Something We Said!?!

Quotes from the press

Volume 4, Issue 11, May/June '01

We're fed this inert lying phrase like comfort food as another little Palestinian boy in trainers and a white tee-shirt is gunned down by the Zionist SS whose initials we should - but we don't - dumb guys - clock in that weasel word "crossfire."
Tom Paulin, The Observer, 15.2.01, (see Big Issue, Red Action, Vol. 4 Issue 9, Nov/Dec 2000)

Not only does anti-racism sometimes painfully mimic the language of racism (the use of black as well as Asian are worth deconstructing in this context) but anti-racists too often trip over their own logic. If it is wrong that "Asians" are represented in football so far below their proportion in the population, why is it right that black people (of Afro-Caribbean origin) are represented so much above? Racism in sport should be stamped out: real racism not imaginary.
Geoffrey Wheatcroft, commenting on the Asians in Football initiative which 'encourages' youngsters to take up football in the belief that the absence of a profile in the professional game is down to 'prejudice'. Guardian, 8.8.01

The British are the most hostile to political refugees of all EC people, according to a report from the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia... in the UK 23% questioned in the survey of more than 16,000 Europeans said political asylum seekers who had suffered human rights violations in their own countries should not be accepted.
The Guardian, 21.3.01

The last refuge of the scoundrel used to be patriotism. Modern scoundrels hide behind accusations of racism. There are members of the present government, for example who are seriously going about telling people that the calls for the resignation of Minister for Europe, Keith Vaz, are "racist"... The logic used by Vaz defenders is of course in itself deeply racist.
Alison Pearson, London Evening Standard, 21.3.01

In the comfortable far-off days of the Thirties and Forties a mans' work was more about position than pay - the way to get on was thorough loyalty and long service, and in return a company provided a job for life. But in the Seventies and Eighties all that changed. Nowadays, it's all about money, and "contract culture" means there is little security. The result is that contrary to the usual conclusion that "we're all middle class now" we really are all working class now.
Evening Standard comment on BBC series Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl, 30.3.01

Nineteenth-century social theory is dead. Of course it is of only academic interest. The conflictual model of prole and bourgeois, capitalist and worker, is gone with the mills that manufactured it. Imperialism too is gone. New technologies of oppression have replaced empire. You wonder that no-one will listen to your politics? Is it any wonder! Your language is as dead as your society. Empire is gone, the masses have moved - or been moved on.
Neil Pattison, letter printed in Weekly Worker , 29.3.01

Eg, for SWP leader John Rees the Socialist Alliance is a united front of a special kind, a stealth theory which in actual fact camouflages plans to build his confessional sect. Such an essentially dishonest and self-serving approach complacently assumes that the revolutionary party already exists - its initial for comrade Rees, being S, W, and P of course.
Jack Conrad, Weekly Worker, 29.3.01

A racist incident is reported to the police in London every 25 minutes and numbers have quadrupled since the Macpherson Report... Sir John concedes it is "an incredible figure" but he views the reports as good news. "It means to say that people from ethnic minorities have the confidence to report these cases hoping something positive will be done".
Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John Stevens, Evening Standard, 5.4 01. What no one in the race relations industry seems prepared to answer is, if one very 25 minutes is 'good news', at what stage - one every minute? - 25 every minute? does it begin to become bad news?. ED

...the road the South African government went down, which led to aparthied and a two-tier schools system.
Gary Craig professor of social justice at Hull University responding to state funding for a Muslim only school in Bradford, 2.3.01

This just in: according to a new poll half of all 14-25 year-olds in the old East Germany believe "the Nazis had their good points", by which, I assume they don't mean der Fuhrer was kind to animals... No, I don't think of Britain as an anti-Semitic country or not irreedemably so at least. But there's part of me which would prefer not to see the results of the same poll taken in Britian.
John Diamond, Sunday Telegraph, 11.2 01

The AC poll questioned 537 people in detail about their views on racial equality in Britain today. The street survey was carried out in Manchester, Blackburn, Liverpool and Bradford... Three quarter of White respondents thought that ethnic minority communities recieve too much advice and assistance from the government.
Campaign for Racial Equality press release 2.4.01

Because of our necessarily high expectations for the Socialist Alliance, communists have sought all available means to build an authoritative centre - the word 'authoritarian' does not bother us at all.
Jack Conrad, Weekly Worker, 5.4.01

