Laventia Beria
Laventia Beria

8:19 PM - Oct 07, 2005 #21

Perhaps one of his former gurus, or even you Levy, could tell us a bit more about Simon Evans' past? By his own account on the old "formers" site he was still in Straight Left when the CPGB reformed itself into the "Democratic Left" apparently attending the big SL meeting in London that followed. He now coyly admits when challenged on his appalling blog that he was "briefly" a member of the CPGB during his student days. Was he recruited at Newcastle university? Did a Straight Lefter initially ease him into the world of journalism? I think we should be told!

Guy Burgess
Eton & Cambridge
That's all rubbish. I know for a fact his real name is John something or other and he teaches economics at some FE college in Ireland. I'm going to be doing some sleuthing over the next few weeks and I'll keep you all posted.

Toodle Pip
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Zinoviev
Zinoviev

8:39 PM - Oct 07, 2005 #22

I know him! Chubby fella from Essex. All his "comrades" used to laugh at his bumbling efforts with women behind his back. Well, well. How interesting. Why do you say it's him? I'd love to know.
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Kim Philby
Kim Philby

10:13 PM - Oct 07, 2005 #23

No Zinoviev, the one certainty in life is that "Harry" is not John Blevin. Though Blevin was a former communist his journalistic experience was,as far as I recall, confined to the Morning Star and Tribune. Some indeed thought he was a Straight Left sympathiser as he was opposed to the Euros but that is also debatable given his pro-Common Market views. He did work for John Cryer, the Labour MP for Hornchurch in Essex. He may well have known Nick Cohen and Simon Evans. But the clincher is that John Blevin died in 1999.

pip,pip


H A R Philby
(Col.retd)
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Todor Zhivkov
Todor Zhivkov

9:55 PM - Oct 08, 2005 #24



Norman Johnson
Saturday October 8, 2005
The Guardian


Is it me, or is there something a tad fishy about the sudden disappearance from the web of Harry, creator of and lead contributor to the eponymous blog Harry's Place? You don't have to be a conspiracy-obsessed neocon to wonder about the timing of Harry's departure, at the very top of his blogging game - and believe me, Harry was good. How do you explain his exit, after a blog lasting three years, at exactly the time the government is being urged by its army (and yes, I use the term advisedly) of Islamist advisers, to do all it can to reassure the famously moderate British Muslims that a caliphate, if not exactly round the corner, is not an impossible dream?

Paranoid, moi? Last time I was accused of this (when the new dustbin went missing) my suspicions (the menopausal sadsack next door) proved to be not, as alleged, paranoid, but fully justified. And I think I'm dead right about Harry. Maybe if, like me, you'd spent night after night round at his place, chewing the cyberfat with a gang of unseen but like-minded anti-fascists, you might have registered how convenient it would be if the author of the most influential, most free-thinking forum for muscular liberals were, at a stroke, to cease all communication. Put it this way: Harry's departure will have made Ken Livingstone's day. For George Galloway, it came as close as anything ever could to snogging Saddam. The night I heard about Harry's unexpected valediction, I pictured Islamofascists from Tooting to Tikrit chilling the lemonade, laying in the Quality Street and dancing the night away to the happening beat of the SWP. They do dance, right? Or is that just dervishes? Whatever. Respect.
Me? I cried like a woman. Yes, I know we columnists are not as other men: we're strange, antsy, media obsessives who get off on intense intellectual activity. But if you trash our blogs, frankly, it hurts. Where are the anti-appeasers going to show up now? Sure, there's always Annabel's if you want to catch up with an international set that includes, among others, Paul Wolfowitz, Nicky Cohen, Dave Blunkett; but the beer's not cheap and last time I went some bastard conned Blunko into bouncing a young neo-Stalinist on his knee.

Who was Harry? Politically, I'd put the great blogmeister somewhere around the rightish end of a continuum that starts with dear old Rosa Luxembourg and ends with Charles Clarke. Like many of us, he'd made that arduous journey from the idealistic wing of the CPGB to the place now occupied by liberal humanitarian interventionists, thinking every step of the way. For those of you who'll never have the privilege of sparring with Harry, I'll quote the man himself. "Wake up you sad, naive cretin", he challenged one of the many fascistic stoppers (Harry's Place shorthand for surrender monkeys) who constantly challenged his dialectic. "Why don't you all just fuck off to your own websites", he told another loser, who subsequently had to be banned. "I'm sick of reading your crap on my site now." It was a working democracy.

