Sharing platforms with social-conservatives, reactionaries and nationalists: Open Letter to comrades Lapavitsas and Blakeley

Background: Eddie Dempsey (above, left) of the RMT has been caught on film proclaiming to a Lexit rally that “The one thing that unites [the people who turn out for Tommy Robinson demos] beyond whatever other bigotry that’s going on… is their hatred of the liberal left. And they are right to hate them.” See: https://twitter.com/michael_chessum/status/1110603490055897090

Comrades Lapavitsas and Blakeley,

Political movements define themselves by the stories they tell about the world. The story that is presently being told by the global white supremacist far right is one of a conspiracy between global elites and non-white ethnic minorities to undermine white, Christian, family values. Using “political correctness” to silence and intimidate hard-working, salt-of-the-earth white Christian families, sinister elites set about swamping them with immigrants. Generally, the culprits are liberal elites, which in their world means Jewish; and the far right’s imagination is fired by the figure of one Jew in particular: George Soros.

Stories have a life of their own. Merriam-Webster describes a meme as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture”. It doesn’t matter who the carrier of the meme is or the way that they pass it on: all that matters is that the story is reproduced and given new life with each telling.

So, comrades, you should be alarmed – indeed the whole labour movement should be alarmed – to see these far-right stories being retold by the speakers at a left-wing rally which you also addressed.

At the “Full Brexit” rally held in London on 26 March, RMT activist Eddie Dempsey spoke from the platform to denounce the betrayal of Leave voters by a left-liberal elite. He said that the key issue was the abandonment of the working class. He said: “too many in the Labour Party have made a calculation that there’s a certain section at the top end of the working class, in alliance with people, they calculate, from ethnic minorities and liberals, that’s enough to get them into power.”

An alliance of the comfortably-off, liberals and ethnic minorities, to deliver power to those “calculating” people who wish to betray the honest working class.

Speaking at your event, standing at your top table, Dempsey said that “whatever you think of people that turn up for those Tommy Robinson demos or any other march like that – the one thing that unites those people, whatever other bigotry is going on, is their hatred of the liberal left and they are right to hate them”.

Comrades, isn’t this scandalous? A speech that sees the working class not as international and multi-ethnic but being pitted against “people from ethnic minorities”, led by liberals. Sympathy for the far right’s hatred of “the liberal left” – a hatred that stems from the liberal left’s role in ‘the great replacement’, the charge that they have chosen foreigners over whites and Britons – and a hatred shared by Thomas Mair, who murdered Labour MP Jo Cox with the cry of “death to traitors”.

Challenged about this online after the meeting by Another Europe is Possible campaigner Michael Chessum, Dempsey responded by throwing in the last piece of the alt-right narrative. He shot back at Chessum that he was a “posh student with pockets full of Soros money”.

It is public knowledge that AEIP has received some funding from Best for Britain, and other sources which get money directly or indirectly from George Soros. But in the context of a worldwide antisemitic campaign by the far right from Hungary to the US that sees Soros as the paymaster of “the great replacement”, ranting about political opponents taking “Soros money” is irresponsible at best.

It is possible but unlikely that Dempsey is unaware of the antisemitic agitation around Soros. He has apologised for “causing offence” with the Soros line, but he has offered no further explanation for the comment. But regardless of Dempsey’s private motivations, we think that you should act.

You are prominent voices of the left. We think that on the question of Brexit you are profoundly mistaken. But the issue of Brexit is a legitimate and necessary debate for the left. We are writing to you because we think that through tolerating speeches like Dempsey’s, you run the risk of making your “Full Brexit” tour a Trojan horse for far-right influence to seep into the labour movement and gain respectability. We know you to be better than that.

Dempsey is not the only associate of yours smuggling right-wing ideas into the labour movement and the socialist left. Signatories to the “Full Brexit” campaign group include Maurice Glasman, the founder of Blue Labour project. Blue Labour’s slogan is “Family, faith and flag” and he has written against “uncontrolled und uninvited demographic change”.

He is joined by Paul Embery, an advocate for state discrimination against LGBT people, who accuses the modern left of conspiring to “undermine the family” and that “children are generally better-served by being brought up by both biological parents, and that it should be the job of government to use every available lever available to encourage this outcome”.

The coming century will see tremendous upheavals. The horrors of climate change will generate mass migration on an unprecedented scale and social emergencies that will shake our society. In the decades to come, we need a labour movement that responds to crises with the politics of solidarity, compassion, and rationality. We have to fight the far right’s siren call of nativism, denial and retreat into traditionalist fantasies, and that means keeping the left clean of far-right narratives.

The far right and its ideas rely on ambiguity, dog-whistles, and innuendo. Socialism and democracy need plain-talking, truth-telling and clarity. You should offer some clarity now, by making your position on Dempsey’s remarks clear. We urge you to break with him and his co-thinkers. Do not offer the far right a door into the labour movement.

