“This is a tax demo, why don’t you go back to your rape demo”

The Bedroom Tax demonstrations across the UK yesterday were great, and you can see some footage of the Glasgow demo here. More reports on the Bedroom Tax will be heading your way soon from A Thousand Flowers.

But something happened at the Glasgow Anti Bedroom Tax demo yesterday, and it needs to be talked about. It happened because a rape apologist was invited to speak on the platform. Dave Sherry was invited to speak in his capacity as UNITE Scottish Federation of Housing Associations branch secretary, but one of his other roles is as a member of the Disputes Committee of the SWP which it has emerged has delivered a “not proved” verdict in the case of senior party member Martin Smith raping a teenage member of the party. It has also taken it upon itself to “rule” on several other rape cases. That Disputes Committee, and all in the SWP who have lined up to support it and silence internal dissent against its decision to even entertain holding its own rape trial, let alone come to the decision that they “didn’t think that Comrade Delta [Martin Smith] raped W” (Candy U, Disputes Committee member, from leaked transcript of an SWP conference), is a Committee of rape apologists. The ins and outs of that case and the other rape cases the SWP Disputes Committee have felt it appropriate to try to cover up, and the droves of activists who have left the SWP as a result, have been discussed extensively elsewhere. (There is a round up of almost every article written about the current SWP crisis here if you’re so inclined)

When Dave Sherry took to the megaphone to speak to the crowd, a group of activists (from a variety of backgrounds and affiliations, or none) booed him. We shouted “rape apologist”, because that’s what he is. We disrupted his speech because he does not have a right to speak for any progressive movement. His uninterrupted presence would have been an indication that we condone the things he has done, and we don’t, and we shouldn’t. We started when he spoke and we finished when he finished.

Here’s a short video of some of what happened next:

Abusive behaviour came from stewards on the demo (mostly SWP members. Keir McKechnie and Graham Campbell – though it’s always anyone’s guess what his current affiliations are – are easily identifiable in the video and photographs. If anyone knows who the steward with curly black hair and the steward with a grey ponytail are let us know because they were the worst for it) and some bystanders (mostly Solidarity members – if you don’t know anything about Solidarity, it was Tommy Sheridan’s breakaway group from the Scottish Socialist Party following his high profile defamation case against the News of the World and you can read the full story of the misogynistic aspects to that here)

They were shouting at us to shut the fuck up, to leave the Bedroom Tax demo and “go back to our rape demo”, telling us we would be arrested for telling the truth about Dave Sherry’s involvement in a rape conspiracy. We were called “middle class” for you know, thinking rape is a problem that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. Josh Brown (Glasgow SWP Organiser) was repeatedly giving us the fingers from the middle of the speakers platform – while Sherry spoke next to him, while wearing a stewards’s bib, and while most of the crowd probably had no idea what was going on – but they say we were the ones making a mockery of the demo?? Funny that.

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The police were entirely absent from the whole affair but the stewards decided to appoint themselves law enforcement positions and start physically trying to throw us off the demo. They effectively kettled us, and we were shoved together very tightly, it was the sort of behaviour you would expect from Strathclyde police, not other lefties. Male stewards started to grab young women and tried to forcefully shove us out of the crowd, they were going for some people repeatedly. We told them to stop touching us, and eventually they had to give up on trying to physically remove us like some kind of Keep Rape A Secret private security service. There was a clear gender divide in how they treated us – anyone that they read as a woman was put in a situation of clear danger, with people screaming and touching them. Male activists involved report having “keep your women in check” chat directed at them, but the worst of the grabbing and threats was reserved for female activists. Racist comments were directed at one activist for “not even sounding Scottish”.

One unknown young female steward was very keen to let every female Sherry protestor know that she wanted to hurt them, threatening various women with ripping their throats out/kicking their cunts in/stabbing them. I very much doubt she was SWP and to be honest it was more upsetting to see older people who should have been diffusing that situation for both her own safety and ours actually egging her on – it seemed to be a pretty clear example of them using a working class woman as their disposable attack dog while they stood comfortably behind her. For all anyone knew she could have personal reasons why her immediate response to feeling under attack was to threaten violence, and the stewards and bystanders who definitely knew exactly what we were protesting against had a duty not to allow the situation to escalate to threats of violence (but you know when the stewards actually are being violent and throwing you about who the fuck can you trust?)

Lol

Lol

One Solidarity activist, Joyce Drummond, was telling the woman making the threats that it was good on her and pointing out to her ex-SSP members she saw in the crowd as “grasses”. Drummond was formerly best known for being Tommy Sheridan’s most virulent supporter, and for being caught out in Sheridan’s perjury trial as one of the group behind a motion calling for the minutes of a Scottish Socialist Party meeting (where Sheridan admitted that he had done the things which he later denied in court) to be “destroyed” – but now she’s best known to those who have seen the above video as “that awful woman”.

I can absolutely guarantee you that had police officers been present anywhere in that crowd, they would have been demanding our arrest, and detailing a list of our supposed crimes – all the while screaming about “SSP grasses” and “ISG fuckin misfits” (they have a very one-dimensional view of feminism so have to assume that their only opposition is from the groups who they’ve chosen as their sworn enemies, when in actual fact EVERYONE with any political awareness hates them). Which is pretty ridiculous given their supposed opposition to the “bourgeois” legal system. “Assist women to take rape cases to the police? Nah we’ll deal with it ourselves and call the women liars. Think it’s wrong for Tommy Sheridan to take a false case to court based on cross-examining women he’s slept with and calling them liars? Nah, support him to the hilt, it’s not lying if you lie in a bourgeois court. Anti-rape campaigners heckling a rape apologist? ARREST THEM!”

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Let’s be clear: Dave Sherry wasn’t even heckled just because he was a MEMBER of the SWP. Sure, it’s desperately clear by now that all with an ounce of integrity within the SWP have now resigned their membership – and it’s reasonable to direct ire at those who have quite deliberately chosen to stay in an organisation that condones the cover up of rapes within its ranks. But there was another SWP speaker on the bill at this rally (speaking as an ‘anti Trident campaigner’) who no one heckled or made any attempt to disrupt. Dave Sherry alone was heckled because he is DIRECTLY culpable for the cover up of these rapes and the ensuing vilification of the women who had been harmed.

We really need to think of yesterday’s excellent Anti Bedroom Tax demo and what happened within the five or so minutes of Dave Sherry’s speech as separate issues, because they are – although unfortunately the involvement of the SWP in any issue now means that the SWP problem will have to be dealt with at every turn. It’s sad for the genuine, non-front, people’s movements that the SWP latch on to that they will have to deal with the structural problems of misogyny in a cult they have nothing to do with, but if we don’t deal with it they will bring us all down, and we will not be safe in our own spaces. And in Glasgow, we have the additional problem that the SWP have political allies who are prepared to not only back them up but get aggressive with us if we are critical of SWP members like Dave Sherry.

Revealed: what feminazi woofters MAY have looked like

The fact of the matter is, the SWP, the CWI (another small sect) and Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity all HATE each other (see the ‘Axis of Ugly’ section of this article). But the SWP and Solidarity are brought back together time and time again for two reasons. The first is that they each fulfil a need the other has – the SWP dedicate themselves to building fronts and meetings, Tommy Sheridan brings the punters in with his rhetoric, the SWP get to farm new recruits and Sheridan gains publicity and profile. The second is that they are dedicated misogynists who back each other up to promote the idea that sexism is a natural and acceptable aspect of the left and that all who criticise them are middle class feminazi woofters. Solidarity members have nothing to do with the inner workings of the Socialist Workers Party, and there is no legitimate reason for them not to join with the majority on the left and condemn the SWP’s attempted cover up of rapes within its ranks. But it suits them to join in the silencing of women speaking out against the actions of Sherry and co because it furthers their worn out lines about women’s safety being a middle class diversion from the “real struggle” and also they can’t afford not to back up their own decisions to silence anyone who dared to question their own infallible misogynist hero, Tommy Sheridan.

