By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2741

Investigation aims to label the left and protest movements ‘extremist’

This article is over 3 years, 4 months old
Issue 2741
It isnt extreme to oppose racism
It isn’t extreme to oppose racism (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

The government has chosen a former Labour MP turned Lord to lead an investigation into “extremism on the far left”.

The independent review will be lead by John Woodcock—who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Walney.

He has attacked Extinction Rebellion, the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

In an interview with the Telegraph newspaper, Woodcock said that Britain must “take notice” of the rise of the far right.

But he also said that the left has been “overstepping the mark into antisocial behaviour”.

He said, “We must be vigilant against a similar blind spot in Britain to the prospect of progressive extremism.

“That is the unacceptable disruption or even violence carried out in the name of progressive causes.”

Woodcock named Extinction Rebellion (XR) as being a group that oversteps this mark into “anti‑social” behaviour.

His comments echo Tory home secretary Priti Patel’s claim that XR is made up of “eco crusaders turned criminals.”

It’s crucial to defend XR from such attacks. It has played a vital role in highlighting the climate crisis and demanding change.


The issue that should be investigated is the lack of action over climate chaos that is destroying the Earth.

Woodcock also argues that BLM activists in Britain have “pushed a very hardline and absolutist view about defunding the police”.

He is deeply concerned with “left entryism” into broader movements, claiming that the SWP “has much more success hijacking important causes and mainstream cultural activity than the far right”.

The real scandal is racism, not the political affiliations of those who resist it.

Woodcock wrongly said that the SWP infiltrated the BLM movement.

The SWP supports BLM protests in the US, Britain and across the world. They are a welcome response to societies saturated with racism. The SWP has not sought to take over the movement.

Woodcock also targeted Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

He said that support from MPs for organisations such as UAF would increase “the risk that a far left minority could mire noble and essential movements for change in unacceptable violent tactic in the future”.

The SWP stands for a workers’ revolution to do away with capitalism, racism, poverty, women’s oppression, climate chaos and war.

This is not hidden—it’s a position that is included in Socialist Worker every week.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance