I can still recall how shocked I was as details began to emerge of the brazen attack by a UK contingent of the far right, so-called “yellow vest” movement on an RMT picket in Manchester in January 2019.
I was shocked, but I was not surprised.
A core component of far-right ideology has always been an opposition to the aims, values and democracy promoted by organised workers in the trade union movement. For several years now, far-right messaging has spread further out of its dark corners of the internet to be repeated, irresponsibly, by politicians and people within the media. And so it was perhaps only a matter of time before far right activists in this country went one step further and attacked organised trade unionists.
We say it time and time again: the far right are the enemy of working people. Their racism, misogyny and hatred only serve to divide – pitting worker against worker – leaving them weaker and at the mercy of unscrupulous employers everywhere.
Though their attempts at provocation ultimately proved to be an humiliating and pathetic debacle for the aggressors, and though the threat, such as it was, from the “yellow vests” has rapidly dissolved, the lessons from such a move should not go unheeded. The organised far right may have crumbled completely, but their talking points are more mainstream now than at any time I can remember in my lifetime.
These are dangerous times for all of us who stand against the far right in whatever form they might appear. However, I take hope in knowing that the trade union movement has stood alongside us from the beginning, and that, together, our combined strength and determination will enable us to continue pushing our enemies back into the shadows.
And so, as part of our fight against the far right, I am pleased to say that we are remodelling and relaunching our relationship with our trade union supporters to form the ‘HOPE not hate Trade Union Network (HNHTUN)’, so that we can provide our friends in the movement with important tools and information for the struggle, and so that, in the process, we can continue the work that we do to understand, undermine and destabilise the far right.