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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 October 2012

Waltham Forest - Racists off our streets!

Build a mass working class fightback

Anti-EDL demonstration in Walthamstow 1 September 2012 , photo Mina Boromand

Anti-EDL demonstration in Walthamstow 1 September 2012 , photo Mina Boromand   (Click to enlarge)

Over 50 'supporters' of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), including many of their leaders, were arrested while on their way to a 'surprise' demonstration at a mosque in east London.

These racists have been banned from the area, meaning that they cannot legally take part in the EDL's 'return to Walthamstow' demonstration planned for 27 October.

A few days earlier Andrew Brons, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Yorkshire and Humberside, resigned from the British National Party (BNP) recently, accusing Nick Griffin, the party's leader and other MEP, of "having destroyed the party".

Brons, who is expected to lead a rival far-right split-off, claims that up to 90% of the party's membership, activists and former officials have already gone.

While these events might appear to suggest the far right is in crisis, a strong and united opposition remains essential.

These groups must not be allowed to spread their racist lies and grow in numbers or confidence. That's why it is correct for anti-fascists to mobilise counter-demonstrations every time they try to march, as is happening in Walthamstow on 27 October.

Where possible, through the mobilisation of big numbers, especially trade unionists and young people, the far right should be physically blocked from marching.

On 1 September, the EDL was stopped from holding a rally in front of Waltham Forest town hall. A thousands-strong counter-demonstration blocked the EDL's original march route with a sit-down protest that was then surrounded by police.

Hearing that the EDL was being escorted by police through back streets to get around the blockade, hundreds of young people, led by Youth Fight for Jobs and the Day-Mer Turkish-Kurdish youth group, broke through police lines to occupy the EDL rallying point.

Opposition needed

Anti-EDL demonstration in Walthamstow 1 September 2012, photo P Mason

Anti-EDL demonstration in Walthamstow 1 September 2012, photo P Mason   (Click to enlarge)

Labour councils and some community leaders often advise local people to stay away from such counter-demos.

But why should racists be able to intimidate local communities? If the far right is not countered, attacks on Muslims, LGBT people, trade unionists and socialists will grow.

This can divide the working class - just when we need to be united to fight the Con-Dems' austerity, often executed by Labour councils.

However, it is not enough just to call all supporters of these groups 'fascist'. Yes, their main base is among racists and football hooligans, but they can attract support from groups of disillusioned and alienated white working class people, angry at service cuts, housing shortages and unemployment. Yes, many are looking for a fight, but also a sense of belonging and empowerment.

The workers' movement and the left must show that we are an effective anti-cuts force. We need to attract young workers and the unemployed into the trade unions and through mass organised militant action, such as a general strike, show how society can really be changed for the benefit of the 99%.

So as well as confronting the far right when they march, anti-fascists must build united campaigns in local communities for jobs, homes and services for all. That means linking the anti-racist campaigns with fighting all cuts.

Protest against the EDL in Walthamstow

11am Saturday 27 October

Walthamstow centre, London E17

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In The Socialist 24 October 2012:


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