by Peter Glover
The convergence of ideas between significant sections of the Left and the nationalist Far Right is worrying and seems to be a new part of the political landscape. This has taken many forms not least the soft-on-Trump line that is prominent across the Left. However there appears to be signs that this development also involves active collaboration. In the UK, a disturbing confirmation of this Red-Brown teamwork has emerged in the light of the spending returns which were submitted to the Electoral Commission after the 2016 Referendum campaign. Spending returns are the reports of how much money has been spent on election campaigning. Arron Banks, a major donor to UKIP and the founder of Leave.EU., owns the company, Better for the Country Limited, that provided £12.4m of “administrative services” to Leave.EU according to an article in “The Independent” newspaper.
Better for the Country Limited and Leave EU, both controlled by Banks, are under investigation by the Electoral Commission over potential breaches of the spending limits during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Banks also has links with organisations claiming to be of the Left.
In a sinister turn of events, Better for the Country Limited made a series of donations to a group called: “Trade Unionists Against the EU” (TUAEU) amounting to a whopping £54,000. This is an unprecedented sum from a prominent Far Right figurehead for a so-called workers’ organisation.
The TUAEU have strong links with the Communist Party but they have also appeared on platforms with the Socialist Party and the Rail and Maritime Trade Union (RMT). The RMT made a significant donation of £30,000 to TUAEU during the Referendum campaign. The RMT actually affiliated to TUAEU in 2016.
RMT members will want to know why so much of the Union’s money has gone into an organisation largely funded by an Arron Banks’ company and what checks have been done to investigate exactly what TUAEU is.
The TUAEU National Convenor is Paul Embery the London Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union. Embery is a regular contributor to “Spiked Online” which itself is a relic of a former Left group reborn as a Far Right mouthpiece. We need to open a discussion about the scandal that means senior trade unions and trade union officials are actively pursuing the agenda of a Far Right funded organisation with links to other groups like the English TUC which in turn appear to have been set up to undermine workers’ rights.
TUAEU is also linked to a bizarre group called the English TUC.
This group advertises TUAEU across its masthead and has set itself up as a bona-fide trade union but the nationalist iconography on its website, replete with English heraldry and English flags is unlike anything else on any other Union website. Interestingly the contact number for the English TUC is Trades Union Congress for England Castle Brook House 75 Swinton Crescent, Unsworth, Bury, Lancashire BL9 8PB. Googling this address, it is interesting to see that this house is flying the flag of St George from a flagpole erected on the side of the house.
Another address for the English TUC is Office B Stanmore House, 64-68 Blackburn Street, Radcliffe, Manchester, M26 2JS. The nature of this group’s funding must also be a concern.
There is an urgent need for all on the Left and in trade unions to take action to stop the rise of the Far Right who are arrogantly masquerading as the Left. This issue should be taken up across the Labour movement.
I agree with Peter Glover’s article about the convergence of the far right with sections of the far left in the UK. This does need combatting within the working class itself and not specifically through the increasingly moribund organisations of the trade unions.
While Glover piece is good on the organisational links between two trade unions I think what is just as worrying is the convergence around nationalist solutions to the current crisis as seen in the so called lexit. This lazy slogan seems to forget that any support for Brexit will only feed into a far right discourse that puts forward national solutions. It is also reminiscent of the suicidal slogans by the German left during the rise of Hitler where they believed that Hitler first then it would be the left’s turn. What is needed is not only a desire to learn from the past but also fresh thinking for todays troubled times.