Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1026/28543
From The Socialist newspaper, 23 January 2019
Leeds: don't let the far right divide us
Far-right activists in yellow vests try to intimidate an RMT picket line in Manchester, 5.1.19 (Click to enlarge)
Leeds Socialist Party
About 100 right-wing 'yellow vest' protesters gathered in Leeds city centre, outside the BBC Yorkshire offices, on 19 January. Clad in high-vis jackets, waving England flags and shouting "Leave means leave" (but also with a flag from the fascist British Movement and one person doing a Nazi salute), the group came to stand off against the counter-demo that Leeds Socialist Party had been involved in organising.
Groups, including Leeds Socialist Party, left Labour members and the Anti-Fascist Network, came together to oppose the divisive message of the far-right protest, which sought to pit migrants and refugees against the rest of the population.
This face-off stopped passers-by and disrupted traffic, with many stopping to question what the opposing sides each stood for.
Many onlookers generally supported aspects of the genuine 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) movement in France and shared our anger at the impact of austerity on working-class people. Our leaflets were positively received and were handed out by other groups on the demo to passers-by.
We highlighted how some of those attracted to the far-right demo are as angry as ourselves about cuts to education, health services and public services. But, rather than blaming migrant workers and refugees for the decimation of services, we pointed towards the crisis-ridden capitalist profit-system. A system where the super-rich have inflated their wealth at the expense of working-class living standards.
Most of the counter-protest, including Socialist Party members, had earlier that morning joined the RMT transport union picket lines on Northern Rail - whose members are fighting to retain safety-critical guards on trains.
It is militant action like this which points the way forward to fighting cuts and austerity.
Moreover, as we've seen in Manchester recently, it has been far-right groups who have attacked the RMT guards' picket line, thereby playing into the hands of the bosses.
There is an urgent need to take up the pressing social and economic issues by organising a united struggle of the working class through the trade unions, and offering a real socialist alternative to capitalism. This is necessary to cut across attempts by far-right groups to divide working-class communities.
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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.
- 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.
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In The Socialist 23 January 2019:
What we think
Corbyn: stand firm for a general election
Socialist Party news and analysis
Nationalise big pharma: end this profit-driven NHS crisis
Duke's car crash: one law for them and another for us
Racist jobs discrimination same for 50 years - unions must fight for jobs for all
Wales is Europe's prisoner capital: capitalist cutters' crimes to blame
Them & Us
Cuban revolution at 60: defend the gains and fight for workers' democracy
Workplace news and analysis
Birmingham: hostile Labour council attacks striking workers
Mass strike wins historic step towards victory in Glasgow equal pay battle
John Lewis workers count the cost of the retail crisis
Unison union higher education conference: a missed opportunity to develop a fighting strategy
Bristol Deliveroo workers walk out
PCS union: re-elect Chris Baugh for assistant general secretary
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Enfield North CLP backs no-cuts budget - now councillors must act
We need May Day greetings!
Leeds: don't let the far right divide us
International socialist news and analysis
Europe: school students strike against climate change
Poland: thousands mourn death of murdered mayor
Theatre: Rouse, Ye Women to tell story of 1910 chainmakers' strike
Non-fiction: The Murder of Rosa Luxemburg "reveals the brutal lengths capitalists will go to protect their system"
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