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Far right not welcome in Brighton
Just days after 700 protested in Bradford, the far-right English Defence League (EDL) marched through Brighton. Bank Holiday Monday saw around 40 EDL marchers opposed by up to 350 people, including a large and well organised contingent of Socialist Party members and supporters.
Brighton Socialist Party
While the police ensured the EDL marched through the city centre - despite our efforts to block them - we marched ahead in a demonstration which dwarfed theirs.
The EDL are a far-right group which expresses a combination of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views.
The drastic cuts in government spending that the Con-Dem government is forcing on ordinary people will cause misery for the working class.
In this situation the far right seeks to scapegoat sections of our society. But the cause of our problems is not immigrants, Islam or trade union resistance to the cuts; it is capitalism.
Socialist Party members were distinguished by our placards calling for 'jobs homes and services, not racism'. This slogan provides a working-class alternative to far-right groups by uniting ordinary people to fight the cuts.
We were very well organised and our stewarding prevented sections of the march from being caught in fights with the police at the front and back of the demonstration.
The demo was called under the banner of the English Nationalist Alliance (ENA) which is a fringe group on the far-right. However the only identifiable group was the EDL, who were openly present. According to the local paper they raised their hands in Nazi salutes, and chanted anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant slogans.
The march was a response to events in April this year, when a group called March for England, a nationalist organisation, marched through Brighton. They have previously done so unopposed but rumours that the EDL would be attending this year led Unite Against Fascism and the Socialist Workers Party to call a counter protest.
The march was not organised around any slogans which attacked sections of the community or even raised political demands; it was advertised as a family day out to celebrate St Georges Day. The Socialist Party pointed out at the time that this would be used as an excuse for the real far-right groups to march in Brighton.
This is what took place on Bank Holiday Monday. The ENA website said "We are heading for Brighton and marching in defence of our right to be English. On the 25th April the March for England families held their St George Parade and were abused by the UAF and left wing students."
Our opposition to the EDL on Monday showed that we will not accept any such marches in the future. It is important that anti-racist campaigns like this act together and not separately and that we debate the character of the event that is taking place to avoid the mistake of providing opportunities for organisations like the EDL to march.
We must stop racist and fascist organisations from marching and dividing working-class people in local areas. But we also have to counter the growing appeal of such ideas, including those of the British National Party (BNP).
As working class people face worse attacks than we did under Thatcher in the 1980s, any serious campaign against racism must also provide an anti-cuts, socialist alternative.