For me and many fellow internationalists who've had to struggle to be heard, there was inspiration as well as consolation. At Harry's I first debated how many deaths would have to accumulate before it was legitimate to raise doubts about the liberation of the Iraqi people (the population of Iraq, plus one, we decided). But it wasn't all politics. It was there I heard that a biggish note in the church collection box got you into the local primary. At Harry's I found the support to keep on keeping going. Without it, I might not be here. Is it so strange now that Harry had to go?

norman.johnson@guardian.co.uk
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Guy Burgess
Guy Burgess

2:58 PM - Oct 11, 2005 #25

The "Norman Johnson" column in the Guardian is apparently a send-up of David Aaronovitch's drivel, though Slime thinks the target is himself. Some say it's penned by Catherine Bennett, another Guardian worthy.

"Harry" naturally likes to draw a veil on his career in Straight Left (which he calls "the Artists") so perhaps its useful to recall what he said not so long ago in a reply to me on the old "formers" site:



On the Artists (again)
by Harry Steele

A response to comrade Burgess' view on the Artist's:

Guy Burgess can be forgiven for his inability to truly understand the strategy and positions taken by the Artists – there was no written programme, no detailed policy statement (if we discount the CPGB congress documents and statements which were inevitably a reflection of a tactical battle for control of the Party) nor was there a policy making forum which would give us some clues.

However he is wrong that few outside the close Nicholson circle could have much idea of what SL was all about. I have tried to explain before that the Artists were an umbrella group, which united a surprisingly broad range of views and any attempt to understand them in the traditional manner – organisational structure, leadership, programme, policy etc is doomed. They were (are?) far more sophisticated than manner people give them credit for.

If for the sake of brevity I must find some neat expression to sum up the SL strategy it would be “political sleepers”. I presume that most comrades here are familiar with the use of the term “sleeper” in relation to intelligence work (I am sure Guy and Kim are!) and the Artists (a number of whom were not without some knowledge/experience of intelligence work –allegedly) applied the same strategy to politics.

It is, as Guy points out, superficially similar to the Trotskyist “entryist” strategy but there are crucial differences. For a start the project was carried out with subtlety. Did you ever see an Artist standing outside meetings with their paper? Did you ever see posters? There was a “fighting fund” of sorts but that too was discreet. The only time the group resembled an orthodox organised political unit was at the CPGB congress. Meetings were held prior to congress and efforts were made to gather the maximum number of votes for SL-backed candidates.

The sleeper strategy involved select individuals gaining key positions within certain bodies. But, and this another difference with classic entryism, the aim was not necessarily to take over but to take up a “holding position” and slowly build influence until the time came to activate those key people and those selected organisations. The activation might be done in a period of social unrest, a rise in militancy in the working class, or a threat to the peace during the cold war. In the meantime the short-term aim was to develop progressive policies and outlooks, that would assist the struggle for peace, oppose destructive forces and strengthen the broad left, while attempting some raising of consciousness.

This strategy necessitated a different approach to recruitment. If people were to be trusted with holding a sleeper position for a lengthy period of time, building relationships, both personal and political, then they must be reliable, intelligent and effective individuals. The Artists did not recruit openly, nor did they accept all those who wished to become part of their circle. They took the concept of a revolutionary vanguard seriously and were building an elite group of cadres. The Artists were rarely among the rank and file in any organisation they were involved in – they were invariably holding top positions, although not in the CPGB.

Guy is of course right when he says the “secret society” approach ruled out the opportunity to “win over the masses to their cause”. But perhaps, they were unique among the left in realising that in late 20th century Britain, the masses were not about to be roused and rush behind the banner of Marxism-Leninism. The 57 varieties of the ultra left have been trying to “win over the masses” since World War Two and utterly failing. The NCP and CPB were attempting to rouse the British proletariat without much joy. We were not, and probably have never been, in a revolutionary situation in Britain.

In a hostile cold war environment, given a truly internationalist perspective, and having Marxist understanding of the development of global capitalism was it really such a strange approach to concentrate resources and energy on developing a small, disciplined revolutionary core which could obtain influence over the labour movement and communities in general by winning confidence on a personal basis? Flag waving does not appear to have had a great track record in Great Britain.

My involvement with communist politics in Britain ended in 1991, I would be grateful for any comrades who could enlighten me and others on how and why the Artists took up camp in the CPB. We have still yet to have any real explanation of those more recent events on this forum.

Posted on Sep 14, 2000, 11:16 PM
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CoppiceCamp
CoppiceCamp

8:05 AM - Oct 12, 2005 #26

And I remember all those earnest lectures about the inadmissability of factionalism that Fergus Nicholson gave student comrades in the 1960s (including one at Coppice Camp, actually).
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Donald Duart Maclean
Donald Duart Maclean

8:56 PM - Oct 24, 2005 #27


Norman Johnson
Saturday October 8, 2005
The Guardian


Is it me, or is there something a tad fishy about the sudden disappearance from the web of Harry, creator of and lead contributor to the eponymous blog Harry's Place? You don't have to be a conspiracy-obsessed neocon to wonder about the timing of Harry's departure, at the very top of his blogging game - and believe me, Harry was good. How do you explain his exit, after a blog lasting three years, at exactly the time the government is being urged by its army (and yes, I use the term advisedly) of Islamist advisers, to do all it can to reassure the famously moderate British Muslims that a caliphate, if not exactly round the corner, is not an impossible dream?