Of course it’s not just Sheridan who Solidarity have a history of defending, nor does the buck stop at plain old rape apologists like Dave Sherry. In the past, Solidarity members helped organise a campaign to defend convicted rapist, Chris Wiles. The thankfully now defunct Democratic Green Socialist website became a platform for their horrendous outbursts. The initial piece in which they called a teenage rape victim a drunken liar with a STI and asserted that the Scottish justice system is so desperate to convict rapists they just send anyone down has thankfully now dissapeared – though an archived version is still available here (massive trigger warning). Rape Crisis Scotland (who refuse to comment on individual cases) were so disgusted that they commented on the campaign, if not the case itself. Solidarity members responded by organising a birthday party for their rapist friend. Steve Arnott, a Solidarity member who can currently be found leaving daft comments on the above youtube video of yesterday’s events, might want to learn when to pipe down given the Democratic Green Socialist website was run by him.

Rape apologists in our movements need to know that everywhere they go in political life this will happen to them. A loud roar should follow Dave Sherry, and the rest of his rape enabling cronies, until they can no longer functionally hold positions in any movement. As long as they are allowed to continue as normal, movements they are involved in are not safe for women. When you make or laugh at a rape joke, you are enabling rapists to continue by sending the message that what they do to people won’t be taken seriously. The same applies to allowing those who attempt rape cover-ups to exist unchallenged within our movements. What happened at the hands of SWP and Solidarity members yesterday was at the extreme end of complicity in allowing rapes to occur. But there are many steps on that ladder and those who attempt to downplay what happens to women in all of society but on the left in particular, those who attempt to silence those who speak out about it, are every bit as complicit as those who assault anti-rape campaigners, or sit on rape-excusing Disputes Committees.

Dave Sherry should never have been asked to speak at such an event, which is far too important to be used as a vehicle to re-establish the credibility of deeply uncredible and frankly dangerous people and organisations. We need to keep this up, and provide no platform to the SWP (but in particular actual Disputes Committee members such as Sherry). It’s appalling to see supposed “socialists” assaulting and screaming at young women speaking out against a rape cover-up, but in a way at least they are ready and willing to show their true colours – it should become clear to all who needs to be avoided for the safety of activists and the health of our movements.

The silver lining to the appalling behaviour exhibited by defenders of Sherry yesterday was an incredibly funny comment spat at one of our number by a couple of Sheridanistas, but which is better directed towards Sherry and the Sycophants:

“Get it up ye”
“RIGHT up ye”

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17 responses to ““This is a tax demo, why don’t you go back to your rape demo”

  1. Has there been a court case ? This is a serious allegation and it just seems a bit strange that it is being dealt with internally.

  2. Thanks for this, I’d heard it had happened but didn’t know any detail or background. Great article. he SWP bully boys will have to be opposed everywhere, they are as much a problem as the BNP now because they are among us and against us. which makes them a danger to every woman and non-misogynist man

  3. One unknown young female steward was very keen to let every “Sherry protestor know that she wanted to hurt them, threatening various women with ripping their throats out/kicking their cunts in/stabbing them. ” An Ipswich SWPer told a close comrade of mine (Labour Party and UNITE) a couple of weeks ago that he would bite his nose off.

    Clearly this kind of unacceptable behaviour is widespread.

  4. similar events took place in Manchester when we leafleted the crowd about the actions of the SWP. Many don’t know what a shower they are. We heckled Mark Krantz,who signed the petitoon in support of Comrade Delta. One of our number was assaulted and injured by SWP goon. Also we were sworn at and accosted while doing our distro. Fuck the Swp. No platform for rape apologists. Ya Basta.

  5. They are fucking scumbags, but we will win. Glad that so many stood up to rape apologist cunts, we need this strength. Solidarity to all those in Glasgow who recognise that Bedroom tax is a class issue and a fucking women’s issue. xxx

  6. By the way, DOES anyone know who those two guys in the video are? They might not be SWP – majority of stewards were so it’s probably safe to assume but they could be CWI (now calling themselves Socialist Party Scotland, not to be confused with the Scottish Socialist Party the CWI left to join Solidarity… left sects make me snoooooooooze)

    When Solidarity was formed as a split from the SSP it was made up of the SWP, the CWI and Tommy Sheridan loyalists, as far as I’m aware those two groups mainly do their own things now and the Sheridan loyalists haven’t really been seen at all until the last couple of weeks when they’ve shown up in positions of power in this campaign – but clearly the SWP and CWI and Solidarity still function as a bloc in situations like these. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference when you can’t put a name to a face. Generally the keywords “old” and “man” might bring you to the CWI but who knows

  7. Joyce Drummond is a deeply unpleasant individual, both personally and politically (and at the end of the day what’s the difference?). It makes me sick to see her try to insert herself into a position of respect in the anti-Atos movement. She was in the papers a while back as a whistle blower on Atos because she had spent a period of months working for them. Her facebook fan page she set up for herself describes her as “Support Nurse who blows whistle on Atos assessments”.