Whatever other criticisms can be levelled against Sinn Fein, few would accuse the party of failing to see the big picture. On the contrary, as our front-page account today suggests, they are congenital gazers into the future, forever shaping a long term strategy - and a strategy for the period after that... They are breathing down the necks of the Social Democratic Labour Party, casting themselves now as the energetic authentic voice of nationalism/republicanism... If they don't overtake the SDLP this time they reckon they will at the next. What blots this sunny horizon? You might think the change within unionism would alarm republicans a bit. The Ulster Unionist Party could take a pasting at the next election, surpassed by Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party; even within the UUP, those who support the Good Friday Agreement could lose out to those who say no. David Trimble may well be ousted, leaving Sinn Fein to deal with a naysayer like Jeffrey Donaldson. Surely that would trouble Sinn Fein? Not a bit of it. If unionism walks away from the agreement, republicans have a plan B and C.
The Guardian, Editorial, 12.4 01

Volume 4, Issue 10, March/April '01

Under it’s present leadership, the BNP has already ‘moderated’ its position; replacing the unsaleable compulsory repatriation policy with ...financially assisted resettlement. Similarly, we have confirmed as permanent the decision accepted only reluctantly on an experimental basis in the past - to avoid counter-productive confrontations with the far-left.
BNP magazine, Identity Oct/Nov 2000

American Holocaust museums are not keen on finding space for the communists, the socialists, the trade unionists and the mentally ill - Hitler’s first victims - either... Holocaust commemoration is too often the manipulation of the past for the present purposes... US and Israeli Jewish leaders have disgraced themselves by claiming that the suffering of the Jews was unique and used it to brand protest against the persecution of the Palestinians with race laws and overwhelming force, as anti-semitism. If what happened to the Jews is unique, replied the brilliant (and Jewish) Peter Novick what are these ‘lessons’ Holocaust days are meant to teach us? Surely the unique can never be repeated and we can all therefore ignore it.
Nick Cohen, Observer 5. 10.00.

JR argued that disillusion with New Labour is reflected in lower electoral turnouts and it is vital to unite socialists to fill this vacuum or the beneficiaries could be the greens or even the far right.
Comment by leading SWPer John Rees at annual conference as reported in Weekly Worker, 23. 11.00.

What is the use of slogan which is palpably untrue? Some comrades actually suggested that it’s purpose was to provide a degree of comfort to the communities and groups being targeted. As a sentiment, this is quite laudable -it is a "statement of human solidarity" as comrade Mountford put it. As a political slogan, a response to a real problem in our class as whole, it is absolutely hopeless. As comrade Heemskirk of the SP correctly observed,"who does it convince?" It seems to imply the battle is won - clearly untrue.
CPGB’s Mark Fischer reporting on the discussion revolving around Red Action’s resolution to the LSA executive, calling for strategies for confronting racism to be ‘critically re-evaluated’. Weekly Worker, 14. 12.00.

Volume 4, Issue 9, November/December '00

Red Action has been grossly criticised for daring to be involved in an anti-mugging campaign in Birmingham and for venturing to suggest that the SWP slogan ‘Asylum Seekers Welcome Here’ was simplistic and unwise. This mirrored our unhappiness when the old Leeds Class War group refused to distribute ‘No Muggers No Burglars’ stickers in case they were seen as “racist”, and our sense of unease that the May Day 2000 publicity included a sticker with a virtually identical slogan on Asylum Seekers to the SWP. The more things change the more they remain the same!
London Calling, Class War Newsletter October 2000

Someone asked about ‘parity of esteem’. There can’t be parity of esteem between Apartheid and non-racialism. We have to say it is wrong. What are apologising for? Sorry that we fought for freedom? No. We are committed to non­racialism. We don’t accede to their bluster, to concede to some weird arrangement of special treatment, or a special number of seats or some ‘concession’ like that.
Robert Macbride, legendary ANC operative. Republican News. 2 .9.00

You have to free yourself in your head. Only then can you bring about a transformation in society. Even if there was a revolutionary socialist government here it would not be able to do all that is necessary. It would run up against partition. The people you are dealing with not only feel disempowered, but they have no role models today. Go into a proud working class areas of Dublin like Sean McDermott Street, where nearly 100 people have died from the drugs, the response shows the disempowerment of people. If we leave it all to small groups of activists, then we won’t get the Ireland we’re looking for. Empowerment is a prerequisite.
Gerry Adams, Republican News, 2l .9.00

