Something We Said? Vol 1 & 2

Grant Mitchel Look-a-likes
The attraction of this lot is that they kick fascists, though why that should give them an appeal around here we don't know- East Oxford is not the East End of London. RA seem to have got their theories a bit mixed up.
According to them, fascists only get popular because socialism isn't being sold hard enough.(Sorry to use the S word but they are getting all this from Trotsky and he wrote it half a century ago) So anti-fascism is a rearguard action, not the basis of positive politics. So basing your popular appeal around anti-fascism is as ridiculous nationally as it is locally - there aren't enough for it to make a difference so their opponents will be reduced to 'chicken little' bullshit about a minimal peripheral threat when most racists are unorganised or in the Tory Party, neither group being a target for RA's forceful tactics.
When you look at their manifesto - apart from the anti-fascist, pro - prole bit, there's fuck all in it. The usual apple-pie and motherhood stuff about defend the NHS (way revolutionary...!) but that's just padding to sucker more in. Sounds like the same shite the fascists pull - offer everyone everything and when you've got 'em in impose your will.
This inability to (even tolerate) debate points to the highly authoritarian way Red Action actually runs. It's a hive organisation with a couple of queen bees laying down the line in the middle and a bunch of muscle going yeah, anything you say around them as their tribe/fan club/gang. the muscle [Grant Mitchell look-a-likes} ensures they don't even have to think about it so they come across as even more intolerant, moronic and absurd than most Trot cults.
A manifestation of this mindless stupidity is RA's way of dealing with criticism. You say something and they'll say: "Nah, that's all lies that is!" But why argue when they can resort to brute force eh? They'll deny they're Trots but what they say they are varies from month to month depending on what label best suits them politically (ie it doesn't matter to them only Power does). Whatever the label its usually a good 70 years out of date - even the WRP now admit Trotskyism is a corpse. Our view is that if something walks like a duck...
Oxfiend, Green Anarchist newsletter Jan 1997

All We Need to Win

Nowadays, however the Communist threat has evaporated, so street corner punch-ups with a few dozen leftists, students and drunken Red Fenians will win us no friends and only give the police more excuses to arrest and bring trumped charges against key nationalists...
The public does not have the slightest reason to worry about Red Action. Immediately after their crushing defeat in Southwark, the papers of the main Marxist proponents of physical confrontation with nationalists were full of alarm over the way in which the BNP had been able to mobilise popular working class anger against immigration and those who support it.
More recently a different problem has been exercising their strategists in papers such as Fighting Talk and even more so, in the internal Position Papers of Anti-Fascist Action. Their complaint is that having driven the fascists off the streets and onto the estates the resulting lack of exciting punch ups is leading their supporters to drift away and their organisation to atrophy.
Their solution to this is to plan to form a political wing to contest seats in council elections so as to provide disillusioned Labour voters with a 'socialist alternative' and so stop them voting BNP. While they are dreaming their pipe dream, nationalists will note that such a move will expose their key personnel, making it very easy for small groups of dedicated patriots to contact then personally and, through intensive discussions, persuade them to leave our candidates, canvassers, and leafletters in peace - which is all we will need to win.
Nick Griffin, Spearhead, Issue 333.

A Big Issue

A brutal turf war between football hooligans linked to political extremists is set to rock Scotland. Members of Celtic Soccer Crew - a team of violent football casuals - claim they have joined forces with a militant left-wing group and plan to launch a series of attacks on rival hooligans linked to the far-right. One CSC the politicisation of soccer casuals is a new development in the on going violence between Celtic and Rangers hooligans. Red Action who advocate direct action against fascism, are believed to be recruiting outside Celtic Park on a regular basis. The CSC member said: "We are united with Red Action on a political front over Ireland and over the destruction of fascist groups in Scotland."
The Big Issue, Scotland 6.3.97.

