"You were not the appropriate person..."
FRONT-PAGE billing for anti-fascist article in Morning Star after Socialist Worker had commissioned it, then refused to publish because of author's unspecified "differences".
WELL, the London elections are over and we'll know shortly whether Boris Johnson has become London's mayor and if the racist British National Party(BNP) has gained itself a place in the London assembly.
That large numbers of people were disillusioned with Labour and Ken Livingstone was becoming clear before, and shown not only by right-wing gains but by low votes in local elections, particularly in what should be strong Labour areas.
Add to this the failure of the divided Left to revive class consciousness, or offer a credible socialist alternative, the success of right-wing media and politicians in diverting frustration and resentment on to "immigration" as the source of all problems; and the way liberal media and other institutions have been collaborating, whether from conspiracy or mere cowardice, in giving the fascists and their arguments the respectability they have recently pursued.
With Labour committed to Washington's "war on terror", London suffered some of its worst ever terror attacks, while two daily papers stoke up Islamophobia on which the fascists have thrived.
Anti-racist campaigners have fallen back on phrases about "diversity", and appealed to people to turn out and vote less the low-turn out helped the fascists get the percentage they needed.
Yet even with such lowest-common denominator appeals to unity, the anti-racist and anti-fascist forces have remained divided, and unity has been given a low priority on the Left.
The May Day Morning Star yesterday carried an article by Dave Landau warning people not to be fooled by the BNP, which had placed a paid advertisement in the Ham and High (Hampstead and Highgate Express) and other local papers saying "people like you vote BNP".
Dave noted that the BNP is currently playing down its anti-Jewish (and we might add anti-Irish) past record in order to win more respectability (and votes), while concentrating on Islam as the main enemy. He also quoted a spokesperson for the Jewish Board of Deputies who had observed that "The BNP website is now one of the most zionist on the web - it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support for Israel".
Warning Jews and anyone else against falling for this, Dave Landau said the BNP "remains a fascist organisation and racist to the core", and antisemitism with its conspiracy theory remained at its heart, even if it was currently being hidden. He urged "Jews, Muslims,people of all faiths and none" to make common cause with the workers' movement to beat the fascists.
(How Islamophobia is masking the BNP anti-semitic heart, Morning Star, Thursday May 1).
Article also available online at:
You might think it unusual, or a good sign of unity, that Dave Landau's article on fascism has appeared in two quite different places.
But it was originally intended for neither.
It was Ken Olende, an editor of the weekly Socialist Worker, who approached Dave Landau to write on this subject. Dave, a longstanding and dedicated campaigner against racism and fascism, had been recommended to him by an SWP member from east London.
But having submitted his article, Dave received this strange apology from Olende:
Thanks for submitting the ‘Ham and High’ article as requested, and the work you have done. However, I’m afraid the editorial board has decided not to run it in Socialist Worker. It was felt that due to past and present disagreements you were not the appropriate person to write for the paper. I’m sorry to have inconvenienced you.
Now of course, an editor, or an editorial board, is entitled to edit. If the Socialist Worker editors felt that Dave Landau's article was incorrect, or not up to their standards, they could have told him what was wrong with it. Maybe they did not like a passage in the article which refers to the strange character Israel Shamir complaining that the BNP has succumbed to Jewish pressure by going soft on Israel? Dave Landau remarks that Shamir's work "is greatly admired by Gilad Atzmon". (Jazz saxophonist Atzmon has played at benfits for SWP-backed causes and appeared at their 'Marxism' fete, though he's certainly no Marxist, nor man of the Left).
The editors could have queried this, checked with Atzmon, or suggested to Dave Landau that he take it out as unnecessary to his article. But Ken Olende's communication gives no indication that there is anything they object to in Dave's article. Rather it says that due to "past and present disagreements" he is not an appropriate person to write in their paper. So Landau is banned, whatever he writes! This is not so much editing, as blacklisting.
In thereby ensuring the article about the BNP received a wider airing, and leading to it appearing in the daily Morning Star (which also gave it a prominent blurb on its front page), the bureaucratic hacks hiding behind poor Ken Olende have done Dave Landau, and the anti-fascist cause, an unintended favour.
With such heavy handed intolerance that they gave the formerly Stalinist Morning Star an opportunity to show itself more open and democratic-minded, they have done themselves no favours at all. For those of us who have been around for any time, and have a sense of history, this contrast has an amusing irony. But United Fronts? The SWP-led Unite Against Fascism urged people to vote "anything except BNP". So they might be prepared to support Tories, Liberals, and right-wing Labourites, and unite with businessmen and clerics, but they won't tolerate a socialist who has "past and present differences" with the SWP! And to think some of Dave's pals have been voting and even canvassing for their "Left List"! Thanks for warning us, comrades! A cross on a ballot paper is more writing than you deserve.