0161 Statement of support for Eddie Dempsey

On the 26th of March 2019, a “Full Brexit” rally was held in London by a series of individuals and groups from across the left that support leaving the E.U.. One of the speakers at this conference was Eddie Dempsey, a member of the R.M.T. (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union) and, amongst other things, a vocal and active antifascist.

Since addressing this rally, Eddie has been subject to a torrent of smears, manipulations, abuse and outright lies from some extreme pro-E.U. sections of the online left. This originated with an article posted on the online blog “Shiraz Socialist” which is linked with “Another Europe is Possible”, a campaign group that targets the Labour left with pro-E.U. propaganda and is funded by the E.U. itself, amongst others. In the article, the author Jim Denham accuses Eddie of being of, if not in, the far right. To summarise the article, it essentially accuses Eddie of pandering to the far right and giving fascism a “door into the labour movement”. This is a a brazen lie, and is grounded in nothing whatsoever. As can be seen from the footage of the meeting, the point actually made is that the far right are capitalising on Brexit by exploiting the strong anti-E.U. feelings of many working class communities around the country, and that this must be stopped and reversed by the left. Since the publication of this article, there have been several instances of it being shared, all with almost universal condemnation from the labour and antifascist movements.

This reached a peak when the Labour MP Clive Lewis, who is allegedly on the left of the Labour Party, shared the article on Facebook and Twitter, repeating the allegation that Eddie was sympathetic to and even possibly a member of the far right. This is naked opportunism from a career politician trying to cash in some brownie points by looking like he’s hard on fascism. What he has actually achieved is to draw condemnation from across the entire labour movement, including hundreds trade unionists and of members of his own party. As they have pointed out, Eddie Dempsey is a veteran trade unionist and antifascist. In fact, Eddie and other R.M.T. comrades were attacked last year by a group of fascist Tommy Robinson supporters because of their union’s unwavering commitment to challenging the far right wherever they show up.

The accusations levelled against Eddie are sectarian and an extremely dangerous attempt to weaponise antifascist sentiment in favour of the E.U., as well as an unjustified attack on a valued working class antifascist. As proud antifascists, 0161 utterly condemns this attempt to discredit Eddie Dempsey using lies and smear tactics.

NB: 0161festival.com is a platform for sharing a variety of articles about sports, arts, politics, history and Manchester. 

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