England My England

There are of course other extremist groups in this country who tried to drive us away from football, groups such as Anti-Fascist Action, Red Action, etc.
The game should be wary of them. If these people had their way then every club would have a black man, a woman and a homosexual playing for them. Anyone but a white Englishman.
They believe that setting up Asian only Leagues, gay-only sides in London, the flying of the Irish flag at Celtic park is fine. Yet they would burn down the clubhouse of a team with a white-only policy, target fans that carry our flag and will brand everyone that stands up and sings God Save the Queen at Wembley a racist Nazi. They have a pathological hatred of people singing 'No surrender to the IRA'. Why? Are they for an organisation that blows people up. Woe betide you if you don't agree with them..
.It is said that both AFA and RA have strong connections with both MI5 and Special Branch - something which is backed up by the shall we say 'lean' sentences given out to their street fighters when attacking people showing pride in their country. Supposed fascist spokesman, England my England by Dougie and Eddy Brimson authors of the best seller Everywhere We Go.

Anarcho Communists

One clearly identifiable anarcho communist digression, which claims that its theory has its roots in Marxism, is nevertheless totally opposed to the leadership of the proletariat being undertaken by politically advanced workers that are self -organised into a communist party. It asserts that the party thereby substitutes itself for the class and this is particularly the case when the party's leading role is constitutionally interrelated with the political power of the workers state. The anarcho-communist digression is most recognisable in the views, often put forward by Red Action.
Open Polemic, No 6 January 1997


The protest march that sparked violent disturbances in Downing Street and Trafalgar Square was hi-jacked by anarchist and Left-wing hooligans, its organisers claimed yesterday...A Reclaim The Streets spokesman said: "I saw some of our people actually trying to stop yobbos who had got tanked up on beer and were mindlessly throwing bottles and rocks. A few of our contingent actually put themselves in the firing line and one was beaten up by someone who said he was from 'Red Action.'
Daily Telegraph 14.4.97

Going Gets Tough
Founded in 1985 this [AFA] is a small (usually) well organised street-oriented group who believe in ideologically and physically confronting fascists. Their strong point is dedication and a keen sense of security. A possible drawback is that they have a tendency to want to work with others only on their own terms. That said, if the going gets tough, you'd be far better standing next to these characters (many of whom are in Red Action) than the Anti Nazi League.
Green Party Anti-Racist Anti-Fascist Network Spring 1997

A Pleasant Change
One of the most interesting publications on the revolutionary left is the irregular Red Action. The group of the same name which is committed to a form of libertarian or anti-Leninist communism usually manages to provoke controversy and stimulate debate - for whatever reason. So it is always worth a read, and as an added bonus it can sometimes be quite amusing.
Makes a pleasant change it has to be said. Red Action's editorial reminds us, quite pertinently that fascist parties, groups and movements are growing, particularly in continental Europe. It points to the unfortunate fact that Le Pen's Front National "is now the largest working class party in France. In the 1995 presidential elections 27% of blue collar workers voted for Le Pen...The same trend is applicable throughout Europe" (Spring 1997)
This brings RA to its fundamental point, which is a cutting dig at its bete noire 'orthodox' Trotskyism: "The long cherished belief that fascism's constituency was exclusively drawn from petty bourgeois elements has been shattered. In fact the reverse has happened. It is not only primarily but exclusively from this strata that the conservative Left (ie, the revolutionary left DP] recruits."
Now, while you do not necessarily have to agree with RA's overall analysis or its terminology it is still a point worth making. Certain schools of Trotskyism have rigidly maintained that fascism can only come from a movement of the despairing petty bourgeois. In other words, any right/reactionary movement which does not conform 100% to the analysis laid out by Leon Trotsky - primarily in his writings on Germany - cannot 'on principle' be fascist.
From this dogmatic perspective, some organisations, most notably the Revolutionary Communist Party, steadfastly maintained that the Argentinian junta could not be possibly classified as fascist because it was not drawn from or composed of, the petty bourgeoisie. Such ideas need to be punctured. In quite a good turn of phrase, Red Action concludes from all this that , "this situation has arisen not because the conservative left have proved to be bad anti-fascists, but because they are bad revolutionaries" - an argument that has some power and force to it.
However, one of RA's fatal flaws is its localism and complete inability to grasp the necessity of revolutionary organisation, in the all round sense. Thus, in an otherwise cogent and insightful critique of the SWP's Marxism '96 it ends up telling us:
"In the struggle to create the conditions for socialist transcendence it is clearly better to have a much smaller organisation rooted in, an orientated toward, local working class communities, and which can earn the respect of the people it is attempting to attract." While it is hardly astonishing that an explicitly anti-Leninist group has no grasp of what we call 'Partyism', it is a tad regrettable that energetic and committed comrades like these have such an eyes-down attitude. Immersing yourself in community politics is obviously not the answer.
Weekly Worker, January 1997

Double Standards
In 1981-82 a number of working class members of the SWP left, or were expelled, to set up a new group, Red Action. The pamphlet they produced explaining why they left and what the new group would be is an important one in the relationship of the Left to the working class. It documents clearly the failings of the SWP, especially how it alienates the majority of working class people who come into its orbit. Red Action portrays itself (very convincingly) as being a non-sectarian, non-dogmatic organisation well aware of the failings of the authoritarian left.
However, Red Action has also proved itself to be very much a bastard child of the SWP when it comes to how it relates to other left groups. It is also an excellent example of the double standards that much of the Left have. When it comes to this group the advice should be to ignore what they say, and look very closely at what they do.
We have already mentioned the idea of the 'siege mentality'. With Red Action the siege mentality reaches a new height which they articulate with headlines like 'No-one likes us we don't care'. This may well be true, but since every edition of it is obsessed with slagging of the Left and anarchists it can hardly be surprising.
This siege mentality is not confined to its paper: Years of 'squadist' organising (they have spent the last 15 years in a never-ending battle with the far-right) have not made for an open and democratic structure. This is fine if you are a 'crew' fighting fascists, but different rules apply when it comes to organising openly and working with other groups.
Violence is a strong part of their culture, both internally and externally. A typical example of this is the Glasgow organiser who threatened a Class War Celtic supporter with a knife for the heinous crime of selling a Celtic fanzine on what he considered his turf. The organisers violent sectarian behaviour has been the subject of at least one document circulating the Left and he has recently tried to explain this by referring to a dispute within anti-fascist groups, but his sectarian behaviour goes back years before this and remains a problem.
This example is far from unique within Red Action, which is logical when you consider the contents of their paper - when it comes to anarchists in particular, it has taken sectarianism to absurd and obsessive levels. To be fair to Red Action members some have been embarrassed by their paper's attitude, but the best they can come up with is to explain that 'London' produce the paper and it's not their views. But what sort of organisation has a membership so witlessly unable to influence what its paper says? One that is closer to the SWP in organisation and practice than they like to think, particularly when it comes to the matter of leaders and followers.
Perhaps when Counter Information described them as 'Leninist boot-boys' they weren't a million miles from the truth.
Another feature of Red Action is that they are unable to accept, in any circumstances, that they may be wrong. They will argue they are right, and everyone else isn't till the cows come home. Their favourite quote is how the Left is about as dangerous as a pond full of ducks. True, but for the 'Left' read 'everyone but Red Action' - their breathtaking arrogant attitude is 'if only everyone else were like us...'
Red Action also do a nice turn in hypocrisy. They've been slinging lies, smears and disinformation toward everyone else for years, but they get hot under the collar when the finger's pointed at them (see the editorial in RA 73 for details). We could go on and on, but there's little point: Most people who've come into contact with this group know what they're like. Red Action no doubt, will do their usual hatchet job in reply. Red Action have made their bed, now they must lie in it...almost certainly alone.
Class War Summer 1997

