When I first saw the Tweet in which Rhea Wolfson claims to have been the victim of anti-Semitic abuse, I didn’t immediately recognise the article about which she was complaining. I had read Grouse Beater’s blog earlier, but had not found anything particularly memorable about the way in which the author uses the example of the Nazis to illustrate the point that trade unions are a target for unscrupulous politicians. As the author observes in the very passage which has so scandalised Wolfson,
A labour union is the chief mechanism by which a democracy guides the distribution of wealth at a local level. It’s function is to organise collective bargaining. Elected governments are meant to do the same job at a national level, but for wider social benefits such as sustaining infrastructure and institutions.
Trade unions are a source of cooperation and community. They exist to achieve wage equality. Their function is to protect workers against economic vicissitude. According to fascist policy – which we see arising everywhere in the UK and abroad – unions must be smashed to render workers isolated, prepared to accept whatever is offered.
This is hardly the “attack” on trade unions that Wolfson claims. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the economic and social value of trade unions and a recognition of their essential role as part of our democracy. It is also what many would consider to be a timely and entirely justified warning about the threat to trade unions – and therefore to democracy – posed by a widespread resurgence of far-right ideologies.
Twitter has been a bad place this past week with trolls trying to deprive 8000 women of taking strike action of agency and we need to address such horrendous sexism in the Scottish ‘left’ but this morning I’ve woken up to an ‘article’ abt the women’s strike that cites Hitler
— Rhea Wolfson (@rheawolfson) October 28, 2018
The article is not an attack on the trade union movement. It is, however, strongly critical of a particular trade union – the GMB. Misrepresenting the piece as an attack on trade unions in general is nothing more than a rather transparent device by which to divert attention from the specific trade union under scrutiny. Just as the attempt to characterise the criticism of Wolfson herself as being concerned with the fact that she happens to be Jewish is intended to distract from scrutiny of her role in orchestrating the ‘equal pay’ strike in Glasgow.
I was totally unaware that Wolfson is Jewish. It seems likely that Grouse Beater was also unacquainted with this detail. I’m fairly sure neither of us affords a person’s religion the overriding significance that Wolfson does. That she is Jewish isn’t even relevant, far less of central significance.
Wolfson also rails against “horrendous sexism in the Scottish ‘left’” and accuses “trolls” of trying to “deprive” the striking women of agency. What she fails to recognise – or hopes others won’t recognise – is that it is perfectly possible for the women to be acting of their own volition and for their own reasons while the likes of Wolfson and the GMB are driven by very different, and far less worthy, motives.
It detracts not one iota from the righteousness of the women’s cause to observe that others are seeking to exploit that cause for base political purposes. Much as Wolfson would like to deflect from the reality with her nonsense about anti-Semitic abuse, that is what Grouse Beater’s article is concerned with. The attempt to use shrill accusations of sectarianism to bludgeon into silence those who speak out against this kind of exploitation is also disturbingly reminiscent of the methods deployed by fascists.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.