The EDL did not go unchallenged. A counter protest of around 500 students, trade unionists and local people – black, white and Asian – turned out to counter the EDL.
Robby and Colin, two local black people, told Socialist Worker, “They think they speak for the people of Stoke, but they don’t. The BNP is using the recession and targeting vulnerable people.”
Kevin, who came with the student delegation, said that the police had been telling students not to join the protest.
He added, “Stoke is important for the BNP – they have eight councillors here. We need to show people that anti fascists are the majority”.
Jason Hill, from the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, said, “The EDL’s racism and Islamophobia are not welcome here.”
Trade unionists from the NASWUT, NUT, Unison, CWU and Unite attended the protest, as did local councillors. Steve Funnell, of North Staffordshire TUC, told Socialist Worker, “Stoke has never recovered from Thatcher’s recession.
“Many of the problems in our communities have not been addressed so it has become a breeding ground for organisations like the BNP and EDL.”