Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Stoke EDL Update

As the temperatures plunged below zero outside, the North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (NorSCARF) met on summer chairs and garden furniture in a ad hoc location last night. The reason? To put our anti-fascist preparations into operation for the planned "protest" by the English Defence League on January 23rd (more details about why they've chosen Stoke in this previous post).

Most crucially after a meeting with the police the venue of the EDL mobilisation and the counter-protest have changed. They have decided not to ban the EDL protest (though apparently there are efforts under way by some councillors to do so), but will be heavily policing it. The EDL will be arriving by coach somewhere at the boundaries of Stoke-on-Trent and will then be escorted to the meeting place in the city centre. Funnily enough, their rendezvous point is yet again J.D. Wetherspoons (I wonder if they've ever considered a sponsorship deal?) EDL thugs arriving by train will also be met by the police and then escorted on. The EDL rally will then take place at 3pm opposite Argos in Hanley and go on for one hour, apparently with speeches.

The anti-fascist mobilisation has changed venue too. Previously I reported it would be taking place at Staffs Uni Student's Union, which is just a stone's throw from the train station. Instead the police have recommended we mobilise outside Hanley town hall - which is about 200 yards from where the EDL will be. From a policing point of view it makes sense - the streets in that part of town make a natural 'no man's land' that a concentrated presence would be able to enforce.

The NorSCARF protest may or may not include a march (to be decided) and will be a mix of a vigil and a rally. The emphasis will be very much on non-violence - so those thinking of travelling to Stoke for a ruck with either the EDL or the old bill are not welcome. NorSCARF are also looking to mobilise as many anti-fascists as possible from around the country - so all trade union, faith groups, socialists etc. will be warmly received. NorSCARF also has a number of stunts planned, about which I'm sworn to secrecy.

That's the latest for now. A press statement will be released shortly with the finer points of detail on it. Obviously, I'll keep readers posted.


red snapper said...

So just do what the cops tell you. Is this the way to fight these fascists? Just have your nice fluffy event some distance away and allow the bigots to spout their vile stuff, especially up in Stoke where they well get some support? Pathetic. Total capitulation to the forces of the state. What if some local youths want to confront them like they did in Birmingham where they literally drove them out of town? Will you condemn them? Thought you guys were opposed to liberal anti fascism? Even the UAF can do better than this.

Phil said...

My attitude to anti-fascism and opposition to its liberal strands can easily be found from a cursory examination of what's written on this blog, Red. Alas NorSCARF is not led by have a go heroes - some are pacifist and fundamentally opposed to violence of any kind. Besides, physical confrontation in these circumstances is ludicrous - quite apart from every copper in Stoke being drafted in to police the divide between the two groups, we're talking hardened footy thugs vs people who are, let's say, less handy. That's a recipe for serious injury, not the EDL being chased out of town.

Plus don't you think a confrontation between the EDL and local asians is what the EDL want? Can you imagine how this will impact on the political situation in Stoke?

red snapper said...

The EDL were driven out of Birmingham by local youth of ALL races not just Asian Muslims. This happened on two occasions. They got such a hiding that they said they would not come back to the city again, and you know what? It fucking worked. You going to condemn this working class fightback or not? Will you support or condemn if the same happens up in Stoke, or you worried that it may piss off the BNP and those bigots who vote for them, so be nice to them instead? Interesting that the SP never mentioned nor intervened in the Birmingham events. Interesting that.

Phil said...

I'll thank you to not put words in my mouth, seeing as I haven't talked about condemning anyone. Needless to say the EDL got their just desserts in my humble opinion.

But we're talking about an entirely different situation in Stoke. The local anti-fascist organisation doesn't want violence. The police aren't going to let any argy bargy happen, and the EDL will likely be kettled in a small location. However violence would suit the ends of the local BNP very much. Do you think a clutch of new fascist councillors and a strong challenge to two local Labour MPs are a price worth paying for "driving the EDL out of town"?

I don't.

red star said...

Why do you think one has to follow the other? You are letting the BNP set the agenda. Just go along with what they and the cops want thats the way to go. Guess its to be expected as the SP position is that the BNP/EDL are not fascists but a slightly nastier version of UKIP. Next think the SP will get into an electoral alliance with them. Wouldn't surprise me as the precedence has been set in Ireland with SP and PUP/UVF and condoning BJ4BW and uncritically cheering on the racist bigots of the POA and recruiting their thuggish leader was bad enough.

Phil said...

And this is where your argument disassembles into the preconceived position you've got in your own head. You're assuming we're leading the protest - we're not.

As for the rest of your trolling nonsense - jog on keyboard warrior.

red snapper said...

Am no troll, am just raising legitimate points on one of the most important issues that the left has had to confront in a long time which you refuse to answer. I have no preconceived position in my head, all I have said in the public domain anyway.I know the SP is leading the protest, I wasn't there at the meetings so have no idea what you and other SP members proposed. You tell me? So if the SP were organising the demo how would it be different? Again another legitimate question.

