Anti-racists protested against the English Defence League in Manchester last year. We will need more of the same to stop its supporters demonstrating in Dudley on Sunday 4 April (Pic: Active
Weyman Bennett, the joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said, “This shows that when the anti-fascist majority gets active, the BNP can be defeated.”
National Union of Students (NUS) officers joined the campaign to stop the debate.
NUS black student officer Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy, and LGBT officers Daf Adley and Lucy Brookes, wrote, “Where the BNP is active, racist and homophobic attacks increase.
“Wherever BNP members rear their fascist heads, we will be there protesting in our hundreds and thousands.”
Meanwhile, Farooq, a campaigner in Bolton, told Socialist Worker, “It’s fantastic news that the EDL has called off its protest here.
“We must make sure we build on the unity we have achieved – and stop it if it tries to come back.”
Barry Conway, the secretary of Bolton NUT, said, “The mobilisation against the EDL was gaining significant momentum.”
His union branch passed a motion last week supporting the protest against the EDL.
“We agreed that Bolton cannot beat the EDL on its own and said we would welcome protesters against it from across the country,” said Barry.
“The local branch of the CWU union responded by saying its members would join us. And the Bolton Unison Metro branch also passed a motion opposing the EDL.
“We have a long record of anti-racist work in Bolton and a strong sense of solidarity.
“This is our town, and we will not be told to stay at home in fear while racists and fascists riot through our city.”
Over 37,000 people voted to say that they did not want the EDL coming to town in the Bolton Evening News online poll – 92 percent of those who took part.
In an outlandish twist, the EDL claimed it had made its decision because UAF members were planning to dress as its supporters.
According to the EDL, the UAF members would then attack a Hindu festival, which is due to take place on the same day as the planned protest, in an attempt to discredit the EDL.
Last week’s victories have boosted campaigners in Dudley in the West Midlands who are out to stop the EDL demonstrating in their town on Sunday 4 April.
Almost 40 people attended a UAF meeting in Dudley last week to organise a counter-demonstration.
“The appalling scenes from the EDL riot in Stoke have fired people up,” said local campaigner Jerry Langford.
“People came from across a wide spectrum of the community.
“There were Unison and NUT union members, Muslims, representatives of local churches, lesbian and gay groups, and UAF activists from across the Black Country.”
“It is an opportunity to roll back the EDL and undermine the BNP’s election efforts in the area.”
In Bolton, there was a debate on how to stop the fascists and racists.
Campaigners say that the police and the council were actively discouraging people from the Asian community from protesting against the EDL.
If successful, this strategy would lead to disaster.
Stoke showed that where racists are left to rampage through the streets they gain confidence, as do fascist parties like the BNP.
It is important that the anti-fascist movement learns the lessons of the past.
When Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts tried to march down Cable Street in east London in 1936, hundreds of thousands of working class people stopped them.
Likewise, mass mobilisations drove the Nazi National Front off the streets in the 1970s.
Anti-fascists from across the country must ensure there is a mass mobilisation to oppose the EDL in Dudley – and anywhere else it or the Nazi BNP show their faces.
UAF has called the protest in Dudley. For further information go to » www.uaf.org.uk
Unite Against Fascism
national conferenceSaturday 13 February, 10am to 5pm
TUC Conference Centre, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS