By AWL Students
At a student anti-cuts meeting at Sheffield University on 26 October, a speaker from “Student Broad Left” (student wing of the Socialist Action group) accused Workers’ Liberty of being a front for the far-right, violently racist English Defence League.
In his speech, the Socialist Action speaker, Al Hussein, had commented on the importance of opposing police repression. Anyone who follows the antics of his organisation will know how ironic and hypocritical this is, since SBL/SA student leader and NUS executive member Aaron Kiely has recently caused a scandal in the movement by his support for police repression over the riots and his voting for cuts as a councillor (see here and here). When Chris Marks of Sheffield AWL pointed this contradiction out (hardly a sectarian intervention in the circumstances!), Hussein, in his summing-up, made a number of outrageous comments about our organisation and about the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, culminating in the claim that the AWL is “an EDL front”.
In other words, he accused us of being fascists, or close to fascists. This hardly needs refuting, but see some of our articles about fighting the EDL below.
So why would Hussein say something like this? The underlying issue is the Aaron Kiely scandal. “Student Broad Left” still refuses to comment on any of it – including Kiely himself, when asked directly at the “Progressive Students conference” on 22 October. They obviously feel under pressure, since they know that either way Kiely will be in trouble (admit his comments about the police and he will be a pariah on the student left to an even greater degree than he already is; deny them and his Labour Party career will be in jeopardy). They are trying to fight their way out of the situation in their typical Stalinist fashion, with increasingly bizarre and desperate attacks on those criticising them.
All this is becoming very unpleasant. An increasing number of student activists of all political stripes are appalled by Kiely and SBL’s behaviour, but we understand that some may be tempted to think “this is just sectarianism: a plague on both your houses”. In fact there are basic issues of political health and accountability here. We cannot build a strong, healthy student left if people are allowed to get away with supporting police repression and cuts and covering it up by accusing their critics of being fascists!
Therefore we ask “Student Broad Left”:
1. Do you accept that Al Hussein accused us of being an “EDL front”? Do you think this is true? If not, will you issue an apology?
2. More importantly: did Aaron Kiely make the comments about the police attributed to him, but which he has never refuted? And as a councillor, has he voted / will he vote for cuts to jobs and services?
Some AWL articles on the English Defence League (more here)