Labour for a Socialist Europe
https://labourforasocialisteurope.org/2019/03/27/open-letter-to-costas-lapavitsas-and-grace-blakeley/

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18 thoughts on “Sharing platforms with social-conservatives, reactionaries and nationalists: Open Letter to comrades Lapavitsas and Blakeley

  1. What a load of bollocks. Eddie Dempsey isn’t apologising for the far right’s racism anymore than agreeing with the BNP’s 2011 policy of not bombing Libya means you’re apologising for the far right’s racism.
    His argument is that the coalition of (mostly middle class) radical liberals, identitarian intersectionalists and progressive neoliberals that make up what I would term the “Wet Left” is not only putting working class people off of Left politics, it is in danger of driving those people rightwards, purely because it’s politics are infantile, divisive and dismiss the concerns of ALL working class people.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One can agree or not with Eddie Dempsey’s politics in whole or in part. However, to say that he is a “Tommy Robinson apologist” is an outrageous slander. Eddie is a working class antifascist socialist.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eddie Dempsey is steadfast in his politics unlike the weak neo liberals that pretend to be socialist but are the bosses lackeys or as my father used to say”Labour in Sunday suits”. The EU is a capitalists dream pitting worker against worker. Driving down wages and increasing profits, the EU is no democracy. To want to stay in it is for the foolhardy. As for the TR crew they are the misguided and downtrodden with a sprinkling of real fascists, racists and a very small number of neo nazis but never the less working class people deceived and denied by the neo liberal capitalist model supported by those with self interests to support capitalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anyone who says Tommy Robinson and his supporters are “right” in their “hatred of the liberal left” (Dempsey’s recorded words) is a total reactionary and no-one who claims to be on the left should share a platform with him. A few comrades whose opinions I respect (ie not Jorge Martin or Mervyn) have persuaded me that simply calling him a “Tommy Robinson apologist” is slightly over the top./ So I’ve changed the headline.

    Like

  5. Dennis Skinner & Ronnie Campbell both voted No Deal
    Are they fascists too?

    No, they’re ex-miners who consistently voted against the Iraq War and the Renewal of Trident.
    But, unlike many middle class Labour MP’s, they understand how negotiations with the bosses work.
    That’s why we need to have mandatory reselection for MP’s before a General election.

    A left-wing Labour government which announced it was leaving the EU would be in the best position to negotiate new terms of trade with it. Whereas the soggy Coalition you coat-trailed last weekend has already telegraphed its terms of surrender.

    It’s simply not in the EU’s interest to engage in a trade war with Britain when VW, Peugeot, EOn & EDF have such huge investments here. They’ll have to agree to some form of Common Market.

    Your comparison with what happened in Germany in the 30’s is absurd.
    The Tories (both right and left) have shot themselves in the foot.
    Farage’s march on Westminister is simply pitiful.

    Fascism does not “creep” .
    – a stupid Maoist theory that Phil Hearse and Neil Faulkner have dug up again.
    They ought to know better.
    Brexit Fascism.

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  6. This whole article is totally disjointed, has no connection with reality, and I can only assume is trying to align political opposites for spurious claims and intentions

    None of it bears any relation to the standpoints of the people mentioned. Anyone that has heard what Costas Lapavitsas has said about Europe knows that he speaks about the undemocratic structures in the EU that can’t be dismantled ……. as they are enshrined in legislation and institutions that make it difficult to change, on one point alone, that it takes all 27 countries to agree. As it stands the Neo-Liberal majority might lose some support in the near future but how long would it take before we get a socialist Europe large enough to transform it? My guess is too long before Europe ended up as it did prior to the second world war.

    To infer that those on the left that want to get out of Europe – can be interpreted as an alliance with the likes of Tommy Robinson is to ignore what the left are actually saying, and purely making mischief.

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  7. I defend Eddie Dempsey against these slanderous accusations of supporting Tommy Robinson. Eddie is a life long opponent of fascism and just because he is a bit vague on what liberal socialists are then it is entirely illegitimate to lump him in with the far right like this.

    And only AWL supporters would take it as read that his position as outlined in that Morning Star was antisemitic.
    And we will take no lectures on internationalism from the AWL whise record of support for British imperialist wars is unrivalled on the left. From the Malvinas war in 1982 to Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

    Eddie told us of the witchhunt against him by Zionists, the AWL are the foremost Zionist organisation on the left, showing an appalling islamophobic contempt for the Palestinians, as Sean Matgamna’s recent rant showed.

    Of course Socialist Fight has big political difference with Eddie and Stalinism in general and we are not slow to fight these out. But Eddie recognised the unprincipled attacks on us by Labour Against the Witchhunt and came to defend us on January 2018 qhen we were witchhunted and expelled. Political differences must be fought out in earnest and we reject the methods of Jim Denham, the Guido Fawkes of the Labour movement.

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    1. Don”t involve yourself in serious politics, Gerry (aka “Socialist Fight”): you’re out of your depth. Why not stick to your usual claims of a world Jewish conspiracy?

      Like

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