Tag Archives: infiltrate

Que sera, SERA? Is this the Labour right’s latest bid to stifle Jeremy Corbyn?

[Image: Skwawkbox blog.]

[Image: Skwawkbox blog.]

The enemy within Labour is still very much alive, it seems, despite all the false pledges for unity we’ve heard since the end of September.

The latest scheme, if you can believe it, involves infiltration of Constituency Labour Parties via third-party organisations such as – in the example suggested by the Skwawkbox blog, SERA (Socialist Environment and Resources Association, now styling itself SERA Labour Environment Campaign).

The idea, it seems, is to pack this organisation, which is affiliated to Labour, with people who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, policies and followers – and then embed representatives of it into each CLP in order to obtain an automatic seat on the CLP executive.

This would give them influence over, for example, the selection of council and Parliamentary candidates.

Labour is an umbrella organisation with many different unions and socialist societies (like SERA) affiliated to it. It is possible to be delegated to a CLP from local branches of these affiliated organisations.

SERA is already packed with members of Progress, the representative organisation for Labour’s hard right-wingers.

So instead of harmless, uncontentious environmentalist members, it seems SERA may be a front for the right-wing, pro-austerity, anti-Socialist Progress party-within-a-party.

Skwawkbox has this to say:

‘Forewarned is fore-armed’, as the saying goes. With a huge majority among Labour’s grassroots membership supporting Jeremy Corbyn, Progress’ successful use of SERA as a ‘trojan horse’ to access the levers of local power and selection depends on those members remaining ignorant of the plan. If they can pose as harmless, uncontentious environmentalist members looking for influence for wholly benign purposes, there is little to prevent SERA CLP affiliates from winning approval for attempts to gain permanent places on CLP executives.

But if those same members are aware that SERA is becoming/has become a front for the right-wing, pro-austerity Progress ‘party within a party’, those attempts can be fought and defeated.

So two things are key: inform and combat. Share this information so that people are ‘forewarned and fore-armed’; and if/when SERA initiates moves to gain influence over local Labour groups and committees, prevent them.

[Source: Next big threat from #Labour right – the Trojan Horse you’ve never heard of | The SKWAWKBOX Blog]

An additional article adds:

To counter this, it is important that Corbyn supporters in the party also do this. Go along to your local union branch and get yourself delegated to your constituency party. Some CLPs have regular delegate-based General Committees that run the CLP and select the MP. Others have ‘all member meetings’ that are open to any member, with just one delegate-based AGM per year. But that AGM is vital to electing the CLP officers and ONLY DELEGATES from Branch (ward) Labour Parties and affiliated unions and Socialist Societies can vote or select the MP.

If your union is NOT affiliated to Labour (mainly white collar unions like NUT), the traditional route for getting delegated to your CLP is via one of the Labour-affiliated Socialist Societies such as SERA. Join one of them and get delegated to your CLP from the local branch. For example, members of the NUT cannot get delegated to their CLP because this union is not affiliated to Labour. NUT members traditionally get around this problem by getting delegated to their CLP via the Labour affiliated society the Socialist Education Association which IS affiliated to Labour.

To find out if your union is affiliated to Labour see here:

A full list of Labour-affiliated Socialist Societies is here:

Practical steps that supporters of Labour as a genuine alternative to the toxic right-wing consensus can take to neutralise yet another Progress attempt to commandeer the party away from the burgeoning democratic movement.

[Source: Important: more info on Labour right SERA threat and what to do about it | The SKWAWKBOX Blog]

This may be a false alarm.

But if you are a left-leaning member of Labour, can you afford to ignore it?

As the Skwawkbox says, forewarned is fore-armed.

If you are a Labour member, please share this with your colleagues.

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Are we really stupid enough to believe Israel is spending £7.8bn on CRYPTOGRAPHY?

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

After yesterday’s article on Gaza was written, Yr Obdt Srvt opened the new edition of Private Eye and read the following on page 29:

“Downing Street’s promise on Monday to review all the UK’s arms export licences to Israel will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused a recent report from MPs… The report revealed the continuing mystery of licences for £7.8bn worth of equipment, mainly ‘cryptographic equipment, software and technology’.”


But page 5 of the same magazine states: “Many of the countries the UK supplies are flagged up by the Foreign Office as being ‘countries of human rights concern’. They account for £11.9bn of UK arms sales and include China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who have been sold ‘cryptography’ equipment – essentially kit to disguise communications, infiltrate external websites and protect their own from surveillance.”


That costs £7.8 billion in Israel but only £3.1 billion to all these other countries, does it? And it’s before taking out sales of any shoot-bang-kill weapons, too.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia total more than £1.5 billion, and to China another £600 million or so. That leaves £1 billion between Yemen, Iran (!) and anyone else not mentioned in the article.

