Around 2,000 people turned up to enjoy the brilliant Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) festival in Margate, Kent, last Saturday.
Black, white and Asian people—families, students, pensioners and music lovers—packed onto the seafront to soak up the sunshine, good beats and an anti-racist message.
Trade unionists and local campaigners also took part including stalls run by the teachers’ NUT union and the postal workers’ CWU union who were campaigning against the privatisation of Royal Mail.
“Margate is much more diverse than it used to be,” Anastasia, one of a group of students helping steward the event, told Socialist Worker.
“But racism is still around,” added Tisha. “That's why today is important—to combat it.”
Local bands like Rebel Control. Rapscallions and Joey Prolapse wowed the crowd while local breakdancers took to a platform at the front of the stage.
The fantastic Tyrannasaurus Alan and Spookasonic, and—the highlight of the event—Lowkey brought in big crowds of young people.
Glenroy Watson from the RMT union and a train driver on the London Underground, said that the gig was part of a bigger struggle against inequality and scapegoating.
“We have to build a society where nobody goes to bed hungry, where nobody goes without a home or proper education,” he said.
“The ConDem government is attacking us—we've got to be prepared to fight back. We didn't create the financial crisis and we didn't vote for it. We are being governed by an unelected coalition.
“Well our trade union is insisting: if you come for us you will face a brick wall.
“We also say if you come for us and try to divide our communities with racism then you will face a brick wall too.”
Local students from Hartsdown Technology College and Foreland Special School were campaigning against the withdrawal of their Building Schools for the Future funding.
Kerry and Carl, who are sixth form students, spoke to Socialist Worker about the campaign.
“We are three months off the start of the build but have been told there is no money—even though millions has been spent already,” said Kerry.
“The plans were to link both schools,” said Carl. “That's important—it would have meant that students with special needs are integrated with other students.”
Both came along to get support for the campaign but also to show their opposition to racism.
Martin Smith, LMHR national organiser, congratulated everyone who was at the festival. He said, “In the press Margate is described as a racist town—but today you have sent a message back that it isn't.
“Dark clouds are gathering across Europe—governments are trying to blame the Roma, Asians and the poor for societies problems. That helps the racist and fascist EDL and BNP to grow.
“We can't have vulnerable people blamed for problems they haven't created. We have to stand together and fight back showing the kind of unity we can see in Margate today.”
Speakers who called for solidarity and linked the struggle against the oncoming cuts and attacks on jobs, wages and benefits and racist scapegoating got the biggest applause throughout the day.
Activists from the North Kent Labour Party donated £100 on the day, and Councillor Iris Johnson spoke and made a £30 donation.
The mood of the day was best summed up by ex Clash road manager Johnny Green who was at the Anti Nazi League Rock Against Racism event in Victoria Park, Hackney, in 1978: “It [racism] ain't sorted out—we've always got to be vigilant.”
The festival was made possible because of a fantastic and inspired group of LMHR and Unite Against Fascism activists and local students and musicians. The support and donations from workplaces and trade union branches including Thanet and Canterbury NUT, Invicta CWU, Thanet Nasuwt, Dover and Thanet district council Unison branches and south east region and Invicta Unite union branches also helped.