Left Wing Hate Watch, RMT Edition

In Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley, the RMT union have found a worthy successor to Bob Crow

With the entire country focus transfixed on Europe and David Cameron’s spectacularly poor negotiating skills, there has not been much emphasis on the Evil Tories in the media of late. Some nervous Tories, coming out of hiding for the first time since the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, may have even considered themselves safe.

They were wrong. Steve Hedley of the RMT union is actively gunning for them using the most violent rhetoric imaginable, as he demonstrated in an interview on LBC today.

LBC reports:

RMT leader Steve Hedley has claimed the Tory government are “murdering” people, then called for them to be “taken out and shot” in an extraordinary LBC interview.

[..] “I think all the Tories are an absolute disgrace, they should be taken out and shot to be quite frank with you,” said Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT union.

“Oh Steve!” responded [presenter] Shelagh. “I’m not going to let you say that, so don’t repeat it…if your job is to represent your workers, and I was one of your workers, I would want you to represent me without resorting to things like that.”

Hedley then claimed that the government was “killing three disabled people a week by their cuts.”

Everything changes, and everything stays the same. The Labour Party have a new leader, and Jeremy Corbyn’s admittedly haphazard opposition has thus far been mostly principled and courteous. Politically, Corbyn may be quite far from David Cameron (though not as far as he would be from a real conservative), but in his speeches he is more likely to forget that the Tories exist than indulge in an angry tirade against them. But same cannot be said for the people under him in the Labour Party and in the wider left-wing movement.

As we have repeatedly seen, many of these people are ready and willing to engage in the most overheated, provocative rhetoric against their political opponents on the right, continually implying that those who disagree with them are not just intellectually wrong but morally evil. And it is no longer just grassroots activists at fault – MPs and union leaders are increasingly getting involved too.

Whenever I write about the latest high-profile instance of left-wing anti-Tory bigotry and intolerance, I usually receive a number of comments chiding me for taking the intemperate war memorial-defacing actions of a few angry lunatics and claiming that they represent the Left as a whole.

That’s not what I am trying to do, though the way that some on the Left are so quick to take such criticisms personally suggests that in some cases, I may be striking a little too close to home. After all, since nobody suggested that all left-wingers are angry, screaming, spitting hate mobs, the fact that the likes of Owen Jones take the time to pen articles refuting this non-accusation can be taken as a sign that the criticism is hitting uncomfortably close to home, and that there may be a deep-seated, half-subconscious approval for these distasteful acts of protest.

But the purpose is not to hold up instances where left-wing activists go too far just to act outraged. It is to point out (rather wearily at this point) that there is a poison within the Left which encourages adherents to believe themselves to be the sole possessors of compassion and virtue in a world where anybody different is immediately labelled “Tory Scum”. And until this poison can be sucked out of the Labour Party – or an adequate antidote found – the Left will continue losing elections by spending more time shouting angrily at the country for our supposed moral shortcomings than they spend presenting an attractive, cohesive alternate vision for government.

Steve Hedley is not your average left-wing grassroots activist, sharing Corbyn memes on Twitter and raging against the Tories on Facebook. He is the assistant General Secretary of the RMT, one of the most powerful (and high profile) trade unions in the country. He is the voice of organised Labour, which in turn increasingly claims to be the voice of the Labour Party. And when he angrily parrots the same drivel about the Evil Tories wanting to kill disabled people as the most zealous online activist, then it is no longer possible to say that this is an isolated problem of passionate ordinary folk getting a bit too carried away.

If the political Right has a problem in Britain (and it does; small-c conservatives are utterly underwhelmed and uninspired by the rootless premiership of David Cameron, no major conservative legislation has been enacted in the precious months following the 2015 general election victory, and the only motivated people online seem to be the ones churning out bigoted memes about migrants) then the Left should realise that they have a problem, too.

It may have started innocently enough, with Ed Miliband and his MPs turning a blind eye toward (and thus tacitly encouraging) overheated anti-Tory rhetoric as the coalition government found its feet back in 2010. And there may have been every good reason in the world to let demoralised Labour activists blow off steam by promoting the notion that this utterly unremarkable, centrist government is actually on an ideologically charged “more Thatcher than Thatcher” mission to roll back the state (if only it were true).

