Former MP John Woodcock, now known as Lord Walney, who left Labour just before an internal investigation was due to start into an accusation against him of sexual harassment, who refused to call a by-election despite no longer being a Labour MP and who was handed a peerage by the Tories after losing his parliamentary seat in 2019 general election, accepted a government role of “independent adviser on political violence and disruption” that will, according to Tory job specification, “guard against those who may seek to use this period of disruption [Covid pandemic and Brexit] to twist legitimate protest and debate into illegitimate disruption to people’s lives.”
Lucy Fisher in the Telegraph described Woodcock’s role more accurately: “Attempts by far-left activists to ‘hijack’ movements including Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion are being investigated in a review ordered by Boris Johnson,” as did Woodcock in his interview with the paper wherein he asserted with clarity that his targets are socialists.
“[I will investigate] the way anti-democracy, anti-capitalist far left fringe groups in Britain, like the Socialist Workers Party, tend to have much more success hijacking important causes and mainstream cultural activity than the far right, and the harm that may do.” – Woodcock quoted in Telegraph
Woodcock’s well-paid opposition to socialism defines his political career completely and, by necessity, his presentation is always deceptive, misdirectional, hypocritical and absurd. His words quoted above included many purposeful misrepresentations. He also revealed authoritarian intent of the government and its admittance of who it thinks is its enemy.
When an anti-racist or a climate change activist becomes aware that racism or accelerated climate change respectively is a consequence of exploitative capitalism then the latter’s beneficiaries and enablers become filled with fear. Woodcock chose to insult the intelligence of Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion supporters by claiming any understanding they have of underlying political issues is due to outside influences from “hijackers.” The “entryism” argument is standard criticism that right-wing and centrist political activists use as a tool to attempt to divide and disarm any political opposition.
Woodcock admitted his political bias by highlighting the “anti-capitalist” stance of left-wing activists.
Comically, he also highlighted alleged “anti-democracy” characteristic of socialism. Socialism is, of course, infinitely more democratic than capitalism. The screaming hypocrisy of Woodcock is brazen: He is an unelected peer, and after leaving Labour he remained an MP, as an opponent of Labour, thus defrauding his constituents of representation. Woodcock’s contempt for democracy sits alongside his full support for the government of Saudi Arabia including its carpet bombing of Yemeni civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Woodcock wants “important causes and mainstream cultural activity” to be apolitical. He demands that protest is ineffective and isolated from the causes of the problem.
“We must be vigilant against a similar blind spot in Britain to the prospect of progressive extremism – that is, unacceptable disruption or even violence carried out in the name of progressive causes to which the political establishment and large majority of the population have great sympathy, like climate change and racial injustice. There is clearly a potential for groups to develop into increasingly problematic areas.” Woodcock quoted in Mail
Both Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion are successful. Woodcock used the word “mainstream” to describe them and he is right, and it is precisely the volume of their success that frightens the employers of the Tories. His new role is part of the process of trying to limit that success.
Conflation of far-right and far-left activism and hugely disproportionate emphasis on worries about the latter continue to be popular tactics used by Tories and their gofers like Woodcock. Commission For Countering Extremism was instructed by the Tories to produce a report on violent extremist tactics and the ideology of the far-left with a remit to reveal increasing far-left extremism but concluded, unsurprisingly, that it doesn’t exist. Woodcock is a grifting unprincipled opportunist with a disdain for democracy.