EXPULSIONS OF JOHN HIRD, VIKI LARA AND ROB MACDONALD!
STOP ARBITRARY EXPULSIONS NOW! FOR THE RIGHT OF APPEAL!
FOR A COMBATIVE PROLETARIAN PARTY OF ACTION BASED ON THE PRINCIPLES OF WORKERS’ DEMOCRACY!
Durante el curso de esta semana John Hird, Rob MacDonald and Viki Lara hemos sido expulsados de Izquierda Revolucionaria sumariamente y sin derecho a apelar.
Protestamos enérgicamente contra esta decisión tomada por la dirección de IR ya que nos consideramos militantes sinceros y dedicados a la construcción de Izquierda Revolucionaria en los últimos años y orgullosos de participar en la muy valiosa intervención de IR en el movimiento obrero.
En un próximo documento haremos un análisis más amplio de esta cuestión.
The international campaign in solidarity with the ALTSASU Eight has spread far and wide. As well as hundreds of signatures on the petition in Euskal Herria and the Spanish State, socialists, trade unionists and young people around the world are also showing solidarity.
Solidarity with Altsasu 8 from CWI in China, Hong Kong & Taiwan
On February 4th Dublin City council passed a resolution calling for the release of the Altsasu 8. The motion was proposed by Solidarity Councillor and Socialist Party member Michael O’Brien who received support and advice from Dublin and Brussels based Basque solidarity activists as well as from his comrades in the Socialist Party’s sister group in the Committee for a Workers International Euskal Herria Sozialista.
The resolution deplored the continuing policy of the Spanish State of dispersing Basque prisoners to the farthest extremities of the Spanish State and:
Furthermore, along with Amnesty International and 50 MEPs, notes with alarm the case of the Altsasu eight young people who following an altercation with two off duty Guardia Civil in a bar in 2016 have been found guilty of ‘disobeying authority’ charges (under appeal) resulting in severe jail sentences
joins the calls of others internationally for their immediate release and the withdrawal of the charges
resolves to communicate the terms of this motion to the Spanish Ambassador and the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Chief Executive of the Dublin City Council is now obliged to write to the Spanish Ambassador in Dublin and the Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee for Foreign Affairs which we hope will generate further publicity and embarrassment for the Spanish State Establishment and provide a boost for the prisoners, the Altsasu 8 and their respective families. We hope similar motions are passed by other local government bodies internationally as well as in trade union organisations to add to the pressure for a settlement of the prisoner dispersal scandal and the release of the Altsasu 8.
Major, Blair and Brown playing the establishment part
Jeremy Corbyn was predictably attacked by the Daily Heil for looking ‘scruffy and disrespectful’ at the Cenotaph this year. When the ruling class fear the possibility of a Left Labour government any line of attack is legitimate.
Thirty seven years ago the MSM carried out an almost identical attack on the then Labour leader Michael Foot.
Thatcher, praying for a war in 1981 to go up in the polls
Foot was accused of wearing a donkey jacket to the Remembrance Day service in 1981. A right wing Labour MP said he was, “disgusted to see that the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition looked more like an Irish navvy than a party leader”.
Years later the Telegraph admitted that the attack on Foot had been unfair. According to Foot’s official biographer, Lord Morgan, the coat was not a donkey jacket – which would have leather shoulders – but a “a short, blue-green overcoat” bought for Mr Foot by his wife, Jill at considerable expense.
It was no accident the Tories and the Labour Right-wing through their kept press accused Foot of wearing a donkey jacket and looking like an Irish navvy. Thatcher was low in the polls and they needed to undermine Foot, so any means was necessary. It was also significant that they tried to link Foot to the way working class people dressed at the time, as a couple of years previously thousands of local authority workers, many in donkey jackets had been striking for decent pay. The Tories hated Foot’s opposition to nuclear weapons but they hate the working class more.
Ex-political editor of the Guardian Michael White @michaelwhite first attacked Corbyn’s sartorial choices in 2015 when he asked the question, Jeremy Corbyn: is the world ready for his socks and sandals? In a bizarre article White mused: “I woke this morning after a good night’s sleep to face a nagging question in my head. Did Jeremy Corbyn use to wear open-toed sandals around Westminster in hot weather? Does he still? They’re comfy (I wear them myself), but ridiculous. If memory serves, he wore them with socks, white socks even”.
