Tuesday 14 August 2018

Excellent day of solidarity with Bookmarks shop against the far right

Around 500 people crammed into the solidarity event with Bookmarks bookshop, in central London,  last Saturday. The day was in response to the far right attack on the shop, the previous Saturday.


So successful was the day that the nearby Bloomsbury Baptist Church was used to ensure all who wanted to, got to hear the fantastic range of speakers.  For instance, Ruth Levitas read out a message from her uncle Max, who was arrested in 1934 for whitewashing No To Fascism at Trafalgar Square. Max went onto be part of the Battle of Cable Street, where around two hundred thousand Londoners defeated Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.




Dave Gilchrist, manager of Bookmarks, said he was “overwhelmed to see so many people here” and that the “number of messages has been immense. We have to recognise the nature of what happened,” he said. “It wasn’t just an attack on Bookmarks, it was an attack on the whole movement. But whatever the intention of the fascists, we have emerged from it much, much stronger.”




There were many  from the Labour Party, Momentum, trade unions and various campaigns. During the  day people packed into the bookshop. Many also crowded on the street outside where Bookmarks staff had set up a book stall, such was the demand. Anti fascist veterans joined school students and students.




David Rosenberg from the Jewish Socialists’ Group  read a message of solidarity from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—“my MP, an outstanding fighter against all racism”. It said, “Bookshops being attacked shows how frightened they are of ideas of a different society.

“There is only one answer—solidarity”




Andrea Butcher and Sarah Ensor, both ex Bookmarks workers, read out solidarity received from authors, poets and politicians. Anne Mitchel, who stars in BBC soap Eastenders, read Whitechapel Library—Aldgate East, a poem by left wing East End writer, Bernard Kops.



Author Kim Sherwood, whose first recently publish-novel Testament deals with the impact of the Holocaust on three generations of a family, was a moving speaker.Supporters crowd outside the Bookmarks bookshop - with many more inside

Mid way through the day, half a dozen fascists, who are around far right groups like Generation Identity and the so called Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), tried to intimidate those attending.




They were rapidly chased off by activists, including authors who had spoken at the event. These ‘outriders’ for far right thugs, are part of the ‘alt right’ network of internet goons. Via their sordid work and filming of activists, such fascists look to set people up for assault, akin to what the nazi Redwatch site, tried to do in the early 1990s.




Author Louise Raw, who read at the event, said in a memorable turn of phrase, ‘i particularly liked the women who helped remove the fascists, in their summer frocks and flip flops!’.




The DFLA have since gone to issue threats against individuals who attended and spoke at the event. The DFLA once again reveal their true colours, amid rising evidence of the vile islamophobia at the ugly heart of their world view. This, from a group, who still tell the lie that they are against extremism and racism. Anti fascists,  to help counter the DFLA, leafleted a number of football grounds last weekend, when the new season started.




The sheer size and social weight of those on Saturday show the sort of forces that can push the far right back. A whole number of trade unionists and unions are stepping up the fight against the far right, a very welcome move.




Weyman Bennett from UAF called on people to unite against the threat of resurgent forces of the British far right. Tommy Robinson’s supporters had 15,000 on the streets—they are bigger now than before,” he said.




“We built the Anti Nazi League, we built Unite Against Fascism—and we’re building Stand Up To Racism. And we’re going to be putting out a unity statement in the next few days. “It is not automatic that we win but we will fight.”



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