Jeremy Corbyn supporting union boss behind Christmas rail strikes is filmed calling Jewish activist a ‘Nazi’ in rant about Israel
- Steve Hedley faces calls to resign from his £105,000-a-year role after outburst
- The remarks were made by Mr Hedley at a pro-Palestinian meeting in 2011
- He directed his comments at British-born defender of Israel Richard Millett
The militant leader of the rail union threatening to inflict strike misery at Christmas is accused of ‘spewing out racist poison’ in an ‘antisemitic’ tirade against a Jewish activist.
Steve Hedley is facing calls to resign from his £105,000- a-year role as Senior Assistant General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) over the outburst at a pro-Palestinian meeting.
Video footage shows the militant Jeremy Corbyn supporter shouting at a defender of Israel, Richard Millett: ‘You’re an absolute disgrace to the Jewish people. You are a modern-day fascist, you are a modern-day Nazi, by supporting those policies that oppress a… minority in your own state.’
He adds: ‘What the Nazis did to you, you’re doing to the Palestinians.’ Mr Millett responds ‘Feel better?’, to which the union leader says: ‘Better than you, obviously. But then again, you’re one of the chosen people, so you might feel better than me, huh?’
Mr Millett says: ‘So it’s about being Jewish?’
Mr Hedley replies: ‘It’s about being a Zionist.’
British-born Mr Millett came to prominence after being told by Mr Corbyn that he lacked ‘English irony’, prompting accusations that the Labour leader is antisemitic.
The remarks by Mr Hedley were made at a talk entitled Palestine’s Fight For Freedom at the School of African and Oriental Studies in 2011. Mr Millett, 51, told The Mail on Sunday last night that he found the ‘chosen people’ remark particularly offensive.
He said: ‘The “chosen people” is a reference to the Bible, it’s not about Israel but Jews in general. It’s about the Jews being given a purpose by God to go out into the world and do good things. It has nothing to do with being a better person.
‘But it’s been reinvented as a derogatory term which basically means, “You think you’re better than me because you’re Jewish.”‘
Steve Hedley (pictured) is facing calls to resign from his £105,000- a-year role after outburst that occurred at a pro-Palestinian meeting in 2011
Mr Millett added: ‘I don’t see how someone who makes such obviously antisemitic remarks can hold such a senior role at a union. He should resign from his position.
‘It’s a kick in the gut every time I hear him interviewed on the radio or see him on TV talking about the strikes.
‘But I feel these people have been emboldened to say what they really think and can get away with it now that Corbyn is Labour leader. And if he becomes Prime Minister, nothing is going to stop them.’
In a post on the RMT London website, Mr Hedley admitted using the ‘chosen people’ slur, adding: ‘I was abused as a Nazi and a fascist by someone now known to me as Richard Millett. I found this very upsetting as I have a long history of anti-fascist activity dating back some quarter of a century.
‘The phrase “chosen people” refers to the Jewish people, comes from the Torah and is repeated in the Bible.
‘However, I accept that my use of the phrase in the context of the highly inflammatory argument with aggressive and disruptive intruders trying to wreck a public meeting and provoke a reaction, was unwise and I regret using the phrase.
‘I apologise to anyone who may have been offended.’
Last night, Mr Hedley said: ‘Millett called me a Nazi twice to provoke me and then gave a completely edited version of events. I am a lifelong anti-fascist who is critical of the Israeli government and the far-Right EDL who fly Israeli flags at their demonstrations.
‘I am a proud Irish republican who wants a united Ireland and I am a socialist.’
In 2016, Mr Hedley faced criticism after saying: ‘I think all the Tories are an absolute disgrace. They should be taken out and shot.’
Ian Austin – the former Labour MP who stood down last week and urged voters not to support Mr Corbyn – said: ‘Here we go again. Yet another of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest associates spewing out racist poison.
‘This is antisemitism, pure and simple.’
Mr Austin, chairman of the MainstreamUK.org campaign against extremism, added: ‘Corbyn must condemn these disgusting comments, the Labour Party must boot [Mr Hedley] out and the RMT should sack him.’