Workers’ Liberty has published a dossier which deals with the actions of a poisonous, secretive clique, “Red London”. This briefing is important reading for any labour movement activist concerned to uphold basic, decent norms and comradeship inside the labour movement.
“Red London” is a grouping organised around an anonymous Facebook page, known primarily for deploying unevidenced smears against people it politically opposes, rather than political argument. RL people also organise in the Labour Party, Momentum and in the RMT union. They are sympathetic to the Morning Star and some of them may also be Communist Party of Britain members.
The clique fragmented in late 2018 after some sort of dispute at a south London house party, and the fallout gave information about who is involved. The central person mentioned in that fallout is Sandy Hale (pen name Alexander Norton). He is also on record in a photo of a group giving Red London’s “vigilance salute”, a gesture designed to evoke Stalinists’ brutal “vigilance” against Trotskyists during World War Two.
But the Morning Star, the daily paper which linked to the Communist Party of Britain and yet enjoys wide influence and circulation in the Labour left, still uses him as a journalist. He is on record, on the Twitter page of the Stand Up To Racism campaign, as speaking “from” the Morning Star at a SUTR event in October 2018. If the Morning Star wants to be taken seriously as a journal with the slightest respect for the truth, it cannot have as a journalist someone who has participated in a long record of anonymous and unevidenced smears. The Morning Star should sack Sandy Hale.
I had experience of “Red London” in October 2016 when an elaborately faked Facebook page was set up in my name. “Red London” also used their page to make a disgusting allegation of paedophilia against me. Anonymous and unevidenced, as always with RL. I went to the police who were sympathetic and helpful; they talked to an RMT official, Bill Paterson, about the matter. The allegation against me was quickly removed from the Red London page. But similar smears against others followed. The hate continues. Last week, for example, I got an anonymous letter making repulsive and false allegations about another individual (a member of the AWL). That letter is also now with the police.
The RL group is Stalinist. Some of them wear Stalin badges, or use Stalinist iconography on social media. Broadly they are pro-Putin, pro-Brexit, English-nationalist, workerist, pro-PKK (Kurdish Stalinists); they despise all “liberation politics”, which they regard as middle-class and decadent. Unpleasant though these politics are, people with similar views exist throughout the labour movement. In fact in the Labour Leader’s Office Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray have some similar views.
The need to warn the labour movement about the RL clique has nothing directly to do with their formal political positions. What is alarming about this organisation is its immoral behaviour. The practice of using vile and anonymous slanders against political opponents should be a concern for all those in our movement — from left and right — who are politically honest. “Red London” hates the AWL, but they have also made many other allegations, slanders and smears against other groups and individuals on the left. They hate not only Trotskyists, but also anarchists and those who work in liberation campaigns (which “Red London” believe to be middle-class and decadent).
Bill Paterson is the one person on public record (in 2015) as associated with Red London. In 2016 he told the police he was no longer connected to the Facebook page. We have no evidence to dispute that claim. But we know that Paterson responded on his own Facebook page to the publication of this briefing with a picture of himself giving the cultish “Red London” “vigilance” salute. Paterson should be investigated by the Labour Party and RMT. The Labour Party should not allow membership to those who use Red London-style abuse against political opponents. Labour movement organisations should not employ these people.
I suggest that anyone who has information about this group should publish it, also informing Workers’ Liberty. Anyone who has had links with RL should publicly dissociate themselves.