SWP ejects anti-Zionists from meeting in Newcastle

Israel flags on an 'anti-racist' march

On 2 March, members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) in Newcastle physically prevented RCG comrades from attending a meeting of the Stand up to Racism (SUTR), working with security guards to manhandle comrades from the event. The meeting, entitled ‘The road to Genocide and Institutional Racism’ would not have discussed the institutional racism of the Labour Party – SUTR President is Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who calls for 500 extra border guards and immigration controls dictated by the needs of British business – ie British capital. Nor would it have discussed the decision of SUTR/SWP to allow the Zionist Confederation of Friends of Israel to join the SUTR march in Glasgow later this month.

SUTR is an alliance between the SWP and the Labour Party. For the SWP, sustaining that alliance is far more important than any political principle. Local SWP leader Yunus Bakhsh gave expression to this when he rounded on a young Asian woman who is an FRFI comrade. Leaning over her as she was seated in the meeting, and deliberately getting right in her face, he said, ‘You’re in a racist organisation. You’re not welcome.’ He directed his comment at her friend sitting next to her who was wearing a hijab. The FRFI comrade responded by correctly stating, ‘Its racist having Zionists marching in Glasgow on a SUTR event. You can’t march with Zionists.’ Stepping up the level of aggression, Bakhsh responded with the right-wing Labour trope ‘You don’t think Jews should be allowed to march with us. You’re the racist one. You’re the racist. You can’t have a united march if you exclude a group of people. You need to leave. Get out.’ This was a deliberate reactionary conflation of Zionism with Judaism: but in defending the indefensible, Bakhsh will stoop to any lie.

Bakhsh was not alone in evicting our comrades: his behaviour was just the most noxious, but then as a barrister he expresses most clearly the sort of middle class privilege which epitomises the SWP’s politics. The notion voiced by one SWP member that they are ‘trying to build the broadest possible movement and keep this event non-party political’ is nonsense: the politics of SWP/SUTR are Labour Party politics. It is impossible to pretend otherwise. However many pages Socialist Worker devotes to attacking Zionism as a racist ideology, in practice, the SWP fights against those who are determined to challenge the participation of Zionists on the Glasgow SUTR march. In practice, the SWP defends the participation of Labour racists in SUTR. In practice, the SWP defends pro-cuts Labour councillors who are part of SUTR.

Communist writer John Foster once pointed out that the role of opportunism is to purge the working class movement of anti-capitalist elements and revolutionary consciousness in order to make it safer for economism. This is exactly the role of the SWP: to drive out revolutionaries to protect Labour politicians and trade union leaders, to ensure the continued dominance of this reactionary trend. The SWP may continue to ban revolutionaries from their meeting, may continue to tell lies like Bakhsh, but FRFI will not stop fighting for the revolutionary trend.


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