On the day of the UN anti-racism demonstration, we organised an action aimed at two groups of fascists that have repeatedly tried to attack the left and working-class organisations – Britain First and a fascist squad made up of various far-right grouplets.
The UN anti-racism demo is an annual event set up by the SWP-affiliated Stand Up To Racism, which attracts thousands of unaffiliated trade unionists every year. It also attracts violent fascist groups looking to attack and oppose the left, and have a platform for their racist propaganda and scapegoating of migrants. We decided to call an action, not to defend the SWP’s front group, but in the knowledge that fascists attack in order to grow in confidence and grow their numbers. An attack on a group of trade unionists for being ‘lefties’ and anti-racists is an attack on everyone in the movement. These threats must be faced down and crushed before they can take hold and grow.
Britain First turns up to counter demonstrate the demonstration every year, taking much pride in ‘facing down’ thousands of protesters from behind the safety of ranks of police lines. This has resulted in sporadic clashes in the past, but mostly they take the opportunity to publicise their racist trash-talk. Last year, on top of this ritual, a group of fascists affiliated with the National Rebirth of Poland, National Action, Pie and Mash Squad and South East Alliance attacked trade unionists having a drink in Embankment after the demonstration.
They stole NUT and UCU banners after beating up the trade unionists holding them. This is the same group that attacked the Belgravia squat earlier this year and attacked left-wingers in Parliament Square, hospitalising a young woman by pushing her down some stairs.
On the day of this years’s demo, AFN groups gathered nearby, planning on taking the plinth that Britain First usually try to use as their soapbox. We were beaten to it by some early-bird, unaffiliated anti-fascists, who were already in full black bloc and surrounded by police. We decided to wait until Britain First arrived before we moved off in order to ensure that we could let them know what we thought of them without a police line in the way. After walking through some backstreets, we saw Britain First making a show of trying to move anti-fascists off the plinth. This bravado quickly melted away as we moved in behind them. Fascists were relieved of their flags without a fight as they were pushed back by AFN anti-fascists to the tube station entrance. All that was offered as resistance was the shrinking figure of Paul Golding, shouting “come on then!” while quickly backing away. It was a pathetic sight to see the uniformed Fuhrer turn tail at the slightest hint of a raised voice.
The action in Piccadilly was brought to swift end, as always, by the intervention of the police. They threw a cordon up between anti-fascists and Britain First and began preparing to arrest those gathered on a Public Order offence. A quick decision was made to leave the area and regroup, we still had business elsewhere looking for the fascist squad that had turned up last year. AFN members finished the day on a high, with Britain First humiliated and the fascist squad nowhere to be seen. We proved once again why London is the city fascists dare not march in.
It is essential for the left to take these groups and these actions seriously. It is in the shadows that fascist weeds grow best. Unless a light is shone on them and they are destroyed root and stem, they will grow to threaten to divide our movement and our class. This is something we will never allow. Our anti-fascism is anti-racist working-class unity. It is first and foremost in defence of working-class interests – migrants, people of colour, black and white – and it is for the realisation of working-class power. In contrast, fascist groups are nothing but a razorblade in the hands of the bosses.