Labour supporting trade union chief sparks fury after outrageous racism claim

Paul Fleming

Paul Fleming made the comments at a Labour Party fringe event

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 08/10/2023

- 19:36

Updated: 08/10/2023

- 19:45

Conservative MP Robert Buckland said Labour was full of 'extremists who seek to divide us'

The chief of a high-profile trade union has sparked outrage after suggesting those who fail to stand up for trade unions are comparable to racists.

Paul Fleming, who is the general secretary of actors' union Equity, said that it was wrong to consider attacks on trade unions "as different to attacks on our black comrades".

He made his comments at a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference.

The trade unionist was speaking alongside Labour MP Nadia Whittome and Hope Not Hate's Joe Mulhall on a panel called: "The Far Right and the Conservative Party."

Paul Fleming

The Equity boss said it was wrong to consider attacks on trade unions 'as different to attacks on our black comrades'


Addressing those in attendance, Fleming said: "We cannot look at attacks on trade unions, attacks on trade unionists as different to attacks on our black comrades, on women comrades, on trans comrades, and on other marginalised communities.

"An attack on the workers' movement is fundamentally an attack on the ability of working people to organise themselves against the far right."

Going on to "reflect on how bad it's got" under a Conservative Government, he said: "They have banned noisy protests."

His comment was in reference to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 which includes provisions to stop protesters from prolonged protests which use excessive noise to disrupt Britons' daily lives.

Fleming added: "That is absolutely appalling.

"Again, another space in which workers - across community, across generation, indeed across a lot of political views - come to meet and bond together are now told to literally shut up.

"That is a terrifying extreme."

Angered by Fleming's remarks on racism, Conservative MP Robert Buckland told GB News: "Whatever the Labour leadership try to do, it is clear that extremists who seek to divide us still populate its numbers."

\u200bRobert Buckland

Robert Buckland said Labour was full of 'extremists who seek to divide us'


The party's Andrea Jenkyns added: "Once again this clearly demonstrates that as far as the left are concerned that if you happen to disagree with them or have a different view you are either racist or stupid .

"How intolerant and actually reflecting their own narrow prejudices.

"I am the side of the British people. Not the very narrow interests of the trade union movement."

Meanwhile, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said: "It is unjustified and wrong to equate criticism of trade unions with racism. That is an insult to people who have suffered as a result of racism, discrimination and hatred.

"Mr Fleming does no favours to the trade Union movement when he makes this kind of inflammatory statement.”

GB News has contacted Equity for comment.

Read more from GB News on the latest breaking news, developments, and unrivalled analysis at the Labour Party Conference

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