Monday 23 July 2018

Great weekend for anti fascists as far right pro Tommy Robinson demos flop

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Image may contain: 6 people, people standing, outdoor and text

Image may contain: 10 people, including Phil Rowan and Steve Hedley, people smiling, people on stage, people standing and outdoor

Saturday was a great day for anti-fascists as far right Tommy Robinson supporters flopped in three separate cities. A thousand people came out in Cambridge, up to 500 in Worcester and nearly 300 in Glasgow to drive back the far right supporters of jailed ex English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson.


Robinson’s supporters turned out in feeble numbers with just 60 on a Scottish Defence League protest in Glasgow, 30 English Defence League members in Worcester and just 30 backing him in Cambridge.

Saturday’s  wave of counter demos follows the horrendous assault on members of the RMT rail union following a 3000 strong Stand Up To Racism demo Against Robinson’s supporters last Saturday, 14 July in London.

The ‘free Robinson’ campaign has ignited violent racist street demonstrations in London and Leeds. It has received support from the far right across Europe and the US with Trump’s ex Chief of staff, Steve Bannon, adding his support to the campaign.  Bannon said at the weekend he was forming an ‘international’ for the far right, based in Belgium. In a calculated coded message to extreme right wing forces, Bannon said he wanted to counter George Soros’ influence.


Here’s what Cambridge UAF members say about Saturday.

‘The unity protest, organised by Cambridge Stand Up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism, was supported by a host of Trade Unions, political parties, community organisations, musicians and individuals.

Before marching, the anti racists gathered to hear some talented local performers (organised by Cambridge Love Music Hate Racism) and a wide range of speakers. These included MEP Alex Mayer, leader of the City Council Lewis Herbert, Richard Alday from Unite the Union’s National Executive, the Green Party’s Mark Slade, Louis Regan (Past President, National Education Union), Anne Galpin from the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee and Waseem Yaqoob (University Colleges Union).

Stewarding for the demo was organised via Stand Up To Racism/UAF with the help of the FBU, RMT, Unite and UCI unions.  Fascist thugs did not attempt to attack the demo.

The far right figure, Luke Alexander, who had called the pro Robinson demo, whinged afterwards about the poor turnout. He had foolishly thought that Millwall fans who were in town for a friendly away game, might boost numbers. He was wrong and to send a message out to such as Alexander, Millwall players wore Show Racism the Red Card shirts in the pre match warm up!

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner reiterated his belief that “There is no place in Cambridge’s proudly diverse, multi-cultural and multi faith community for the sort of racism espoused by Robinson and many of his supporters” and said he was proud to stand alongside Mohammed Mahmood from Mill Road mosque, whose speech was greeted with huge applause.

Daniel said today, ‘Well done for organising the event on Saturday. A great deal of effort and work put into it and it was a great reflection of what this city believes in’.

Steve Hedleysenior assistant general secretary of the RMT, who was viciously attacked after the pro Robinson march last week, explained why he was determined to continue to protest. “We refuse to be victims… they want to control the streets, intimidate people to not come out and oppose them. But we are RMT, FBU, construction workers… and we will oppose them in numbers!”

Ricardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Eastern Regional Secretary and Denise Christie, Scottish Secretary of the FBU, were both given rapturous receptions. Ricardo said “Firefighters are here today, and we don’t scare easily. If we aren’t scared of burning buildings, we are not going to be scared of a nasty little group of bullies. I am full of hope looking round this crowd. We defeat them when we are united and strong”

Tom Holliday of the Fast Food Rights Campaign and himself a McStriker, explained how racism can be used to divide and weaken people. “In the Fast food Rights and McStrike campaigns, we organise as migrant workers, as black and white, as every creed or colour… and we have to oppose racist division”.

At one point Tommy Robinson supporters, numbering less than 40, tried to disrupt our rally but they were quickly seen off. One of them was then arrested following an attack on a police officer. There then followed a triumphant, noisy, joyful anti racist march around Cambridge, ending with a celebratory post demonstration up multi cultural Mill Road, where the mosque is.

Before anti racists dispersed, Michael Bradley of Stand Up to Racism stressed that it is vital that we continue to mobilise anti racists in every community and every workplace, so that anywhere the racists try to sow seeds of division and hate, they are opposed. 

Paul Sillett of Unite Against Fascism reminded us that ‘while the fascists had certainly had a bad day today, the fight against them is far from won. We will have to continue to be active and alert to the threat the revival of Fascism poses across Britain, Europe and beyond. When Robinson is released from prison the far right will regroup, we have to use what happened today and in Manchester and London recently, to show how the far right can be combated ‘.

Not to be outdone, here’s a briefing from Scottish UAF members,

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‘Hundreds of anti-racists and anti-fascists in Glasgow opposed and outnumbered the fascist SDL 8 to 1 today. Lots of trade union banners and flags on display today from RMT and Unite Union and Celtic fnas. 58 nazis were surrounded and shouted-down for half an hour and then left.

Well done to all who attended and supported the counter demonstration called by UAF Scotland’.





Meanwhile, in Worcester, a brilliant crowd, above, of over 400 locals ensured the remains of the EDL (very little) were suitably humbled. Worcester TUC  and a local activist did a brilliant job in holding a demonstration which captured the imagination of many who oppose all the EDL stand for.



True to form, the fascists attempted to attack muslim youths as soon as the EDL arrived. The fascists regretted this and the growing number of anti fascists drowned out the now nervous EDL  Trades unionists, Labour and Green members joined with those of faith to ensure the EDL attempt to inflame islamophobia around the issue of a proposed mosque, went nowhere.



The EDL looked like what they are, a pathetic, albeit viciously racist rump. This was a national demonstration for them and marks yet another low point from the group which Robinson once led.



The morale of all three anti fascist mobilisations follows the successful,  London, Stand Up To Racism/UAF demonstration,

Robinson’ supporters will look to pull together their forces and will no doubt see larger numbers out on the streets, when Robinson is at liberty. There is also of course, serious money and resources available for Robinson’s allies from far right U S sources, as has been reported recently.




Anti fascists will take heart from the wider forces that are coming together. UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett said that anti-racists outnumbering the fascists “shows we can drive this new racist street movement back’.


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