Around 100 people turned up to support the joint Barnsley Trades Council and UAF demonstration in Barnsley on Saturday 19 February against the fascist British National Party, despite snow and harsh conditions.
But on the day, antifascists found themselves opposing both the BNP and the English Defence League.
Both the BNP – which tries to hide its long history of fascism – and the racist street thugs of the EDL have sought to deny connections between the two organisations, although the EDL’s leader “Tommy Robinson” is a former BNP member and other fascists are central to its organisation.
But the links between the two groups were exposed when members of the EDL’s Yorkshire division turned out to defend the BNP’s stall in Barnsley as local trade unionists and antifascists marched against them.
The BNP is standing in the Barnsley Central byelection on 3 March. Local trade unionists and antifascists organised the march to oppose the BNP after the fascist party’s leader Nick Griffin’s recent visits to the town and the BNP’s attempts to maintain a stall in the town centre. The BNP wants to whip up support for its poinsonous racist and fascist ideas – local people are determined to oppose them.
The trade union and antifascist demo marched through the centre of Barnsley to show their opposition at the site where the BNP hold a stall.
Demonstrators were shocked when 50 EDL members marched up from a pub shouting abusive slogans. For an hour, police kept both groups penned in and refused to allow the trades council march to proceed.
But the antifascist demonstrators inisted they would march and the police eventually led the EDL back to the pub where they had been drinking earlier.
The trade union demonstration then proceeded through the town centre, chanting and outnumbering the fascists on the BNP stall and the EDL bully boys who had come to defend the BNP.
A rally in the centre of town was addressed by a number of speakers including the national president of the UCU and regional speakers from the GMB and FBU unions.
The rally finished with a call to leaflet and campaign against the BNP in the byelection.
>> To get involved in leafleting against the BNP in the byelection, phone 07985 028 003 or email Barnsley UAF