This July, a group of 40 fascist thugs attacked a handful of RMT activists – including Steve Hedley, the union’s senior assistant general secretary – outside a pub in central London. The attack followed a demonstration of 6,000 Tommy Robinson supporters, who had gathered to call for Robinson’s release from prison.
Hedley and the RMT were clearly targeted by these hooligans for their trade unionism and their longstanding work in countering the far right. In fact, earlier that day, Hedley made a militant speech to the sizeable left-wing counter-demonstration, correctly saying that “wherever they [the fascists] come up, the organised working class will be here to batter them back down again”.
This attack must serve as a wake-up call to the leadership of the rest of the labour movement. This principle must be put into practice, in order to stop the far right in their tracks.
Hedley and his comrades were relaxing outside the Westminster Arms pub, having been told by police that the fascists had been “contained” in Trafalgar Square. Despite a heavy police presence in the area, a group of around 40 hooligans were allowed to descend on the pub, armed with bottles and road cones.
As Hedley recalled:
“I was hit in the face by a pint glass, and a few seconds after a metal chair came over and hit my partner right in the ribs. They then proceeded to attack the pub and us, and we defended ourselves. Lucky enough there were four or five RMT people there who could defend themselves properly, and the fascists took a number of injuries.”
Steve Hedley describes the attack, 40 thugs targeted them outside the Westminster Arms pub. They knew who they were attacking. They attacked them because they are trade union activists, anti-fascists and left wingers. An Injury to One is an Injury to allpic.twitter.com/HWVNKtUn1d— Jorge Martin (@marxistJorge) July 14, 2018
A young woman was knocked out by a glass to the head. Her friend banged on the door of a nearby police van for help, which was parked at the corner of the street. Despite this, the police didn’t come out until it was all over.
Earlier that day, thugs from the same demonstration blockaded and attacked a bus driven by a woman with a headscarf, in what was clearly a racially motivated attack. Again, this was in an area with a heavy police presence.
More recently, a group of 12 masked-up hooligans descended on Bookmarks in central London, the bookshop of the Socialist Workers' Party. They attempted to intimidate the staff, tore up books and wrecked a number of displays, singing fascist songs and making threats to return.
These attacks clearly serve as a warning to the labour movement. Although fascism is nowhere near becoming a mass force in Britain, these thugs do present a real threat to the organised working class, and are growing in confidence. The police have shown they cannot be relied upon.
The trade union and labour leadership must organise proper stewarding for all left-wing demonstrations and set up networks of activists in every working class neighbourhood to counter any attempt of the far right to mobilise. With proper organisation, they will be smashed.
Solidarity to Steve Hedley and the RMT. Solidarity to Bookmarks. An injury to one is an injury to all.
The real anti-Semitism that must be fought
By Steve Jones
All the recent organised hysteria about so-called anti-Semitism within Labour has diverted attention from the actual rise in anti-Semitism both in Britain and elsewhere. Unlike the constant attacks on Corbyn and the left, this has largely gone unreported.
In Britain, we have seen the various activities of the far right, in particular their pro-Trump protests and support for Tommy Robinson. These groups have tended to concentrate their racist bile on Muslims, but they are all too happy to also target Jews.
Anti-Semitic attacks and the desecration of Jewish graves have been on the rise for some time now. Old habits die hard it seems for these elements.
In Europe, we also see some even more worrying trends developing. Again, far-right groups have aimed most of their hatred at Muslims and refugees. But anti-Semitism has also been on the rise, in some cases quite openly.
In Hungary, the ultra-right-wing Fidesz party won the last election on the back of a blatantly anti-Semitic campaign. This included the crude targeting of George Soros in terms that even the Israeli ambassador felt merited a formal complaint. This was pretty daring of the ambassador given the close links between the Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and the Israeli PM.
Indeed, Orban has just been on an official trip to Israel where he was warmly welcomed by Netanyahu, despite sizeable protests by Israelis, many waving signs saying “never again”. These protests were reported in Israeli papers, such as Haaretz, but not in Britain to any great degree.
It has also been noted that Orban has praised Hungary’s wartime leader Miklós Horthy, who ran the country as a client state of Nazi Germany, and who wrote in 1940, “As regards the Jewish problem, I have been an anti-Semite throughout my life”.
In Poland, the Law and Justice party has promoted a law that makes it illegal to speak about Polish complicity in the Holocaust. The Polish PM recently let slip that he believed that the Jews were partially to blame for the Holocaust! Such actions have, as in Hungary, led to protests by local Jewish organisations concerned at the direction all this is taking.
So why have there not been protests outside parliament about this? After all, the British Conservative Party in Europe has allied itself with both Fidesz and Law and Justice. Double standards indeed.