Smash EDO is a grassroots response to the EDO MBM factory in Mouslecoomb's complicity in war crimes - a banner under which people opposed to those crimes can rally. Towards that end Smash EDO is currently organising a Summer of Resistance against EDO MBM.
Over the past few months Brighton and Hove Conservative Party (B&HCP) and, in particular, Robert Nemeth, Deputy Chairman (political) of B&HCP and manager of the office of Mike Weatherley, Tory MP for Hove, have engaged in a smear campaign which has attempted to label our campaign as anti-Semitic.
These allegations, made against an anti-militarist campaign by members of the Conservative Party, a political party with a record of racism stretching across its history, from presiding over some of the bloodiest periods of British colonialism, to Enoch Powell and the Monday Club to Thatcher era use of SUS laws and Operation Swamp to the continuation of the locking up of child immigration detainees and Theresa May's attempts to stop the spouses of migrants gaining British citizenship if they cannot prove their assets. It is a cynical misuse of another culture's oppression aimed at undermining dissent and political opposition.
We, at Smash EDO, take anti-racism seriously and believe that making false accusations such as these for political ends shows a disrespect for the victims of anti-Semitism and a disregard for the continued need to struggle against racism wherever we find it. We have written this article to deconstruct and analyse the Tory smear campaign against us, not as an act of defensiveness, but in order to highlight the complete cynicism of the Tories who have sought to undermine us.
It all began in April 2012 when B&HCP heard of our plans to demonstrate against the threat of war with Iran on June 4th. The Tories misrepresented the demonstration, saying it was against the Queen's Jubilee and proposed a motion at a B&H council meeting condemning the demonstration. The proposer of this motion was a councillor named Tony Janio, who failed to declare that he works for Thales, an arms company which work on the Paveway 4 Missile team with EDO MBM. The Seconder was Graham Cox, ex head of Sussex CID. This motion was followed by a Twitter campaign and quotes in the press further misrepresenting our aims and attempting to obfuscate the demonstrations' real purpose, to criticise current state warmongering, of which the Tory government is a part, which is pushing us closer to an attack on Iran.
On 30th April, the night before Smash EDO's Mayday mass demonstration outside the factory gates, Robert Nemeth posted a claim that he had photographed a Smash EDO banner next to some 'anti-Semitic graffiti' inside a disused building
Smash EDO, although unsure of the truthfulness the allegation, took the position that the campaign should take the allegations seriously and investigate whether any of our supporters had been responsible for the graffiti. The campaign issued this statement:
“Smash EDO has been made aware, this morning, of pictures being circulated by the Brighton and Hove Conservative Party of anti-Semitic graffiti in an evicted squat in Brighton close to a banner supporting our campaign. We are not aware of the provenance of these pictures. However, in light of this the campaign would like to clarify:
- That Smash EDO is an anti-fascist and anti-racist campaign
- That the campaign is aware of the racism endured by people of Jewish origin
- That all racism, including anti-Semitism, will be confronted wherever it arises in our movements
- That racists are not welcome in our campaign”
When we investigated the allegation however we found that there was no substance to it. The building, Park House in Hove, had been squatted in 2010. The squatters told us that when they began living in the building they found that in one of the rooms the word 'Jew' had been written on a door. Underneath, in a different colour paint was a cross. The graffiti was pre-existent to the squatters moving in.
Later that year the same squatters organised a benefit party for Smash EDO at Park House. It took place in a different room from the one containing the graffiti. The banner mentioned by Nemeth was left over from the benefit party.
Robert Nemeth's allegation that the Smash EDO banner was next to the graffiti is false. Nemeth, in attempting to back up this allegation, has provided photos from inside the squat. However the photos simply show the graffiti itself, in one picture, and the banner in another separate picture. There is no evidence that the graffiti was next to the banner.
Having misrepresented these pictures to label the group as anti-Semitic, Nemeth then went on a campaign of smearing Smash EDO at every opportunity during the month of May. Via his twitter account Nemeth tweeted, on 30th April, that the pictures from Park House backed up his opinion that Smash EDO's supporters were “anti-Jew to the extreme”. The following day he claimed, in reply to a member of the Green Party, that “@Smash_EDO followers are often anti-Jew, no doubt about it” and conjectured that Smash EDO's supposed anti-Semitism was linked to “hatred of capitalism, USA,Israel etc”. By the 2nd May Nemeth was claiming Smash EDO had an “anti-Semetic [sic] stance”. By the 27th May he was referring to Smash EDO's “militant anti-Jew stance”. In a related thread on the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism Nemeth made the unsubstantiated claim, which he admitted was a “sweeping generalisation”, that 99.9% of Jews are Zionist. On the 7th June Nemeth dubbed the Summer of Resistance campaign a “Summer of anti-Semitism”. The June issue of Latest Homes magazine, distributed free throughout Brighton, carried a column by Nemeth where he, again, made the untrue allegation that the Smash EDO banner and the graffiti were found together. Smash EDO has written to Latest Homes and the comments about the campaign have been excised and an “unreserved apology” given by the magazine. Mike Weatherley, however, has refused to distance himself from Nemeth's false allegations.
By the 9th June Nemeth's rants had finally conformed to Godwin's Law. This law of the internet states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis or Hitler approaches”. Nemeth, predictably, couldn't resist making such a comparison by calling Smash EDO supporters “skanky masked Greenshirt”[s], when asked to explain what Greenshirt meant he said a violent “ecowarrior” type. One can only assume that by choosing the term 'Greenshirt' Nemeth is attempting to equate Smash EDO and the Green Party and draw a clumsy and misconceived comparison with the Nazi Brownshirts, or possibly Mussolini's Blackshirts.
Part of the motivation behind this Tory smear campaign is that Smash EDO is being used as a political football in the struggle between the Green Party and B&HCP. The Conservatives point to some Green Party members support for Smash EDO as evidence that the Greens are 'too radical'. By attacking Smash EDO Nemeth et al are really attacking the Greens, hence the ludicrous 'Greenshirt' tweet.
But most of all the B&HCP smear campaign is aimed at undermining the Smash EDO campaign. Over the years Smash EDO has been a formidable force in Brighton which has effectively challenged the presence of a major international arms company. As the protectors of the current capitalist status-quo the Conservatives are trying as hard as they can to limit the support for grassroots movements and Robert Nemeth's disingenuous smear campaign shows that they are willing to misuse the language of anti-racism in order to do it.
* an archive of Robert Nemeth's tweets in relation to Smash EDO can be found at http://freespace.virgin.net/xxx.99/NemethTweets.html