Steve Hedley’s antics have been brought to the attention of Harry’s Place readers in the past. So warped are Hedley’s views that he appears to think the Jews sans Frontieres website is ‘Zionist’. Back in 2011 he clashed with Richard Millett at a SOAS BDS event. Following a tirade against Israel, Richard asked Hedley if he ‘felt better’. He got this jeering, racist response:
Better than you, obviously. But then again you’re one of the Chosen People so you might feel better than me, huh?
This wasn’t the worst of it:
It wasn’t long after this that I felt a tug on my shirt collar and heard the words “You’ve got a right hook coming to you” menacingly whispered into my ear.
Today Hedley has been accused of domestic violence by his former partner and fellow RMT activist, Caroline Leneghan. You can read the full details here; they include some all too familiar complaints about the way her allegations were treated by officials in the union. Here are some of the wider conclusions she draws.
I am writing this because I feel it is imperative that all organisations on the left take a look at themselves and question whether they are doing all they can to support their female members and fight sexism and abuse, in all its guises. I believe that we need strong unions and organisations like the RMT to fight all forms of inequality in society. It cannot do this if it allows sexism to go unchallenged and it fails to investigate its elective representatives seriously.
Women do not have equality in the labour movement or the left. This is a struggle and a fight that goes on everyday at work/ in our unions/ at home/ in meetings, etc. To women; we are what militant trade unionists look like. The labour movement continues to heroises a macho, aggressive archetype of what a good trade unionist looks like.
Recently highlighted problems on the left (e.g. the SWP rape case handling) have demonstrated the need for radical change. A support group made up of women from the left and labour movement to support women and challenging abuse and sexism should be set up.
And finally – credit where credit’s due – Comrade Newman offers some quite thoughtful analysis of the situation.
I don’t think it appropriate for us to discuss whether abuse happened or not, but it is reasonable to discuss how institutional biases make victims feel voiceless; and how societal pressure means that popular and successful men are more likely to be believed.