But the time has come to admit that the experiment has gotten out of control, and that the swivel-eyed anti-Tory hysteria has metastasised and started to re-infect the very left-wing political elites who first let it loose back in 2010. We see it in the ferocity with which some Jeremy Corbyn supporters attack their (far from blameless) centrist colleagues, calling them Red Tories. And now we see it in the shape and form of a senior trade union leader calling for Conservative supporters to be rounded up and shot.

I don’t spend much of my time worrying about what is best for the Labour Party or the British left-wing movement in general, but in this case I am writing out of genuine concern over what is happening to one side of the political debate in this country – the side which now finds itself represented by spokespeople like the RMT’s Steve Hedley.

Calling for all Tories to be “taken out and shot” is a juvenile piece of rhetoric from a half-baked political mind. It’s not a serious threat – let’s not go down the censorious road of calling the police on anybody who ever utters a mean word about us – but neither is it evidence of a person or political philosophy capable of showing respect, understanding nuance and thinking in colour, the kind of behaviour required of a movement which aspires to lead.

The closer Steve Hedley is to mainstream left-wing thought, the further the Left will be from tasting power again. Which is why any Labour politician with an ounce of sense must now furiously disassociate themselves from Hedley’s inflammatory remarks.


Tory Protests

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The Daily Smackdown: Sore Loser John McTernan Doesn’t Understand Bullying

John McTernan - Labour Party - Jeremy Corbyn - Bullying

Everyone in the Parliamentary Labour Party is a grown adult. Accusations of “bullying” by Jeremy Corbyn are nothing short of pathetic

John McTernan dials up the centrist Labour victim complex yet further, with a whiny piece in the Telegraph moaning about the supposed “bullying” of Labour MPs by Jeremy Corbyn:

It has long been a watchword of the labour movement that “an injury to one is an injury to all”. The PLP have to put that into action – starting with the Shadow Cabinet. If any frontbencher is moved, let alone sacked, because of how they voted over air strikes on Isil then the entire Shadow Cabinet should resign in solidarity. Immediately. Without hesitation. And the rest of the PLP should refuse to fill the vacancies. Well, at least the nine out of ten who didn’t vote for Corbyn.

[..] To work this action has to be like a successful strike – well-organised, widely supported and ruthlessly executed.

Yes. John McTernan, in his latest foot-stomping tantrum, is seriously invoking the language of industrial action and trade unionism to argue for the continued privilege of Labour’s centrist political-bots to set the tone and direction of the Labour Party, even though their faction overwhelmingly lost the recent leadership election.

Don’t be deceived by McTernan’s claim that this is all about the Syria vote. If a reshuffle does indeed occur – and it should – it will be just as much a response to the two-facedness of those shadow cabinet members who willingly chose to serve under Corbyn and profess loyalty to his face, while briefing against him anonymously to the media.

And take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of Labour’s centrists – generally those people furthest removed from the party’s roots in the trade union movement, fully paid-up members of the political class – now invoking the language of collective struggle in an attempt to preserve their loosening grip on power and influence within the party.

Having forged careers based on centrist triangulation and studiously ignoring the trades union or anyone with old-fashioned socialist views, these pampered princelings now have the nerve to elicit sympathy by painting themselves as victimised underdogs, humble workers being oppressed by the tyrannical Corbynite managerial class.

This is yet further proof that centrist Labour is still nowhere close to understanding the reasons for their defeat and rejection by the wider leftist movement.

The John McTernans of this world would still seek to make a virtue out of the fact that they stand for nothing save the acquisition of power, and that to them, even the most fundamental political or ideological belief is ultimately negotiable in the quest for votes. And they are terrified that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party will usher in a new era, whereby politicians are actually expected to believe in something and seek to persuade and convince the electorate, rather than slavishly flattering voters and tilting with every passing opinion poll.

