SCORES of far-left activists belonging to a group called the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) caused disruption to today’s meeting of Newcastle City Council (4 Sep).
Contrary to popular belief the RCG with its campaigning slogan ‘Fight Racism: Fight Imperialism’ is no anarchist group, but an extremist Marxist-Leninist organisation committed to the overthrow of our liberal-democracy, rule of law and democratic institutions like Parliament and local councils via violent revolution.
In 1974 it split from the Trotskyite UK International Socialists which had its own book shop on Newcastle’s Westgate Road, ‘Days of Hope’ (known locally as ‘’Haze of Dope’’) Today its numbers are small on Tyneside, but it has the capacity to intimidate those who disagree with its fundamentalist hard left dogma and cause trouble too on the streets and in public spaces. Many of its members have established ‘’cells’’ in local FE colleges and universities.
Far from being an anti-racist body the group is anti-Semitic believing in the destruction of the state of Israel. In their book ‘Anti-Semitism and the Left’ Philip Spencer and Bob Fine argue that the RCG is one of a number of Stalinist far-left totalitarian organisations who see Jews as ‘a problem’ and part of a ruling capitalist class. In their literature they constantly refer to the ‘Jewish Question’. The last person to use this term was Adolf Hitler in 1933 Nazi Germany.
So low did its house journal sink, it engaged in the Holocaust denial of the 1990s by claiming that pictures of the Serb concentration camps for Bosnian Muslims were ‘’manufactured’’ by the world’s media spreading false accusations of war crimes against innocent soldiers!
For the RCG racism is a manifestation of capitalism – a gross over-simplification. Yet racial antagonisms are widespread in several world-wide social and economic systems. Had the Communist leader Joe Stalin survived past 1953 Spencer and Fine believe that the Soviet Union would have experienced a second Holocaust!
In its warped critique of western style capitalism and liberal democracy the group has striking parallels with the European Far Right. It lines itself up with the likes of the American President Donald Trump, the French National Front Leader Marie-Le-Pen, the Dutch right wing extremist politician Gert Wilders and the nationalist leader Viktor Orban to praise and celebrate the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The RCG has plenty to say about so-called Western style imperialism but refuses to recognise the extent of Russian imperialism such as the invasion of Afghanistan in 1981 and more recently the occupation of the Ukraine.
Of-course some western democracies are by no means perfect. But let’s not forget that the universal shared values of free speech, freedom of assembly, equality of opportunity respect and mutual tolerance, democracy and the rule of law underpin all of them. The RCG showed clearly in its pre-determined aim to disrupt last month’s city council meeting that it has nothing but contempt for democratic values, principles, processes, elected representatives and institutions.
As the author Nick Cohen notes in his book ‘What’s Left’, “democracy is beleaguered”. Some 3.97 billion people – 53% of the world’s population – are governed by tyrants of both right and left, absolute monarchs, military juntas and theocrats. Our system of democracy may be fracturing.
Post-16 educational providers alongside other public bodies have a moral duty to preserve, uphold and strengthen it.
Stephen Lambert is a Newcastle City Councillor and heads up Education4Democracy CIC