Well done to all who opposed the racists and fascists in London and York on Saturday. The rally in support of Tommy Robinson in York completely flopped, but London was a different story. Up to 15,000 turned out in Whitehall for the far right’s imprisoned poster boy.
Originally published by United Against Fascism.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
The scale of the far right’s turnout and the vile, violent racism informing it must be seen by everyone on the Left as an urgent wake up call.
The hate rally for Robinson ended with hundreds of racists attacking the police in Trafalgar Square. They charged at officers in Whitehall, before staging running battles with the police.
And earlier, hooligans associated with football firms from Millwall and Chelsea tried to attack Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism supporters in Whitehall.
At least two journalists were attacked by Robinson supporters. One was viciously kicked to the ground by a group of fascists.
Backers of Robinson pulled the biggest numbers seen on a far right demo for a number of years. It was larger than the EDL had managed. Openly racist speeches were cheered by often-drunk crowd members.
But this was much more than an EDL ‘mark 2 demo’. Robinson supporters openly did the Nazi salute, for instance. Racism ran through their demonstration, with vicious Islamophobia at its heart.
Far right hipsters from Generation Identity mingled next to old National Front members. Firms from football hooligan groups from Portsmouth to Leeds, including several from the West Midlands, were there in numbers. Ulster loyalists were also present. Tiki torches, associated with the American fascists’ 2017 rally in Charlottesville where antifascist Heather Heyer was killed, were on display.
UKIP flags and For Britain placards were waved as a variety of far right speakers called for Robinson’s release.
Geert Wilders, the notoriously racist Dutch MEP spoke at length. He called Robinson, the ‘bravest man in Britain’ and ranted that ‘we are foreigners in our own lands’.
Steve Bannon, former key aide to Donald Trump, sent a message of support, saying he wished he was present.
This shows how key Robinson is for the international far right. Bannon is engaged in trying to unite various right wing forces in Europe and America. Robinson and the support he has is obviously crucial to those who are building the far right in the UK and beyond. His spell in prison for contempt of court has struck a chord with the disparate elements of the far right and open Nazis. It is an uneasy mix, but a deeply dangerous one.
Ex-UKIP leadership candidate Anne Marie Waters, now leader of the For Britain party, made an extremely inflammatory speech, ranting that we have to do away with the ‘iron grip of Islam’. Waters went onto to argue that ‘the state and Islam are supreme in the UK’. She also claimed that the Grenfell disaster was ‘accidental’.
She made a speech that overtly attacked Islam and which could have come from the likes of the discredited Nazi BNP, who many are now comparing For Britain with.
She claimed that there is an ‘Islamic supremacy’ in the UK. Gerard Batten, the current leader of UKIP, spoke of how ‘this is the start’, before asking people to join UKIP. He clearly senses that the new racist street movement has the potential to bring his wounded party back from the brink.
Ex-EDL deputy and Robinson’s cousin, Kevin Carroll, also spoke. Many in the crowd were ex-EDL members who are now running with the DFLA, a split from the Football Lads Alliance.
Other speakers included Janice Atkinson from UKIP. But it is the international alliance of Wilders, Bannon and Batten which is most significant.
Using extreme Islamophobia, elements of the far right see the jailing of Robinson as the glue to hold the fast-growing street movement together. For now, football firms who are usually at each other’s throats have raised Robinson as a figurehead to unite around. The political vultures of UKIP aim to give political coherence to the street thugs (although they were noticeably absent when the police were attacked). Differences between UKIP and Waters are, for now, on hold.
Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism rallied down from the Robinson rally, towards Parliament Square. There were trade unionists from the RMT, UCU, CWU, UNISON, NEU and elsewhere. Some activists brought Labour Party banners too.
All this is welcome.
However, the disparity in size between antifascist and far right forces now assumes a real urgency.
There were good delegations from the RMT, the CWU and others. These examples of trade union mobilisation must now be built upon.
The rapid growth of the far right on the streets of the UK has been beaten back before. Mass mobilisations are the key.
A number of trades unionists are, as this is being written, discussing the necessity to convince many more of the urgent need to oppose the far right.
Weyman Bennett from #StandUpToRacism (Warning Facebook Link) said: “Robinson is being held up as a martyr but wherever his support grows so does racism, hate and violence. In Leeds where he was arrested first his supporters marched through the city shouting Islamophobic slogans then, a few days later, a mosque and a Sikh temple were hit by arson attacks.
The rally for Robinson is an attempt by the racist right to launch a new, violent, Islamophobic movement, on the model of what we’ve seen in many European countries.”
Michael Bradley from Unite Against Fascism said: “We are sounding the alarm to the trade union and labour movement. These are not cranks who will disappear of their own accord. We need to build a mass movement to drive these people back. Left unopposed their protests will grow and racism and violence will grow with them. They are using the same kind of rhetoric against Muslims as was used by the far right in the 1930’s against the Jews. We have to learn the lessons of history”.
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