All the democratic parties have pledged not to form alliances with the Vlaams Blok. Due to the attitude of other parties, it is doomed to disappear in the long run. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is because of their attitudes that the Vlaams Blok is flourishing.
Guardian journalist. Gary Younge, on the comments of the Belgian premier after the far-right party won a third of the votes in Antwerp city elections earlier this year

Volume 4, Issue 8, September/October '00

Red Action gave what was for some, a controversial presenta­tion on anti-racism and the white working class, arguing that official anti-racism is a mask for liberal hostility to the poor, and how the ideas of multiculturalism are used to set different groups within the working class against each other.
Weekly Worker comments on address to Communist University 2000. 24.8.00.

Working class areas, especially those ravaged by drugs, poverty, and a whole myriad of socials problems, end up having to cater for people many of whom have even more social problems. They haven’t got barristers chairing the local residents association, nor have the time to create fictitious problems when confronted with so many real real ones ...[Government] must take a lead in ensuring that refugees and immigrants are given fair oppor­tunities and that they are housed according to the facilities available not according to the ease with which the well-heeled cappucino mob can secure a NIMBY decision.”
Republican News responds to successful High Court challenge by middle class residents in the South of Ireland against a reception centre for asylum seekers being placed in their area

I have argued that the military campaign was necessary and, equally, now I would argue that it is no longer necessary ...Until the Brighton attack we were not being taken seriously be the British political establishment. We were trapped in the acceptable level of violence and it is impor­tant that the only way we could have lost this war was to be trapped in indefinitely fighting it.
‘Brighton Bomber’ Patrick Magee. Daily Telegraph, 28 8.00

He never expected a hetero­sexual couple to be drinking in a gay pub with gay friends. The fact that the people he killed belonged to such a group is not as some commentators have suggested, proof that we live in far more harmonious and tolerant society than Copeland believed, If Copeland is a product of that same society how can this possibly be? ...He’s the face of the future and in one form or another he’ll be back.
Maureen Freely. The Independent. 3.7.00

Volume 4, Issue 7, June/July '00

The renewed presence of Sinn Fein ministers in a northern executive will make it all the easier for Sinn Fein ministers to be accepted in the South... republicans will thus be able to progressively integrate the two jurisdictions from both sides of the border. Once embedded in the structures of the southern state, Sinn Fein will further be able to radicalise the Republic - a process which is already well under way.
Daily Telegraph Leader, 8.5.00

It was once thought that in the course of the peace process, repub­licanism would become constitu­tionalised. It now seems more likely that constitutional nation­alism is becoming republicanised.
Arthur Aughey, Senior Lecturer in Politics University of Ulster, The Observer, 7.5.00

A memorial, a statue, a McDonalds, and a ticket office, what big men they must be?
Daily Mirror, 2.5.00

None of the mayoral candidates has departed in any serious way from the government’s horrible asylum agenda... By contrast all the LSA candidates have used their platforms to say that refugees are welcome here, and they have met with loud applause at dozens of meetings all over London. ‘Comedian’, Jeremy Hardy.
The Guardian, 29.4.00

In early Nineties, the Australian Labour Party started to suffer from the attrition of their core supporters. Where did they go? They stayed at home. A conversa­tion last week with Australian politician Wayne Swan indicated that ‘things have moved on’. ‘Many-stay-at homes’ now do turn out to vote - for the xenophobic extremism of Pauline Hanson.
Former Labour Minister Peter Kilfoyle, The Observer. 16.4.00

The phrase ‘socialist movement’ is now, itself, a sign of defeat in it’s quaintness: even ‘Labour movement’ has gone out of fashion as the trade unions and the party seek their salvation separately.
John Loyd. Scotland on Sunday, 5.3.00

We have decommissioned the boot.
BNP leader Nick Griffin, Independent on Sunday Magazine.

Volume 4, Issue 6, April/May '00

“New Labour represents a set of politics that says the best thing that can be done for the lower orders is to give them a good Slapping. Get them to shape up. Get them to be like us, stop drinking and eat Italian food! We live in an age where racial hatred is persona non grata, so is hatred of women and hatred of gays, but the one thing that’s flourishing is class hatred?”
Nick Cohen, Observer columnist and author. Black Flag issue 218.

In the past they’d look to the Left, where do they go now? So we’re faced with two possible and equally depressing scenarios. 1) we become like America, with a massive underclass, which is politi­cally passive and you lock up huge amounts of people or 2) we become like parts of Europe with a quasi FN on the rise.
Nick Cohen, same Black Flag interview.