That’s why we are now seeing this hysteria about supposed “bullying” by Jeremy Corbyn. Never mind that it is the ranks of unhinged activists online who are doing the “bullying”, and not the mild-mannered Corbyn. It serves the interests of John McTernan & co. to conflate the two – to make Jeremy Corbyn personally responsible for the behaviour of every single online troll, and claim that the unpleasant abuse on social media is somehow being coordinated from the Leader’s office.

This blog disagrees with nearly everything that Jeremy Corbyn stand for. But the only thing worse than Corbyn’s socialist policies is the attitude of the self-entitled Labour centrists, who – despite comprehensively failing to articulate a political vision of their own – still arrogantly expect to get their own way.

Only the warped and self-important mind of John McTernan could cast Labour’s centrists-in-exile as the plucky underdogs, and Corbyn’s small band of loyalists as the cruel capitalist oppressors. The rest of us will see this hyperbolic nonsense for what it is.

Jeremy Corbyn bullying

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Jubilant Trade Unions Are Wildly Misreading Jeremy Corbyn’s Mandate

TUC Conference - Young Socialists - General Strike

Trade union activists may be delighted by Jeremy Corbyn’s triumph in the Labour leadership contest, but they should not mistake the scale of his victory for widespread demand for socialist and pro-union policies among the wider British public

Can you imagine a British general strike taking place in the year 2016, ninety years since the last, with workers from every industry downing tools (or leaving their public sector office desks, as it would be today) to bring the entire country grinding to a halt?

No, of course you can’t – no person with a single foothold in reality can take the prospect seriously, let alone countenance the circumstances whereby a general strike might now be justified. But Britain’s trade union leaders can – and now that Jeremy Corbyn has been installed as Labour leader, they fully intend to make it a reality.

The Daily Mail strikes a suitably alarmist tone:

It would be the first time that there had been a General Strike since 1926, when work was halted for nine days.

Unite, led by ‘Red Len’ McCluskey and one of Mr Corbyn’s biggest supporters, is calling for ‘a broad, militant and imaginative campaign’ against the Trade Union Reform Bill.

It even proposes breaking the law, saying the TUC should be open ‘to giving maximum possible political, financial and industrial support to those unions that find themselves outside the law’.

But on this occasion they are right to be alarmed. The Telegraph reports that Britain’s favourite union leader, Mark Serwotka, sees Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory as only the start:

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90,000 Followers, In Search Of A Leader

TUC Britain Needs A Pay Rise demonstration Anti Capitalist Protester SPS


Bring back Russell Brand, all is forgiven.

The comedian turned author was actually present at Saturday’s “Britain Needs A Pay Rise” demonstration in central London, showing his solidarity by marching with a contingent from the Royal College of Nursing and posing for pictures with the crowd at the rally in Hyde Park.

But good old RustyRockets appeared in a strictly unofficial capacity – in sharp contrast to his star billing at the People’s Assembly “March For The Alternative” anti-austerity protest in June, where he was rashly installed as the ceremonial figurehead of the socialist movement. And by the end of the day’s proceedings it was clear that the ideal quantity of Russell Brand to spice up your mass demonstration lies somewhere between these two extremes.

The TUC march drew up to 90,000 people onto the streets of London in support of their calls for a higher and more rigorously enforced minimum wage, and in opposition to various coalition government policies. This was almost twice as many as the People’s Assembly march back in June. And yet somehow it felt rather flat and underwhelming by comparison.

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Britain Needs A Pay Rise – If At First You Don’t Succeed…

TUC Britain Needs A Pay Rise Demonstration SPS


Back in June of this year 50,000 angry people stomped through central London and held a rally in Parliament Square, while nobody else paid them the slightest bit of attention.

When the People’s Assembly “Demand The Alternative” march against austerity failed to achieve top billing on the BBC and Sky evening news bulletins (or to make the cut at all), aggrieved protesters took to the internet with wild claims of an establishment conspiracy and sinister media cover-up.

This blog responded by observing that protest movements that deny basic economic realities, sulkily view their opponents as two-dimensional cartoon characters and choose Russell Brand as their figurehead don’t really deserve the attention or respect of the wider public, let alone hold a legitimate claim to speak for the rest of us.

Defeated, the activists retreated to plan their next move. And now they’re back for Round 2.

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