Corbyn showing he is unfit to be PM by wearing socks with sandals
What is this obsession with the clothing of Left-wing Labour politicians? As Michael Rosen wrote in his poem, The War of Corbyn’s Coat
It’s not his coat they hate.
That’s not really their cause
What gets up all their noses?
He opposes all their wars.
The photo of Corbyn next to Theresa May is telling. Behind them are three former PMs in almost identical coats. Being members of the establishment like Major, Blair and Brown certainly are, brings a certain responsibility to ‘look the part, be the part’ as Proposition Joe said to Avon in The Wire.
The expensive clothes and formal, almost identical way most UK politicians dress expresses their consensus on the big issues of supporting capitalism and keeping the working class down. The look is meant to covey the power and uniformity of the elite. Jeremy Corbyn does not conform politically and is certainly not part of the political elite, so why would he turn up at the Cenotaph looking exactly like Major, Blair and Brown?
The ruling class have a long history of using clothes to differentiate themselves from the great unwashed. Look at the uniforms in the armed services and the rows of undeserved medals on the chests of Charles Windsor and his family.
Over one hundred years ago, Keir Hardie, the first Labour MP caused outrage when he turned up to the Gasworks (as he called Parliament) without a Top Hat! Hardie was clear that a Labour representative should not ape ruling class dress rules.
Top hats to be worn by all MPs is an official Rees-Mogg policy.
But it is not only the UK where clothes play a part in politics. When PODEMOS made their electoral breakthrough the young deputies turned up to parliament without ties and some of the men even had pony tails!
Alberto Rodríguez‘s rasta
The establishment parties were outraged. The morning TV magazine programmes spewed out attacks on the PODEMOS ‘hippies’. A conservative PP deputy Villalobos even expressed a fear she could catch fleas from a PODEMOS deputy who had rastas!
When it comes to clothes socialists and the Left can never please the establishment. A couple of years after Michael Foot was unfairly criticised for what he wore at the Cenotaph, a majority of socialist councillors were elected in Liverpool. The struggle of the City that Dared to Fight Thatcher is still a reference for those who want to implement Left-wing policies at a local level.
Militant leaders of Liverpool Council like Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn were accused of being ‘too flashy’ and wearing sharp suits. So, Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn are too scruffy and Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn were too smart…..
Maybe it is not really about the clothes and it is all about the socialist ideas…..
Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty, travelled across the country to examine the impact of austerity and also came to Newcastle…
This report is a damning condemnation of UK capitalism.
According to his research, 14 million people – a fifth of the population – live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basics essentials.
Alston interviewed council leaders: “On the local authority budget cuts, Mr Alston told a press conference: “The leader of Newcastle told me ‘we have been reduced to emergency service provision, we don’t have the money to do anything more.
“Yet when I meet the Treasury they say it’s fine, these councils have a lot of money. It is totally an economic analysis that ignores the damage being done to society.”
Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, says he hopes the UN report will result in major changes.
He added: “Earlier this month I shared our city’s painful experiences of being a pilot for Universal credit, amid the wider impact of Government-ordered austerity.”
What is missing from the report is the lamentable role of ‘Labour’ councils, in passing on Tory cuts over many years to the people of the North East.
Nick Forbes can can condemn central government all he likes but what has he and the vast majority of ‘Labour’ councils done to fight back against the cuts?
In my home-town 57% voted to leave the EU. Gateshead is a borough where 27% of children are born into and live their lives in poverty.
Liberals, Tories, Blairites and #FBPE fanatics look down their noses at working class people who voted to leave the EU.
The campaign for a so-called #PeoplesVote is merely a continuation of the status quo which has put 14 million in poverty.
What is needed is a GENERAL ELECTION NOW to put a Jeremy Corbyn government In power which will implement policies which will benefit the people whose poverty is outlined in this devastating UN report.
Pablo Iglesias tonight enacted his own version on the Spanish State’s Article 155 and condemned and withdrew the declaration of PODEM (Podemos in Catalonia) ‘s support for the Catalan Republic by leader Albano Dante Fachin and called elections.
Pablo Iglesias returns to his Stalinist roots.
The struggle for a genuine mass party of the working class continues in the Spanish State.