It’s not believable. Even if the software licence was the most expensive ever, it beggars belief that Israel would be willing to pay 16 times as much as – for example – Iran, for the same equipment.

Meanwhile, an article in today’s Guardian clarifies how this kit will be used. The country’s right-wing government is intent on suppressing dissent against its military operations in Palestinian areas and has worked hard to ensure that around 95 per cent of the public support it.

This leaves five per cent of the population, who are afraid to voice their opinion openly for fear of being attacked in the street. Left-wing commentator Gideon Levy, who has written in opposition to the assaults, has suffered epistolary attacks from (among others) Eldad Yaniv, former political adviser to ex-prime minister Ehud Barack. Yaniv wrote on his Facebook page: “The late Gideon Levy. Get used to it.”

It does not seem far from the realms of possibility that a government that has generated this kind of support would buy surveillance equipment to snoop on its detractors in search of any evidence that could bring them down.

“What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit,” Levy states in the Guardian article. “Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians,” says Levy. “You shouldn’t be surprised that the 95 per cent [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5 per cent. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don’t be surprised the Israeli people are where they are.”

Is this not exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, back in the 1930s? Isn’t it exactly what Roger Waters was protesting against, as mentioned in yesterday’s VP article? And did the Nazis not use surveillance techniques via their secret police, the Gestapo, to ensure dissent was suppressed and propaganda in support of their policies held sway over public opinion?

(It should be noted that none of this should be used to suggest that the Palestinian organisation Hamas was right to launch attacks on Israel. The plight of the people of Gaza is real but must be settled by peaceful means; violence can only ever make matters worse in the long run.)

Now come back to the UK, where we have a right-wing government that has worked extremely hard to ensure that the mass media put forward only stories supporting its policies and point of view. Is it not possible that a government in possession of the kind of surveillance equipment it is exporting to ‘countries of human rights concern’ – a government that is known to have extremely unsound beliefs about human rights – might turn that equipment on its own people?

These are dangerous times for all of us.

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No lawbreaking required: Secret police are spying on students to repress political dissent

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from 'Allo Allo' - possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

Caught with his trousers down: Herr Flick from ‘Allo Allo’ – possibly the last secret policeman to be revealed in quite such an embarrassing way.

So now not only are our students facing the prospect of a life in debt, paying off the cost of their education (thanks, Liberal Democrats!) but they know they can expect the police to be spying on them in case they do anything radical, student-ish and treasonous like joining UK Uncut and occupying a shop to publicise the corporate tax avoidance our Tory-led government encourages.

Rather than investigate and solve crimes, it seems the police are embracing their traditional role (under Conservative governments) as political weapons – targeting suspected dissenters against their right-wing government’s policies, trying to undermine their efforts and aiming to apprehend key figures.

They are behaving like secret police, in fact. Allow this to go much further and we will have our own Gestapo, here in Britain. Before anyone starts invoking Godwin’s Law, just take a look at the evidence; it is a justifiable comparison.

According to The Guardian, police have been caught trying to spy on the political activities of students at Cambridge University. It had to be Cambridge; Oxford is traditionally the ‘Tory’ University.

The officer concerned tried to get an activist to rat on other students in protest groups in return for money, but the student turned the tables on him by wearing a hidden camera to record a meeting and expose the facts.

The policeman, identified by the false name ‘Peter Smith’, “wanted the activist to name students who were going on protests, list the vehicles they travelled in to demonstrations, and identify leaders of protests. He also asked the activist to search Facebook for the latest information about protests that were being planned.

“The other proposed targets of the surveillance include UK Uncut, the campaign against tax avoidance and government cuts, Unite Against Fascism and environmentalists” – because we all know how dangerous environmentalists are!

Here at Vox Political, it feels as though we have come full circle. One of the events that sparked the creation of this blog was the police ‘kettling’ of students demonstrating against the rise in tuition fees, back in 2010. It was a sign that the UK had regressed to the bad old days of the Thatcher government, when police were used (famously) to intimidate, annihilate and subjugate picketing miners.

Back then, BBC news footage was doctored to make it seem the miners had been the aggressors; fortunately times have changed and now, with everyone capable of filming evidence with their mobile phones, it is much harder for such open demonstrations of political repression to go unremarked.

In response, we see the police being granted expanded powers of arrest against anyone deemed to be causing a “nuisance” or “annoyance”, and now the infiltration of groups deemed likely to be acting against the government, even though they may not have broken any laws at all.

This would be bad enough if it was a single incident, taken in isolation – but it isn’t. It is part of a much wider attack on the citizens of this country by institutions whose leaders should know better.

The UK is now in the process of removing the rights it has taken nearly a thousand years for its citizens to win.

It is a country that abuses the sick and disabled.

And it is a country where free speech will soon be unheard-of; where the police – rather than investigate crimes – proactively target political dissenters, spying on anyone they suspect of disagreeing with the government and looking for ways to silence them.

Who voted for that?