    Whether you think that as someone who was not forced to work for Atos, who was not forced to be complicit in removing benefits from disabled people for such ‘signs of ability to work’ like turning up for your compulsory assessment or being able to write your own name, and who only seemed to want to be open about the nature of her time working for Atos a couple of years later when anti-Atos campaigning became a thing that newspapers were willing to talk about, is an appropriate champion of disabled people’s rights is up to you.

    Personally I think she can go take a running fuck to herself for trying to make herself a cause celebre when really what she should have done after opening up about the things she did as an Atos nurse is offer a sincere apology and then slink off with her tail between her legs and keep the fuck out of the movements designed to protect the people she’s been complicit in harming.

    I don’t give a shite if it was the only nursing job available to her, no one has the right to stay in a job with Atos once they know what the deal with it is, and it would become apparent immediately. Atos deliberately employ struck off doctors and the like to do their “health assessments”. Because no competent health professional would break their duty of care by actively making the health of disabled people and people with mental health problems worse. I don’t know Drummond’s background in the health profession so don’t know why she took a job at Atos but if it was the only door open to her I STILL DON’T CARE.

    Fuck ATOS and fuck the scum who work for it.

  8. The SWP oppose and undermine direct confrontation with actual fucking Nazis but are happy to immediately jump to roughing up young women talking about rape. Disgusting.

  9. I really that this plea for reason will probably fall on deaf ears, but some actual facts need to be made clear here. Solidarity – at no time – organised any campaign to defend Chris Wiles, nor did they organise a birthday party for him. The campaign was organised by local people (some of whom were themselves rape and sexual assault victims) who believed then (and now) that Chris Wiles did not commit rape and was a victim of a miscarriage of justice. Anne MacLeod and myself were part of that campaign as friends of Chris Wiles and his family, but in a personal capacity. As editor of issue 3 of the now defunct Democratic Green Socialist I agreed to carry an article from Anne about the campaign. The article, I freely admit with greater editorial experience under my belt, contained one or two lines that I should have edited out but the reaction to it was way over the top from some quarters – almost as though on-one, anywhere, ever convicted of rape could ever be a victim of a miscarriage of justice – despite the factual record showing otherwise. When contacted by Rape Crisis Scotland I gave them a full and unedited right of reply. I agree that the SWP should not have conducted an internal investigation and should have gone to the police so a full and proper investigation should have taken place. However, hi-jacking Saturday’s demo to make this point was unnecessary, sectarian and counter-productive. Many people I know share my view about what the SWP did, and disagree with the position they continue to defend over the rape case, but do not believe for a moment that Dave Sherry – though he made a huge error of judgement – is a rape apologist or a rape denier.

    I hope these comments will be taken in the constructive and comradely manner in which they are offered.

    • You are an unbelievable scumbag. That you even think it’s possible for a passed-out drunk teenager to consent to sex with a disgusting old man speaks volumes about you personally.

      Edit: @thevenusenvy – yeah this personal capacity thing is a bizarre point to make too considering he published this in his POLITICAL MAGAZINE, the official output of his platform within Solidarity (which makes it Solidarity output, Steve)

    • TRIGGER WARNING

      The DGS blog reprinted Wiles’ absurd story: he had kindly taken the victim home as she was drunk, and left her to sleep on the couch. Then during the night, he woke from an erotic dream to find her undressed and straddling him.

      She reported finding a semen-like substance in intimate areas when she woke the next day. Steve’s blog printed the theory that this was probably just discharge from the STI she was later found to have.

  10. thanks for being honest and open Steve about what your group did, this will come in handy when we need to have discussions inside RIC about your personal record.

  11. Pingback: When women are not safe to protest….. | THE VENUS ENVY·

  12. Pingback: Another year for the locust: an attempt at a review of 2013 | Cautiously pessimistic·

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