RMT’s Hedley denounces “Zionists”…like Roland Rance!

January 15, 2013 at 11:14 am (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, fascism, israel, Johnny Lewis, Middle East, palestine, unions, zionism)

Steve Hedley is the London Regional Organiser of the RMT and, by all accounts, a good left wing militant who in the past has been victimised (and denounced by the Daily Mail ) for union activity. For the record, I do not agree with the label “hideous racist thug” on the clip below.

However, in October 2011 he was accused of antisemitism as a result of what he said to a Jew in the audience (who’d heckled him) at an RMT public meeting entitled ‘Palestine’s fight for Freedom.’ That is where the clip above was filmed (by the heckler, who is also responsible for the label above the clip).

This is a transcript of what was said on that occasion:
SH: We oppose the Israeli government because of the racist policies they are carrying out on the Palestinian people. You can cover it up for so long with your friends in the media but the attack on the Mavi Marmara and the attacks on those innocent women and children have turned into the biggest concentration camp on the earth. This is the reality. You’re an absolute disgrace to the Jewish people. You are a modern-day fascist, you are a modern-day Nazi, by supporting those policies that oppress [inaudible] minority in your own state. No wonder the EDL are flying the flag of Israel. The modern-day Nazi EDL are flying the flag of Israel because it’s the state that they associate with. What the Nazis did to you, you’re doing to the Palestinians.

[Chair calls next speaker who begins]

Heckler: Feel better?

SH: Better than you obviously. But then again you’re the chosen people so you might feel better than me, huh?

Heckler: So its about being Jewish?

SH: It’s about being Zionist.

Most of the left, at the time, ignored this incident, perhaps because the heckler (one Richard Millett) is, supposedly, a “right winger” and because there seems little doubt that Hedley was, to some extent, provoked. On the organised left, only the AWL criticised Hedley, and that was in a very mild and low-key statement.

Now Hedley has involved himself in a further row over “Zionism” and related matters. This time, however, Hedley’s targets are leftists, including well-known and outspoken anti Zionist Jews, several of whom are associated with the extreme (“absolute“) anti Zionist and anti Israel blog Jews sans frontiers.

The row took place on facebook and began when Toby Abse commented on former SWP leader Martin Smith’s association with the notorious antisemite and jazz musician Gilad Atzmon:

Tobias Abse Interesting reminder of the close friendship between Martin Smith and Gilad Atzmon, the notorious proponent of rabidly anti-semitic world Jewish conspiracy theories. During Smith’s leadership of the party Atzmon, a jazz musician, often did gigs for the party or its front organisations. Readers of the article below will note Atzmon’s aggressively sexist and anti-feminist views ( not I think coincidental).

Jews sans frontieres: Bookmark this!

Steve Hedley offs the closet Zionists are now attacking Martin smith,any diversion to stop people condemning the Israeli states atrocities,Abse your politics are lower than a snakes belly you opportunist runt.

Tobias Abse Did the Christian Brothers teach you antisemitism at school – yes, we are all Christ killers aren’t we?

Charlie Pottins Steve, these comrades were fighting Zionism before you had even heard of it. And quite frankly the way you go off like a Pavlov’s dog I think you have a problem. PS, Toby, wrong stereotype, Steve is from a proddy background. But did have a strong Stalinist injection if that is any relevance. Still, he has now uncovered the conspiracy hatched no doubt in the old cemetery at Prague behind the SWP’s little difficulty. I’m surprised the plotters took their time, mind, it would have been more effective if they had gone for Martin Smith while he was still SWP national secretary, rather than giving Smith’s comrades the chance to take their distance from him. I blame that Yigal Gluckstein myself, he was obviously sent over here with a long-term plan.

Steve Hedley You are the one with the problem Charlie i suppose coming from the wrp who were accused of being anti semetic(not that i agree with that by the way) yoy may feel that you need to prove a point by jumping to the closet Zionists defence.I have really not been following the internal rift in the SWP and have little knowledge of how the accusations made were handled and no comment other than to say that they should be investigated by an appropriate outside body.I do feel though that it is very wrong for people who call themselves socialists to gloat over these issues.To top it all
closet Zionists like Tobias Abase are now attacking Martin smith for his alleged links with a Jazz musician(who he claims is anti Semitic),.Smith has an impeccable record of anti racist anti fascist campaigning but this doesn’t seem to matter to Abase and his ilk who it seems will use any diversion to stop people condemning the Israeli states atrocities,Abse your politics are lower than a snakes belly you opportunist runt.

Roland Rance Steve Hedley: You’re not seriously arguing that JsF is a Zionist blog, are you? The SWP, under the leadership of Martin Smith, promoted the antisemitic chauvinist Atzmon long after nearly else on the left had rumbled him. When we picketed Bookmarks because of Atzmon’s lecture there, it was not because of the SWP’s (correct) position on Zionism and Palestine; it was because of their unconscionable support for and promotion of this charlatan.