Paranoid, moi? Last time I was accused of this (when the new dustbin went missing) my suspicions (the menopausal sadsack next door) proved to be not, as alleged, paranoid, but fully justified. And I think I'm dead right about Harry. Maybe if, like me, you'd spent night after night round at his place, chewing the cyberfat with a gang of unseen but like-minded anti-fascists, you might have registered how convenient it would be if the author of the most influential, most free-thinking forum for muscular liberals were, at a stroke, to cease all communication. Put it this way: Harry's departure will have made Ken Livingstone's day. For George Galloway, it came as close as anything ever could to snogging Saddam. The night I heard about Harry's unexpected valediction, I pictured Islamofascists from Tooting to Tikrit chilling the lemonade, laying in the Quality Street and dancing the night away to the happening beat of the SWP. They do dance, right? Or is that just dervishes? Whatever. Respect.
Me? I cried like a woman. Yes, I know we columnists are not as other men: we're strange, antsy, media obsessives who get off on intense intellectual activity. But if you trash our blogs, frankly, it hurts. Where are the anti-appeasers going to show up now? Sure, there's always Annabel's if you want to catch up with an international set that includes, among others, Paul Wolfowitz, Nicky Cohen, Dave Blunkett; but the beer's not cheap and last time I went some bastard conned Blunko into bouncing a young neo-Stalinist on his knee.

Who was Harry? Politically, I'd put the great blogmeister somewhere around the rightish end of a continuum that starts with dear old Rosa Luxembourg and ends with Charles Clarke. Like many of us, he'd made that arduous journey from the idealistic wing of the CPGB to the place now occupied by liberal humanitarian interventionists, thinking every step of the way. For those of you who'll never have the privilege of sparring with Harry, I'll quote the man himself. "Wake up you sad, naive cretin", he challenged one of the many fascistic stoppers (Harry's Place shorthand for surrender monkeys) who constantly challenged his dialectic. "Why don't you all just fuck off to your own websites", he told another loser, who subsequently had to be banned. "I'm sick of reading your crap on my site now." It was a working democracy.

For me and many fellow internationalists who've had to struggle to be heard, there was inspiration as well as consolation. At Harry's I first debated how many deaths would have to accumulate before it was legitimate to raise doubts about the liberation of the Iraqi people (the population of Iraq, plus one, we decided). But it wasn't all politics. It was there I heard that a biggish note in the church collection box got you into the local primary. At Harry's I found the support to keep on keeping going. Without it, I might not be here. Is it so strange now that Harry had to go?

norman.johnson@guardian.co.uk
It was altogether too good to be true -- Slime returned to his own blog last week for what threatens to be a regular occassion commentary a la Aaronovitch, Cohen & Hitchens.


Donald Maclean
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Kim Philby
Kim Philby

2:24 PM - Oct 25, 2005 #28

Indeed and he's having a field day with the new US allegation that Galloway was getting dropsy from Iraq's oil-for-food programme. Strangely enough he doesn't appear to have commented on the report in the Independent last week about Oona King's "second thoughts" about the war now that she's scouting around for a new seat curtesy of Gordon Brown.


pip,pip


H A R Philby
(Col.retd)
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Guy Burgess
Guy Burgess

4:23 PM - Dec 30, 2005 #29

Or at least one of them. His three-part series answering "the 'left-wing' case for a pro-war stance in this week's Star names Hitchens, Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen and John Lloyd but it's simply a critique of a book by Oliver Kamm, who as Murray states, has not been a member of the Labour Party or any other for more than 15 years.

I'm surprised Murray considered Kamm's rubbish worth so much ink. Kamm writes for the Times and I doubt whether many Star readers are even aware of his existence. During the Cold War some communists took the Times on the debatable grounds that it had the best Moscow correspondents but those that I knew cancelled their orders during the Sun dispute in the 1980s and I doubt whether any of the Murdoch press has much a readership amongst communists in Britain these days.

While the others are hardly household names to working people I would have thought Aaronovitch, Hitchens and Nick Cohen would have made a better focus for Murray as they did once claim to be "left" and Aaronovitch, of course, was one of the leading Euros in the old CPGB.

Guy Burgess
Eton & Cambridge
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Mediaman
Mediaman

4:07 PM - Mar 07, 2006 #30

Been running for a couple of weeks now but it's rarely updated:

http://harrysplacewatch.blogspot.com/
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