SWP and Newcastle TUC: sexist thugs defend Labour, 7 May 2013

FRFI in Newcastle has a record of fighting fascism in unity with other forces, including standing with Newcastle Occupy when it was attacked by drunken EDL thugs in 2011. Yet on 7 May, Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) District Organiser Yunus Bakhsh launched a vicious, sexist attack on Newcastle FRFI supporters when they attempted to join a planning meeting of Newcastle Unites against the EDL. Focusing his vitriol on a female comrade, Dionne, Bakhsh did what the SWP does more and more often today: defend Labour Party officials no matter how appalling their anti-working class record.

Newcastle Unites against the EDL is a coalition of Labour councillors, the SWP/Unite against Fascism and local trade union leaders, set up to counter a national EDL demonstration in Newcastle on 25 May against the proposed conversion of a building into an Islamic faith school. However, while posing as democrats, Newcastle Unites has met in secret, making it clear that it does not want to include those with a real record of fighting fascism. The SWP has been policing this, ensuring that there is no challenge to the Labour councillors involved who only two months ago voted unanimously for £100m cuts to local services.

Having found out that Newcastle Unites was meeting on 7 May in the TUC Centre against Unemployment, three FRFI supporters including Dionne tried to gain entry. Bakhsh immediately confronted them saying there had been a vote at a previous meeting to exclude FRFI because, along with others, its supporters had heckled Labour MP Grahame Morris for his support for Britain’s wars when he spoke at the 2012 May Day rally. When Dionne challenged Bakhsh, he went ballistic, screaming ‘I am not going to listen to politics from someone who doesn’t know shit’, and stood in front of her gesticulating wildly. When Dionne demanded he back off, he got in her face and threatened her: ‘What are you going to do about it, love?’

Bakhsh was not alone. James Simpkin, Secretary of Newcastle TUC, was also involved, telling the FRFI comrade ‘I’ve got the keys to the building, I run the building, and I am telling you to get out’. A female comrade from the Socialist Party arrived at this point and argued that it was wrong to exclude FRFI. Bakhsh turned on her saying that if she didn’t like it she could get out, and if the Socialist Party kept criticising Labour they too would be kicked out. An Asian supporter of FRFI, who pointed out that he was a target of the EDL and yet was being excluded from the meeting, was simply ignored.

As Dionne turned to leave, Simpkin grabbed her by the upper arm and attempted to shove her out of the building – a common assault. Once she was outside Simpkin shouted at her to move away from the door. When she refused he said ‘Go away little girl, or I’ll call the police’ before slamming the door. Several minutes later, as Dionne was talking to an independent anti-fascist, Simpkin walked up behind her and blasted an air-horn directly into her left ear, before laughing and returning inside. The confrontation was observed by Labour councillor Dipu Ahad, the public face of Newcastle Unites. He did nothing: he needs the support of the likes of Bakhsh, the SWP and Simpkin to protect him against criticism for voting for the council cuts.

The stance of Newcastle Unites in excluding those with a record of fighting fascism because they are against the rotten politics of the Labour Party is gross sectarianism. The sexist, bullying behaviour of Bakhsh and Simpkin in defending this is contemptible. FRFI demands a full apology from both.

 

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