PS last post should have been signed off as red snapper, sorry about that.

Housey said...

The Socialist Party did have members present at the Birmingham anti-EDL demos; why make stuff up to back your argument red snapper? The EDL are going around the country, but Brum was one place they tried marching twice - I don't think we can know the consequences of events there as clearly as you say.

No, the SP don't 'condemn' the people who fought the EDL but the main thing to think about is consequences and tactics. At the moment, most of our branches seem to be concluding, based on local conditions, that increasing the size and social weight of anti-EDL demos is the most important thing. We also argue for anti-fascism to be linked to positive demands for jobs, homes and services, like in the upcoming March for Jobs in Dagenham.

Accusing the SP of not wanting to piss off the BNP is bang out of order when our members put themselves in danger to oppose them throughout the country.

Boffy said...

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be here when the EDL march takes place. If I were I would definitely be in favour of attempting to stop the EDL. Of course, if it becomes obvious that the number of people who turn up to do that is inadequate, you act accordingly. But, to start from a position which says we can't try to stop the EDL because it might end up with people getting a kicking is rank defeatism.

There has been lots of notice that this march was going to take place. The EDL are bringing in people from outside the area, and there is time to bring anti-fascists in from outside the area to stop them too. Moreover, there are plenty of ex-miners, and others locally who can give as good as they get from the fascists or the police. If NORSCARF and the Trades Council had used the last couple of months to contact Trades Unions to actually mobilise to STOP the EDL then there might have been a potential to achieve that. To be honest, if I was an ex miner ready to rip the head off the fascists you certainly wouldn't see me turning up for a "Vigil", which sounds more like something people might do while they engage in that other worthless activity of saying prayers for their deliverance.

If enough Trades Unionists, anti-fascists and members of the the local ethnic communities turned up, it would not be a matter of people getting a kicking. Experience elsewhere shows the EDL do not turn out huge numbers of people, and confronted by a sizeable presenece they slink away.

Opposition to the fascists has to be based on two prongs, a) an adequate socialist set of polciies put forward tod eal with the problems of ordinary workers on which the fascists feed, and b) determined counter mobilisation to drive the fascists off the streets.

SamG said...

Red snapper is out of order.

But have you attempted to mobilise the local Asian community or at least sought their opinion? These are after all the people in the direct firing line.

I also think more people would be sympathetic to the Muslim community standing up for itself than you seem to think. I am sure if the Islamic Wootton Bassett march went ahead many people would think they deserved being run out of town. What makes the EDL so different?

Mark P said...

It's not about whether the EDL "deserve" to be run out of town.

It's about whether, in these particular circumstances a violent confrontation would help anti-fascists or the local BNP - who are a rather more significant issue in Stoke than the EDL's travelling circus.

These are tactical decisions better made by people on the ground than by keyboard warriors in the comment sections of leftist blogs. The rest of us are certainly entitled to our opinions, but ultimately it's the local anti-fascist movement which is likely to have a better understanding of the local situation and who have to look at the bigger picture in terms of the far right in Stoke.

I've no idea why Red Snapper chose to throw a whole load of quite bizarre smears into this conversation.

SamG said...


It is about whether the EDL deserve to be run out of town in the eyes of the majority of people.
This whole article is about using tactics that local people find acceptable. I tend to think that most people would agree that Muslim communities have a right to confront the EDL, to defend themselves.

And if they don't then we should argue they should!

I do agree that at the end of the day those on the ground should make the call but that shouldn't stop us having our say.

Boffy said...

A "tactical" decision is one that you make on the day when you see how the balance of forces stack up. The question of whether you allow fascists to grow by dominating the streets is a question of principle and strategy, and is so important that it cannot be left to purely local electoral considerations of what effect it might have on the BNP's vote in Stoke.

At the moment the EDL have managed to mobilise only relatively small numbers, which where they have been effectively countered has resulted in them being shown up. AS this report shows it is more than possible to out mobilise the fascists here.

The point is that if the fascists are able to mobilise without effective opposition at this stage, then as time goes on, and they gain numbers and confidence from such mobilisation, it WILL begin to be the case that more and more workers will feel intimidated, and put-off mobilising against them. Fascists do not base themselves on what is electorally succesful, even if hte BNP are using that tactic at the moment - and we shouldn't forget that a large number of BNP'ers are also members of the EDL - but on controlling the streets. We have to stop them now.

Mark P said...

Arthur I think that's completely wrong headed.

The BNP are the central issue for anti-fascists in Stoke and elsewhere. The EDL - who by the way have a rather more ambiguous relationship with the BNP than you suggest - are in this context a sideshow. Chasing a small bunch of morons around the country is all well and good but it cannot be allowed to take precedence over the struggle against the BNP.

You remember them. The far right organisation with thousands of members, hundreds of thousands of votes, dozens of councillors, two MEPs and an increasingly "mainstream" public profile. There is no possibility of the EDL "controlling the streets" by spending a few hours kettled up in Stoke. There is every possibility of the BNP making further advances and further legitimising far right politics.