Luke Cooper That is the most hideous piece of anti-semitism I’ve seen on the left. Ok, I have seen much of it but it is shocking and appalling coming from a leader of a progressive trade union.

Steve Hedley im objecting to guilt by association of an anti racist/anti fascist campaigner by a load of zionist charlatans if the cap fits wear it

Steve Hedley luke who?

Steve Hedley And just how are my comments anti semitic

Roland Rance Steve Hedley:
> how are my comments anti semiticBy your assumption that anyone who objects to Atzmon’s antisemitism is ipso facto a Zionist. In fact, by equating “Jewish” with “Zionist”, you are echoing both antisemites and Zionists. Enjoy your company!

Steve Hedley No Roland you made that assumption not me and by your own reasoning your an anti semite now

Roland Rance Where did I make that assumption? JsF exposed (many years ago) Atzmon, and protested at the SWP’s links with him. You describe them as “closet Zionists” (one of Atzmon’s pet phrases) for this. They are not Zionists, and unlike you I know very well the distinction between the two.

Steve Hedley You see you Zionists deliberately misconstrue any attack on the Israeli state as anti semetic Margaret Thatcher is a Christian Zionist so is George Bush enjoy your illustrious bedfellows.You really have to come up with better tactics to defend the murderous Israeli stae these ones frankly make you look daft.You made the assumption in your last post obviously the memory od a goldfish and the same debating skills.

Roland Rance The claim that I am a Zionist is false. Either you know this, and are delibarately lying in order to smear me, or you do not know this, which means that you have not been involved in Palestine Solidarity work for the past thirty years and have no idea what you are talking about. In either case, I demand that you retract and apologise for this defamatory statement.

Steve Hedley As i said if the cap fits wear it im retracting nothing ,ive posted here in an individual capacity but feel free to run to the bourgeois courts if you like.You on the other hand have labelled me anti simetic which im clearly not.Unlike you ive fought fascists politically and physically just where were you when AFA was fighting the BNP ,i don’t remember you ever putting your welfare on the line ,could it be your just another keyboard warrior?

Tami Peterson @ Steve – Roland and I certainly have our differences but to call him a Zionist and ‘keyboard warrior’ is ludicrous! In my time in politics in the UK Roland was one of the most consistently active and outspoken anti-Zionist activists that I met. You have no idea who you are talking about or you wouldn’t be making such ridiculous statements.

Roland Rance I was in AFA, Steve. In fact, I organised the first AFA conference in Bradford thirty years ago. We had stewards around the town to prevent a possible fascist attack, but had to call them back to conference in order to protect members of the local Asian Youth Movement from physical attacks by members of Red Action. I know all-too-well about racism masquerading as leftist anti-fascism.

Steve Hedley Tami I dont know either of you from Adam and Eve but anyone who throws the Label anti semite at me or inded Martin Smith is not in my opinion a laudable individual anyway your entitled to your opinion ,Roland Rat are you really calling AFA racist youve really lost the plot,

Steve Hedley That should have been Rance not rat

Roland Rance No, I’m not calling AFA racist. Learn to read.

Steve Hedley Your obviously just a middle class patronizing prat there will be no retraction and if the cap fits wear it . I’ve wasted enough time talking to you but feel free to run to the bourgeois courts like the other toy town revolutionaries Rat

Steve Hedley oh dear predictive text again Roland Rance

Tami Peterson Well Steve I personally met Roland, Charlie and the others you are attacking here on many anti-fascist demos. I never, however, had the pleasure of meeting you.

Steve Hedley Same here Tami ive never met you and AFA in which i served ten years didn’t hide behind police lines having demos


  1. bobfrombrockley said,

    Here’s the comment I left at HP, but this is a much better place for it.

    Very odd that Hedley trumpets AFA and Smith/UAF at the same time. The heritage of UAF is the SWP’s expulsion of anti-fascist militants in the original ANL, two decades of SWP sectarian attacks on AFA and its “squadism”, and their re-establishment of the ANL in early 1990s as a direct attack on AFA. Martin Smith stands for the opposite of everything AFA ever stood for.

    I was a London AFA ordinary rank and file member for over a decade and went to some national events, and I have no memory of this Hedley bloke at any event I went to. Maybe he was in a totally different part of the country, so I’m not saying he’s a liar, but I am a little suspicious of his claim to big AFA credentials, especially given his support for UAF. I’d be pleased to be told I’m wrong about this.

  2. Chris said,

    Steve Hedley is not a ‘racist thug’ – it is disgusting this headline is being promoted on this blog.

  3. Chris said,

    If the Evening Standard ran an article like this attacking the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT promoting a headline branding him a ‘racist thug’ there would be outrage in the movement – why then is being accepted on this blog.

  4. Clive said,

    Presumably ‘racist thug’ goes with the embedded clip. But I agree, it’s probably not a helpful thing to say about a trade union leader.

