Saturday 19 December 2009

Countering the EDL in Stoke

At the branch meeting of Stoke Socialist Party on Thursday night, we discussed the English Defence League's intention to march in the city on 23rd January. Some of the discussion dwelt on the decisions taken at Monday evening's meeting of the local anti-fascist group, North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (NorSCARF), which has decided to hold a vigil "against intolerance" on the 23rd.

Brother A opened our meeting by noting that it was always a matter of time before the EDL came to Stoke, thanks to the electoral support the BNP have in the Potteries. Therefore, as far as our party is concerned we have two key political tasks between now and the EDL's arrival. The first of these is to build as much unity as possible locally among anti-fascists of various persuasions and concentrate those forces at the counter-demonstration. For this reason, he argued against one suggestion made at the NorSCARF meeting that we should mobilise at various points of the city so the EDL does not slip through the net (at the moment, no one knows where they will be congregating - assuming the police grant permission). The second job of the
Socialist Party is to introduce our politics into the proceedings, albeit skillfully. He then moved on to outline some of the ways the branch can get stuck into this work.

In the discussion, P talked about his brief encounter with the EDL on the train to Nottingham a couple of Saturdays previous. Throughout the journey the EDL'ers traded stories about fights they'd been involved with, with one of them joking about how he'd slashed another bloke across the face. Coupled with other reports about the EDL's activities elsewhere, far from their being an organisation who wants to demonstrate peacefully about the (relatively negligible) influence Islam has in Britain, they're just a collection of thugs up for a ruck. He also noted that despite Griffin wanting to put
much distance between his dapper-suited fascists and the EDL's knuckle draggers, if you consider them together they resemble the classical fascist movement of old - one wing is "legitimate" and deals in politics while the other tries to wrest control of the streets from its opponents. It's therefore unsurprising to find a certain interchangeability among their personnel.

Brother D in his first branch meeting as a party member said he knew some EDL supporters from back home too, and they very much fitted in the footy hooligan mould. To counter them he thought we needed as many out as possible to show the depth of anti-fascism opposition that exists. Brother F agreed and the counter demo/vigil has already got the support of his union branch. A mentioned that trade unions should especially be encouraged to turn up, not least because they have tens of thousands of members across North Staffs - enough alone to dwarf whatever
national mobilisation the EDL can muster.

There was some discussion over the likely response of the authorities. In Autumn 2008, when the BNP held an event to mark the death of local fascist Keith Brown (who was stabbed by his Asian neighbour following years of abuse by Brown), the
anti-fascist counter-demonstration took place far away at the police's insistence. There was little in the way of trouble apart from some faux jostling with the cops by a handful of SWPs keen to show off their r-r-revolutionary creds. This time will be different. The reason the EDL are marching in Stoke is because the first purpose-built mosque in the Potteries is nearing completion. If they march on it they have to pass through Shelton, which is ethnically diverse and has a large Muslim population. Back in 2001 the very rumour of a BNP/NF march in Hanley was enough to spark off a riot in nearby Cobridge. I'm pretty sure the local plod are very aware an EDL march could have the same result and are likely to police it very heavily, if they allow it to go ahead at all.

Whatever the case, whether the EDL march, are escorted to a scrap of ground somewhere, kettled at the railway station or don't turn up, a strong and united anti-fascist opposition will be mobilised to show their filth is rejected by the majority of Potters.


Derek Wall said...

The Asian youth have been doing a splendid job mobilising against the EDL and we Greens have tried to do our bit, especially in Wembly.

Good luck

Leicester Unite Against Fascism said...

From our experience in Nottingham, the EDl will want to be where the most people congregate - ie the city centre. Organise your counter-demo to meet there. If you have several small demos around the city they can be easily picked off by EDL thugs and your numbers will look very small.

ModernityBlog said...


More stuff on the EDL, please.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Fighting the good fight, keep us posted please.

Jon said...

Somebody needs to get in touch with local Stoke legendary sportsman Phil The Power Taylor, who is a darting personality. Darts are ever so popular with working class people: -

We thought LMHR suporters would be interested in this article on an anti-racist initiative in Stoke, scene of this year's LMHR Festival. World darts champ Phil "The Power" Taylor says "We have all got to live together at the end of the day and it’s about time we got on with it. Great Britain could be really great if we did." He fears BNP policies have become popular in Stoke because it is run-down with few job opportunities. He adds: "People get angry because they think people from other countries are taking jobs. But these people have been born in Britain. They have every right to be here.”

If he were to become world champion again then accounce to eevryone that the EDL are not speaking for the people of Stoke, joining in the demo, the fecking EDL would be finished in Stoke, as would the BNP.

andy newman said...


marginally oblique to your topic, but doo you have any comment on the article in the SWP's IB#3 about the stoke Love Music hate racism gig, that it seems was the biggest single defeat of fascism since the Red Army captured berlin.

E Maltesta said...

Please repost this story on your blog, thanks, about defeating the EDL in stoke.

Jota said...

The Stoke SP website could do with a bit of work.

Anonymous said...

From the last paragraph of the SWP IB3 article that Andy takes umbrage at:
'The festival was a success. That doesn’t mean that we smashed
the BNP, but we did give them a bloody nose. Racism is still a huge
problem in Stoke and they still have 9 councillors on the council. We
STILL have to campaign with UAF to stop them in the next election.'

So its not actually being portrayed as a rerun of Stalingrad...

midland swp member

skidmarx said...

The Asian youth have been doing a splendid job mobilising against the EDL
Are you sure they aren't just showing off their r-r-revolutionary creds ?

Phil said...

Skidders, perhaps you can tell us what a tussle with the fuzz in this instance achieved?

I concur with Midland SWP'er, Andy. It was a bit naughty of you to over exaggerate what Bro Gary was saying. But then again there was a bit of an overstatement in what he wrote in the bulletin too. I wasn't at the LMHR carnival but I know a lot of folk who were. Let's say the comrade indulged in a little 'revolutionary inflation'.

Personally speaking, I do not see how exaggerating numbers helps anyone. Willful delusions should have no part in a political tradition committed to seeing things how they are, not how we'd want them to be.