You know there are two racisms. There is the racism that discriminates and the racism that kills. Middle-class black people, they have the CRE’s community relations councils, pundits, the whole bloody works, there’s an infrastructure for them. But the racism that kills - the Stephen Lawrences, Ricky Reels, Michael Mensons - they don’t have anyone.
Veteran anti-racist campaigner -A. Sivanandan. The Guardian, 4,99.

We are now in an odd situation. For the first time in a hundred years the working class can no longer be said to have its own political party.
Linda Grant, The Guardian, 2.2.00.

The need for greater diversity - the rallying cry of my university years, is now not only accepted by the culture industries, is the mantra of global capital.
Naomi Klien, author of the Book No Logo. The Observer, 23.1.00.

We need to show by example and not just by polemics that if you really want to fight the State, the police, the fascists, then the best place to be is with the commu­nists, because we are the ones that really mean business. Red Action and AFA actually did this to a limited extent, and it was effective particularly within the field of the struggle with the BNP. The combi­nation of Leninist discipline and organisation with the street presence of AFA would be dynamite.
Socialist Labour Party, internet site: Youth list.

Volume 4, Issue 5, Feb/March '00

I saw it in Oldham, which is now really, really, poor. The white people are what they’d call in America “white trash”. There are lots and lots of young Pakistanis, and most of them are making money, wheeling and dealing, wearing the suits - and the hatred from the whites, the real bitter, twisted hatred... I’d never come across before. It was violent hatred. They wanted the Pakistanis physically eliminated. And I saw it in Dover, where the refugee row was going on. People told me there were Albanians, Kosovars, wandering the streets, smothered in gold, and stocking up at the butchers every day with their tax money. Ha, I could hardly find any. I found three Kosovar kids on a bench. They’d lost their father lost everything, didn’t have any hope. And the locals were throwing stones at them. I cried. I thought “This place has the mark of the Beast”.
Darcus Howe on the research   for his programme ‘White Tribe’, Observer, 9.1.00

It’s looking back that I saw what we were doing, the gradual conditioning process of the screws. Prison work? We’ll work. What to an outsider might have appeared as capitulation after the Hunger Strike, but which, very slowly, gave us increasing freedom to move about the jail, and created the conditions that made the escape possible. Escape from the most secure prison in Europe. It was a model for the Peace Process. There are many different ways to skin a cat.
IRA POW Gerry Hanratty in interview, Republican News, 16.12.99

The IWCA emerged from a campaign to stymie the BNP in local elections on the Isle of Dogs in 1995. Anti-fascists sensed that without a credible alternative the far-right would clean up in the vacuum created by Labour’s desertion of the working class.
Ben Skelton, Red Pepper. Dec/Jan 2000

Shaun Woodward has left one centrist party, which has remained true to its centrist tradition, for another centrist party, which has moved to the centre and on some issues to the far right, from its previous left-wing tradition... If Labour is now the natural party for Shaun Woodward, how can it still be the party for those who need it most?
William Rees Mogg, The Times, 27.12.99

Volume 4, Issue 4, Dec '99/Jan '00

They felt that talking was not enough and wanted action. This was at the end of 1991-beginning of 1992, a time when the BNP and other extremists were being successfully targeted at public meetings by anti-fascist groups. There were many street confronta­tions with a group called AFA and it’s parent organisation Red Action, an extreme left wing group. It was a dangerous time to be on the Right. C18 saw its role as a “stewarding” group to protect these meetings.
A Hate Watch interview with journalist Nick Ryan, website:

Will AFA give them [NF] a free run? In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the BNP encountered stiff opposition from these reds but was able to carry on because of the determina­tion of BNP adherents, and the numbers that could be mobilised. Today, however aggressive its members, the NF have no such numbers... the Front’s tactics for going on the streets has also split it internally with its Chairman realising that it is only a matter of time before the diminutive Front comes badly unstuck.
BNP organiser Tony Lecomber, Patriot.

And what would they offer if they [the reds] did turn their hands to politics? That it’s wonderful to be ethnically cleansed from your Street? That it’s progressive to make women wear veils?
Tony Lecomber, same issue of Patriot.

