Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12701

Posted on 5 September 2011 at 13:12 GMT

EDL supporters rallying in London, 3.9.11

EDL supporters rallying in London, 3.9.11   (Click to enlarge)

EDL kept out of Tower Hamlets by thousands protesting

Paula Mitchell

The racist and divisive English Defence League (EDL) had wanted to march through the streets of Tower Hamlets in East London on Saturday 3 September to create division and intimidate the local community.

But they were humiliated by the campaign against them. Despite the police ban on their planned march, they were still allowed a static protest. However, they could find no venue in Tower Hamlets that would have them!

Parks and public places were ruled out by the council; they were turned away by several pubs and from the Sainsbury's car park - no business wanted to be the target of a community boycott or of potential attack.

When they planned to "muster" at Liverpool Street station, the RMT in London announced that it would shut the station down on grounds of health and safety and once again the EDL were forced to change their plans.

Nonetheless, despite being thrown into disarray and demoralisation, 1,000 EDL supporters held their rally at Aldgate, just over the Tower Hamlets border in the City of London.

Police surrounding the EDL, London, 3.9.11

Police surrounding the EDL, London, 3.9.11   (Click to enlarge)

Disgracefully, despite the ban, they effectively marched, as they were escorted through the streets to Aldgate by the massed ranks of 3,000 riot police.

They rallied behind four lines of riot police and two lines of police vans that separated them from anti-racist campaigners on Whitechapel Road.

Their rally ended in chaos, with 60 arrests, when tanked-up thugs fought with police and threw racist abuse at local residents.

EDL marching in London, 3.9.11

EDL marching in London, 3.9.11   (Click to enlarge)

Outrageously, the counter-demonstration was also banned by the Home Office, in a sweeping ban on all demonstrations in five boroughs and the City of London for 30 days.

Nonetheless a static protest took place on Whitechapel Road which outnumbered the EDL. Anti-EDL protesters broke the ban on their march by moving down to Aldgate and then marching back up to the starting point.

Many ended their day in jubilation feeling that they had kept the EDL out of Tower Hamlets.

Community mobilisation

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) had a national mobilisation for this demonstration. Of course national demonstrations are an important aspect in any battle.

However, the EDL and BNP will not be defeated simply by a cat and mouse game of national EDL and UAF demonstrations staged in different towns around the country.

The EDL will start to be seriously defeated when local communities, workers and youth themselves organise to drive them out and to defend themselves.

On the anti-EDL demo,  3.9.11, photo TU Senan

On the anti-EDL demo, 3.9.11, photo TU Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Community campaigning did take place in Tower Hamlets. The United East End coalition brought together several different religious bodies, councillors of all parties and different community organisations.

On the day, the East London mosque opened up its facilities to the public and the Islamic Forum of Europe provided 800 stewards to defend the community. The campaign was publicly led by the Independent Mayor, Lutfar Rahman.

Mayor Rahman was expelled from the Labour Party and elected as an independent, saying that he stood in the tradition of Poplar (Poplar councillors were jailed ninety years ago when they stood up for working class people against business interests under the slogan "better to break the law than break the poor") and Cable Street (in 1936 Mosley's British Union of Fascists was driven out by 300,000 workers and local people).

However, Rahman then presented to the council a budget with 75 million cuts over three years. All the parties on the council supported cuts to one degree or another.

These are exactly the conditions which create a breeding ground for organisations like the EDL.

In the campaign against the EDL he concentrated his energies on asking the Tory government to ban its march.

The Socialist Party warned that this could lead to the counter-demonstration also being banned.

Instead, we argued that Rahman and the council should have had a serious strategy of community defence.

They could have organised meetings on all the estates, for residents to elect their own stewards. They could have appointed hundreds of special community safety officers, elected from the estates, to defend people on the day of the march.

The Mayor could have helped communities to organise estate-based contact networks to sound the alarm if any EDL supporters came near, so that residents could defend themselves.

This was the strategy pursued by the Socialist Party (then known as Militant Labour) and Youth Against Racism in Europe in the early 1990s when the British National Party were intimidating local people.