Most groups on the Left didn't want to discuss them. What frightens many people on the Left about Red Action is not that they are big boys who are going to come around and and break a few heads. It's the damage they feel that RA can do to the whole left-wing ÔcauseÕ. Critics see them as the National Front with a few left-wing credentials tagged on.
The NF were not too keen to discuss them either but Ian Stewart, the lead singer of Skrewriver told us: The only real street battles the NF have been involved in have been with Red Action.
Blitz magazine interview 1988

(Grampian Red Action) describe the Orange Order as a 'natural constituency for fascism', but fail to elaborate on how they arrive at that conclusion, but attempt to justify their statement by describing the actions of Combat 18. We are also aware that 'Red Action' banners were prominent in a Connolly Association Parade in Edinburgh indicating their support for the terrorist organisation, the Provisional IRA. It would therefore appear that Grampian Red Action is indeed a 'natural constituency' for terrorists.
Jack Ramsay, Grand Secretary, Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. Big Issue (Scotland) August 95.

It appears that the main Red Action mob has not turned up yet. Keep an eye out for the ones without placards and not shouting slogans'.
TSG commanding officer in aside to underling. Saoirse picket, Royal Tournament, Earls Court. 28.7.95.

The conventional wisdom, in the words of Peter Wright, author of Spycatcher, is that the far left in Britain is about as threatening as a pond full of ducksÓ, but in Red Action's case there seems to be some substance to the claim that the rest of the left are imposters.
A Scotland Yard source says that the police expectation of Red Action is two-fold: first, that there may be some forging of closer links with revolutionary groups on the Continent, particularly where those groups are involved in violent clashes with Fascists; and secondly, that RA will associate themselves with causes (other than Ireland) where they see potential opportunity for the overthrow of the British Government.
The Independent On Sunday. 29.1.95.

Red Action are another Left group intent on establishing a separate identity. They're very into being mysterious and underground', Tom (Socialist Organiser) warns. They're like the people in the French Connection film who keep jumping on and off trains and making phone calls. I meet four burly Red Action members outside an Islington pub, from here I'm quickly escorted to another pub, probably the only one in North London that's completely empty.
Big Issue Nov 94.

The vigilance of MI5 and the security services in relation to the far-right appears to allow an organisation calling itself Red Action: in effect, a criminal conspiracy which has a policy of employing physical violence against those whose politics it disagrees and which has two members currently serving jail sentences for an IRA bombing campaign in London. The total failure of the authorities to take any measures against this group, or others involved in attacks on BNP members during the May election campaign, suggests that the state security agencies which are supposed to act in defence of democracy are not doing their job very effectively.
BNP leader John Tyndall.
British Nationalist No305 July 1994.

Most people who have been involved in the struggle for a few years will be aware of this tiny group of mugs, misfits and cowards who call themselves Red Action. We at C18 who have monitored this bunch of no good fucking queers just regard them as one big joke which gets funnier everytime we hear it. The image they try and put over is that of a mob who've had enough and just want it with the fascists at every opportunity. In reality they are a bunch of 40-50 wankers who would never make it in any football firm in this country. Their 'claim to fame' is that they've beaten up a few skinheads, pensioners and women on their way to right-wing events. Anytime they have ventured near a large number of racists they always bring a bigger mob of police who they can stand behind and call us names...So there you have it lads, Red Action, the left's so-called hardmen have bottled it on every occasion they've had to prove themselves, but have shown themselves to be a bunch of tossers. They give it the big one when they're being protected by the Old Bill but wouldn't dare venture near our mob and stand!
Part of a five page 'morale booster' in Issue No.1 of Combat 18

Last Sunday's so-called quality press launched a crude witch-hunt against the supposed involvment of Trotskyists in the recent bombings of the IRA...Red Action is charged with being an extremist Trotskyist organisation. In fact this group has never claimed to be Trotskyists.
The Trotskyist Workers Press, 3 April 1993

Red Action uses violence, or the threat of it, not just against the neo-nazi right, but against those it disagrees with on the Left
Concerned Citizens Against Terrorism 1993.