A slight smugness is detectable in British reactions to the electoral success of Jorg Haider’s Freedom Party in Austria. What can you expect from a country that largely welcomed the Anschluss and chose Kurt Waldheim as its President only a few years ago? Couldn’t happen here could it? Probably not but it would be dangerously complacent to ignore our homegrown fascists altogether. After years of hiberna­tion something is stirring in their malodorous lair.
Guardian columnist Francis Wheen, 13.10.99

The SWP is a sect par excellence - it has little or no rationale for its existence apart from its existence. It lives to recruit... the stresses and strains that are beginning to erode ‘party’ unity have yet to find organ­ised expression amongst the rank and file. It can only be a matter of time.
Mark Fisher, Weekly Worker, 21.10.99

Volume 4, Issue 3, Oct/Nov '99

Well given Red Action's distaste for theory it is not surprising that you should equate 'unconditional support' with tailing the political lead of revolutionary nationalism (or even not-so revolutionary nationalism!). Red Action do not have a political analysis of Ireland, or the world in general (hence your complete lack of activity over the latest imperialist outrage in Yugoslavia). You buy hook line and sinker the political line of the Adams/McGuinness Sinn Fein strategy - that is not socialism, it is not Marxism. You are more anarchist than Marxist.
SWP outburst following a challenge to it's interpretation of "unconditional support" during debate on Celtic-Ireland internet site, 21.7. 99

"the dodgiest analysis of the 'troubles' this side of Class War or Red Action."
Letter, Direct Action, issue No11, Summer 99

The SWP is not a predominately middle class organisation... Unless of course you are going to argue that teachers, nurses, social workers, civil servants, retail workers, bank clerks and students are all middle class.
SWP in defensive mode, Celtic-Ireland website, 21.7.99

"For me what was extremely worrying even frightening was that the percentage of votes for the fascist British National Party, the BNP, was up from 1997. In Scotland, the North East and London, Socialist Labour did come out ahead of the BNP, but if anything should inspire campaigning for Socialist policies, it's the need to fight the evil of fascism."
Arthur Scargill, SLP General Secretary, responding to the loss of seven out of ten head to head Euro election contests with the BNP.
Socialist News, August/September 99.

The energy once spent in making society fairer is now spent on articulating sectional interests. The new line seems to be: since we can't do much with the basics of economy and society, let us focus on politics. So the agenda pushes legal equality for women and the removal of inequality based on race - though here things get more complicated because equality arguments have to encompass the celebration of "differences, and even professors of gender studies tend to draw the line at extolling ethnic difference when it takes the form of clitoridectomy.
David Walker, The Guardian, 3.9.99

Volume 4, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '99

It was bad enough when Sean Crowe clinched the first seat by topping the poll but when Mr Daly also emerged victorious, it was simply too much for disgusted of Donnybrook. As his delighted supporters held aloft Mr Daly, the man 's whole body shook and he rasped: "That's it. That 's the start of it. They 've got their foot in the door now." He may well be right.
Middle class reaction to significant SF gains in recent local elections. Irish News 17.6.99

AFA was bruisingly effective in winning the battle for the streets with the fascists. By 1994 or so, the British National Party had had more than enough, and was forced to devise a new strategy, encapsulated in the slogan 'no more marches, meetings or punch-ups '. Essentially, the BNP has consciously avoided the damaging physical confrontations with AFA that were regularly culling it's cadre. Instead, it has shifted towards an electoral model, attempting to replicate the winning ways of it 's supposed European counterparts.
Weekly Worker 1.6.99

According to the government sponsored Runymeade Trust, race attacks are running at around 290,000 annually. Many, as much as half, are committed by children under 16. Evidence suggests that despite good intentions, equal opportunities practice in many cases contributes to a deepening racist climate. Already Britain sustains a race attack level on par with Germany, where last year the Far Right entered regional government. So we accept the political risks of addressing the issue now, or risk the Far Right capitalising at their leisure later.'
London Anti-Fascist Action press officer, listings magazine Time Out 6.7.99

If you are rich, fashionable and young then using cocaine is cool and acceptable. Heroin isn 't yet, but things are creeping that way... Everyone is happy. Everyone, that is, except the families and victims of the young users among what used to be called the working class. For, like so much else in Britain, this is still a class matter.
Andrew Marr, Observer, 30.5.99

A comrade said that a credible alternative was urgent, for there is the very real danger that the socialist Left and the working class as any sort of organised force could be thrown back to levels existing in the United States.
London Socialist Alliance, Weekly Worker, 17.6.99