In the absence of any such serious community defence campaign, in the run up to 3 September Socialist Party members held several estate meetings, drawing people out onto their balconies to listen to speeches and discuss how to respond to EDL threats.

EDL demonstration in London, 3.9.11

EDL demonstration in London, 3.9.11   (Click to enlarge)

Fight the cuts

Tower Hamlets is one of the poorest boroughs in the country. Youth unemployment is almost 30%. Tory, Labour and Liberal politicians want ordinary working class people to pay for the economic crisis through massive cuts to public services.

Racist groups like the EDL exploit this crisis for their own ends. The conditions which can lead organisations like the EDL to grow can only be fought through united working class action.

This makes the fight against cuts and for jobs a crucial part of the battle against groups like the EDL.

Trade union leaders have a particular responsibility to act - not just to join in behind religious or community leaders, but to fight on a clear platform of working class unity against the cuts.

"Stand together against cuts and racism!", Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) argued when he addressed the crowd on Saturday. "It won't be the home secretary, it won't be the courts" that stop the EDL, but "it's the ordinary people getting organised".

The FBU leader called on the councillors to fight and resist Tory cuts, instead of preparing the ground for division and poverty.

But unfortunately the emphasis of a whole range of speakers invited to speak by UAF was not to fight together against the existing conditions of working class people in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere, but to present fighting the EDL as a separate, single issue.

So when Mayor Rahman welcomed all protesters at the beginning, speaking of standing "shoulder to shoulder" against the EDL, he and his council - including Labour and Respect councillors - were left unchallenged for accepting and implementing the cuts ordered by the Tory government.

EDL marchers, London 3.9.11

EDL marchers, London 3.9.11   (Click to enlarge)

Not accepting this approach, Vik Chechi, Unison secretary at Queen Mary University (personal capacity) and member of the Socialist Party, speaking towards the end of the rally, stressed the need to stop all cuts and defend the public sector to be able to defeat the racists and build a strong and united answer to all attempts at divide and rule.

Vik called on the people at the anti-EDL protest to come to the lobby of the TUC on Sunday 11 September, called by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) to put pressure on the TUC to coordinate a one-day public sector strike.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 5 September 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

English Defence League:

triangleFar right pose increasing terrorism threat

triangleStand up against abuse - justice not racism

triangleHuddersfield Socialist Party opposes racist EDL

triangleEDL outnumbered and confronted in Worcester

triangleHuddersfield Socialist Party organise counter-protest against EDL

Tower Hamlets:

triangleHugely significant council workers' strike continues

triangleCouncil workers strike back

triangleTower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions

triangleTower Hamlets council strike

EDL:

triangleTommy Robinson BBC demo: socialist fightback needed to undermine far right

triangleEDL sent packing in Worcester

triangleTrade unions mobilise against EDL in Worcester

London:

triangleNorth London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

triangleSocialist Party meetings: Online and in-person

Police:

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Mother

Racist:

triangleTowards an anti-racist school curriculum

UAF:

triangleFar-right given short shrift in Darlington

BNP:

triangle25 years since 50,000 marched against the far-right threat

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

5/8/20

Young Socialists

Young Socialist day of action

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Campaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

5/8/20

Black Lives Matter

North London: Socialist Party speaks at BLM protest

5/8/20

Hull

Engage for Change Hull - trade union youth festival goes online

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Why I joined - Covid changed my outlook

5/8/20

Socialist Party

Socialist Party meetings: Online and in-person

5/8/20

Young Socialists

A-level results day 2020: Fight for our future!

5/8/20

Caerphilly

GE Aviation workers march to save jobs

5/8/20

Trotsky

80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky rally

5/8/20

BAME

Fighting to end racism and capitalism

5/8/20

Doncaster

Doncaster: Vigil for murdered women

5/8/20

The Socialist

The Socialist summer schedule

5/8/20

Unite

Unite union branch pledges to support socialist candidates who oppose cuts

5/8/20

BT

Oppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

5/8/20

Hospital

Sick pay victory at Homerton hospital!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999