Anonymous said...

"Anti-fascists" counter-protesting in support of people like Choudary, who openly admit to their goal of Islamifying Britain, which means death for those who disagree - anti-fascists, don't make me laugh.

The mission of Islamification "at all costs" (Choudary's words) is the real fascism, yet I don't see the so called "anti-fascists" doing a jot about this.

Utterly, utterly farcical.

Phil said...

I'm sorry anonymous, do you have a comprehension problem? Which anti-fascists are "counter-protesting in support of people like Choudary", and where?

Anonymous said...

choudary is making it public knowledge his intentions with the islamification of britain like earlier post said, thats facism on a plate, so why no counter protest from you, the so called anti fascist against them??????? always picking a fight with whites, and as far as the edl being run out of birmingham lets have it right, it was a brand new organisation with around 100 members, now more than 10,000 so lets see you run the edl anywhere now...to see a 1000 edl supporters running, it aint happening. the edl have a legitamate concern, and are certainly not going away.. so keep on with your anti fascist rubbish, your nothing but labellers, and ill tell you this, 100 edl would have no problem messing up 500 uaf,our ulster defence league are serious contenders...you peanuts aint scaring no one, i see alot of milatary backing for the edl, thats nice, i wonder how many of our hereos are with the UAF, ur let me guess....... NONE, so we the edl cannot protest against something we think is right and important but you lot can, mmm double standard there, all your effort has had zero effect on the growth of the edl, id go asfar as to say you have helped it along, i get great pleasure out of that, ;0)
so we got a french defence league and an american defence league, maybe there is a legitamate concern there, if you stopped using the words fascist bigot and racist you may be able to get a grip of what is really going on. dont expect me as a white english man to sit back and watch the islamification of my homeland and say nothing, it aint happening for me and millions like me. its our right as a human being to show dissatisfaction when we are upset..the uaf are a laughing stock, your members are creepy looking folk, you need to understand we are people like you we have concerns also, and we have a right to air this however its possible to do, so come to all the edl demos your presence is laughed at, and you help us grow, you truly are a strange group of odd folk...and you are not the majority

Phil said...

I think I'm going to frame this. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

this message is for red snapper,
i was in stoke, with around 1500-2500 edl top lads, the uaf and its united front on the other hand had around 1500 oooppps i put a zero to many there i meant 150 muppets, what was all that cheap talk about being run out of town, even the police couldnt hold us, so what are a load of communist pencil necks gonna do, you would do this country a great favour if you kept you mouth shut, like i have said in the earlier post, your group of weaklings is a catalist for our anger, as well as our other issues like the loss of or british identity and the colonisation of our land.red snapper lol the snapper part of your name will be your bones if you get in the firing line of the edl, who unlike your crowd, are fighters we are the strong, and we laugh at your weak little threats, we are growing very fast, after just 4 months we are outnumbering you around 20-1 in stoke and thats a moderate guess.dont tell me your gonna mobilise for dudly and talk tough on here, well you gonna need to cus i can see dudly producing 5000 edl and everyone of them is ready to seriously hurt the likes of you..downside for uaf losers is the likes of us can spot the likes of you from a mile away, you have no excuse now, you had plenty of time to prepare for this we didnt keep it a secret, your ilk has even been begging the asian community to come out and defend themselves your so shit scared you calling the asians out lol well a few asians did turn up but unlucky again for you, they were edl, now what mupp.. who you gonna turn to next the police, that you have spent the last few years fighting with and calling names lol, your finished and we are just starting, in my words snapper, you aint worth a carrot, see you in dudly mug... as for the comments about the edl being uneducated, well we are, we didnt have the chances in life you fuckers did, but stood in front of each other, id rather be uneducated and brake your jaw, rather than be educated and receive the broken jaw, beside most accademics are versed in 1 maybe 2 subjects, ask the accdemic a question about a subject they have not learnt about and they will scrath there head..so keep calling us names, label us, but its undiniable we love this country we love our flag unlike your leader martin smith who says the union jack is repulsive..whats that all about this is britain..this is a democratic country and the edl like that, you on the other hand support communism ? wtf this is britain, was it not communism that was responsible for the death and suffing of millions maybe billions of innocent people, would you fight for this country? would you fly a union jack? would you eventually speak out about the colonisation of britain/europe,?
i want britain to remain predominatly white not all white just majority, does that make me racist of course not, that dosnt mean i hate other colours, just what it says, id like MY homeland to give my children, the life i had before immigration changed everything. thats my human right. so if you call me nasty names because of this, then expect no mercy, for none will be shown.i have grown to hate your ilk more than your ilk hates me, my passion is stronger and im willing to go all the way, if i have to ..and so are millions like me.

Phil said...

I think the above will come in handy next time someone from the EDL claims they're a peaceful organisation. Fascists really are dumb.