The RMT likes to pose as Britain’s most “left-wing” (and/or “militant”) union. There is some factual justification for that pose, based upon strike statistics and an uncompromising opposition to all the anti-union laws.
But there has long been a less attractive side to this stance: anti-EU nationalism (an inheritance from former general secretary, the late Bob Crow), an ignorant, neo-Stalinism as the political norm for anyone hoping to “get on” within the union, a macho, anti-feminist culture amongst at least a section of its leading members and a willingness to close ranks around members of the leading clique even when they come out with some very dodgy stuff.
The response to clique-member Eddie Dempsey’s notorious speech at the “Full Brexit” rally held in London on 26 March, has been typical. 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.”
He went on to say “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.”
Dempsey’s speech was immediately denounced in a powerful statement from Clive Lewis MP.
The Morning Star reported (with obvious approval) from the union’s AGM last week:
CLIVE LEWIS has been expelled from the RMT’s parliamentary group after having made a “false and defamatory attack” on a railway worker.
Conference delegates at the union’s annual conference in Manchester said that the Norwich South MP was “unfit” to represent the RMT after he compared member Eddie Dempsey to fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley in a tweet several months ago.
Mr Dempsey was also called a “Tommy Robinson apologist” by Mr Lewis, who recently threatened Jeremy Corbyn that his position as leader is “in peril” if he does not commit to an anti-Brexit position.
Delegates condemned Mr Lewis’s attack on Mr Dempsey, a former RMT national executive committee member.
…Or, as one observer has commented, with bitter irony:
“Eddie Dempsey’s views aren’t racist! Now let’s drive out the black man who says otherwise!”
P.S: the AGM also passed a resolution supporting Chris Williamson. Surpise, surpise …