    But that’s hardly the main thing at issue here. I really hope Hedley’s ranting (in the exchange published here, not the clip) gives some people pause. So many on the left are inclined to scream foul at the very suggestion that some stuff which is supposed to be anti-Zionist is, or might be construed as, anti-semitic. But here it could not be clearer that this whole line of argument simply gives licence to awful stuff – in this case, for sure, in part just the arrogance of a man who apparently won’t accept he doesn’t know what he’s talking about; but there’s surely something deeper going on.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Clive is correct: the ‘racist thug’ label came with the clip. Chris presumably didn’t notice what I wrote immediately below the clip:

    “That is where the clip above was filmed (by the heckler, who is also responsible for the label above the clip).”

    • Chris said,

      You should remove it is really vile to be promoting this and I expect better you Jim. Steve is absolutely not a racist and his hard work for migrant workers is admirable and is head and shoulders above many in his position in movement.

      • Jews Sans Stupidite said,

        For “absolutely not a racist” read “Not a racist – merely an antisemite, which doesn’t count as racism and never has”.


  6. Jim Denham said,

    Chris: as Clive says, the label above the clip is hardly the main issue here. I thought I’d made it clear that I don’t agree with that description of Hedley (and if I haven’t, I do so now), who I think has serious problems and is quite representative of a section of the “left” on this issue, but is *not* a “racist thug.”


  7. Boleyn Ali said,

    His activist credentials (real or feigned) are immaterial. This is a perfect example of how “admirable” people lose their critical faculties on these issues.

  8. WTF said,

    Is there no AWL internal ‘discipline’ when postings on the internet by a well-known member are sure to have negative effects on the group’s activities in the labour movement (here: RMT)? Or does the RMT fraction not give a fuck?

  9. Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) said,

    Denham. stopp shillyshallying and call these people what they are. antisemites, racists, cuernts.

    thank you.

  10. Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) said,

    Denham’s shite once agian shows the “third camp” crap up for being the shite it is. I.e. trying to ride two horses at once is fine for an evening’s tawdry entertainment, but no way to conduct an effective campaign aiming at feasible change. For example, fantasising about helping Iraqi “workers to choose the management of factories” – as if that’s going to happen any time soon, in Iraq or anywhere else, and as if Iraqi workers don’t have more pressing and practical issues to address – is pure self-indulgence when there’s a real conflict being fought both inside Iraq [*] and globally [**]. Fast forward to 2013, or rewind to 1905? It’s rigorous thinking that’s needed now, not wishful thinking.

  11. Jim Denham said,

    The post contains nothing beyond facts that are in the public domain. So, WTF, are you suggesting we should keep silent about these facts for fear of “negative effects” in the RMT? That sounds very much like a threat.

  12. modernity's ghost said,

    Steve Hedley would seem to have certain, er, issues.

    But don’t worry, in my experience with such “activists”, a point will be reached when Hedley’s antics become too difficult for even his most fervent supporter.

    Just a matter of time.

  13. Jews Sans Stupidite said,

    Hedley is a disgusting antisemitic cunt. So are the filth who run Jews Sans Frontiers.

    Two sets of scum competing to see who can be the most antisemitic.

    Fuck the revolting, fraudulent “antizionist” movement. Anyone who’s ever attended a PSC demonstration (essentially a Nazi rally with Palestinian flags in place of swastikas), or waded through the sewers of Socialist Unity (Stormfront with a fetish for the Chinese government) knows exactly what these people wish to achieve. Fortunately the world at large doesn’t take any of you seriously. You will not be able to annihilate middle eastern Jews from the comforts of North London, so carry on wanking over pictures of the HAMAS all you like. You (anyone who identifies as an “antizionist” and/or has any sympathies whatsoever with Hedley or JSF) are a laughable, racist irrelevance. History will record you as treacherous, genocidal scum.

  14. Jim Denham said,

  15. Stan Keable said,

    At the top of this blogpost (RMT’s Hedley denounces “Zionists”…like Roland Rance!), Jim Denham wrote:
    Steve Hedley is the London Regional Organiser of the RMT and, by all accounts, a good left wing militant who in the past has been victimised (and denounced by the Daily Mail ) for union activity. For the record, I do not agree with the label “hideous racist thug” on the clip below.

    Nice of you, Jim, to disown the clip label, which is simply misleading. The article would read perfectly well without the videoclip. Why not remove it, then?

    But you have re-posted the videoclip, without the explanatory disclaimer and without the transcript, in your March 9 blogpost (https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/rmt-and-domestic-violence/#comment-54973). It is difficult to hear what is being said, so readers are misled by the “hideous racist thug” caption. The clip may make your blog more sensational, but it doesn’t bring clarity.

  16. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Shame, Stan doesn’t examine the issue of the “good left wing militant” Steve Hedley taking up attitudes more often found on the Far Right

    1) use of the “chosen people”**
    2) his ranting at Roland Rance (a very well known anti-Zionist)

    If you are in any doubt on the usage, see http://www.george-orwell.org/AntiSemitism_In_Britian/0.html

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