Oppose the Racist English Defence League
North Staffs Campaign Against Racism & Fascism (NorScarf) has organised the Unity Rally in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent on 23rd Jan. to mobilise opposition to a planned ‘march’ by the nationalist and racist English Defence League.
Whenever the EDL (which aims to build amongst football hooligans) has reared its head in other towns and cities, it has been opposed by local community activists, trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners defending their communities.
The EDL’s claim to be non-racist and only against “Militant Islam” is a cover for trying to whip up racism against Muslims. Wherever the EDL surfaces there is a vile racist atmosphere; footage exists of appalling anti-Islamic chanting and Nazi salutes. There are also reports of racist attacks occurring near to where their supporters are.
The EDL repeatedly use the plight of British troops in Afghanistan to try to fuel their racist propaganda, and they may do so again on this occasion. While socialists and activists within NorScarf oppose the war in Afghanistan and call for British troops to be brought home, NorScarf stresses that their rally is against the EDL and not against British troops.
Some try to discourage any opposition to the EDL and their activity rather than speak out against them. They seem to see the opposition to the EDL as the problem. But we’re not fooled by claims that the EDL is non-racist and oppose them because their divisive aims pose a threat to the much needed unity of ordinary working class people.
Experience elsewhere has shown that if there is an opportunity, the EDL will try to march. Unlike the EDL, NorScarf does not want provocation or violence on the streets of Stoke-on-Trent, but at the same time is mobilising to show that threats of racial or religious violence and intimidation will be opposed by sheer weight of numbers.
Some people argue that it is better to boycott the NorScarf counter rally and ignore the EDL. Some other local and national politicians from the main political parties are silent on the EDL's appearance, probably because they have no alternative to offer that would cut across division by raising living standards for all communities of whatever background. Instead of tackling unemployment, poverty, homelessness etc, they seem more concerned about bailing out rich bankers.
However, allowing them to organise on our streets would give them the confidence to continue their divisive, racist activities. We are determined to expose and oppose them, by organising a large, well stewarded and peaceful counter event.
For Jobs, Homes and Services, Not Racism!
The far right EDL & BNP try to exploit the devastating economic crisis to promote racist ideas but they have no solutions to the misery caused by this crisis. The EDL are specifically scapegoating Mulsims.
Over one trillion pounds of our money has been used to prop up banks while top bankers continue to pay themselves massive bonuses. The bosses and their politicians want us to pay for bailing out the bankers!
New Labour, Tories & Lib Dems are competing over who can carry out the most savage cuts in public services, already cut to the bone. It’s no surprise that electoral support for parties like Labour has collapsed and this has allowed the BNP to make a breakthrough by getting 2 members of the Euro Parliament elected in June.
Leading BNP members try to hide their Neo-Nazi ideas and past activities but not because they have changed their ideas or their long term aims. They know that if they tried to build an openly Neo-Nazi party with an organised street fighting wing to carry out physical attacks on trade unionists and large scale racist attacks – they would get limited support and be defeated as they were in the massive mobilisations of the late 1970’s & early 1990’s.
This does not mean that the BNP are not dangerous; their electoral success and increasing media profile mean their divisive ideas are reaching a wider audience. The main three parties all whip up prejudice and racism when it suits them and their pro-big business agendas.
They are aided by the right wing pro-bosses media which blames Muslims, asylum seekers and immigrant workers for the problems caused by government policies and the economic crisis. The BBC give Nick Griffin a platform on Question Time but exclude elected reps from socialist organisations and left trade unionists like Bob Crow of the RMT in national political debate.
Where the BNP has a presence racist attacks increase. Their electoral success also encourages far right groups like the EDL who organise demos aiming to whip up tension & violence and demonise Muslims. Groups like the EDL want to provoke violent reaction from Asian, Black and migrant communities to create conflict.
Hardline fascists among BNP voters are a tiny minority. We need to build a movement strong enough to convince those who have been conned by the BNP or voted for them in protest against the 3 main parties. But it’s not enough to just call on people not to vote for them!
To decisively defeat the far right, we need to put forward a positive political alternative to the three main parties who have opened the door to the BNP. We need to campaign for decent jobs, free education, homes and services.
The recent Euro elections saw the far right make gains in a number of countries. But their support has been undermined by new forces on the left that have provided a political alternative. In Germany, the electoral success of the Left Party has meant support for the far right NDP has been limited. The economic crisis does not automatically mean electoral success for the far right. In Ireland, hit hard by the crisis, Socialist Party activist, Joe Higgins was elected putting forward a fighting program.
We need a new mass workers party based on the trade unions and young people that puts forward a fighting programme of a united struggle against attacks from the bosses and their politicians that would tackle the root causes of racism and fascism – unemployment, poverty, homlessness etc and cut across the lies of the far right
Unite against the EDL! Defend our communities!