“We will stand united against the EDL,” declared a trade unionist at a 250-strong meeting in Wellington, Telford, last week.
This mood of unity and defiance can be seen across Britain as activists organise to join the national protest against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in east London on 3 September.
So far 26 coaches have been booked.
The meeting in Wellington was organised to build a protest when the EDL marches there on 13 August, and to get people to London.
One coach has been booked, but after the meeting there are plans to book a second.
The chair of Telford AFC, Lee Carter, was at the meeting with a group of football fans who oppose racism. And 50 taxi drivers turned up to announce plans to strike on the day the EDL march.
A large contingent of young Asian people said they want to come to London after seeing off the EDL in Telford.
“We are getting more calls and details of transport as the days go by,” Josh from the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) office told Socialist Worker.
“Activists leafleted local mosques across London on Friday, and a number of festivals and events.”
Activists in Hastings on the south coast have upgraded their 16-seat coach because they have already sold all the tickets. In Portsmouth, college students have organised a gig and public meeting to build the protest.
Keith from Glasgow UAF said that activists were building to get people to London, and then to confront the Scottish Defence League in Glasgow the following week.
The mood to resist the EDL is growing. The links between Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik and British fascists have shocked many people into action.
They exposed the lie that the EDL only opposes “extremist Islam”. There are Nazis at the heart of the organisation.
EDL leader Stephen Yaxley‑Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson) was a member of the Nazi British National Party (BNP).
He joined the BNP in 2004. And he has also helped to build a “Norwegian Defence League”.
After the killings in Norway, Yaxley-Lennon declared on the BBC’s Newsnight that the same could happen in Britain.
And it has emerged that Alan Lake, founder and funder of the EDL, has hosted articles by bloggers quoted by Breivik in his Nazi manifesto.
Lake posted a racist rant against multiculturalism on his 4Freedoms website.
In it he discussed the killing of political and religious leaders. One line reads, “It will be great to see them executed or tortured to death.”
The EDL now claims Lake is not a member. But this is a tactical move, designed to cover up the depth of racism and violence that runs through the organisation.
The truth is that there is an increase in racist attacks every time the EDL marches. It wants to intimidate Muslims off the streets, and it has launched attacks on left wing and anti‑racist meetings.
In Barking and Dagenham in June two brothers were attacked during an EDL protest. One was beaten so badly that he had to have surgery on his face.
In Plymouth last week a Kurdish family were forced to barricade themselves inside their kebab shop as racist thugs chanted “EDL” and smashed the glass shopfront.
The takeaway was the site of an EDL meet-up point for a protest a few weeks before.
But not everyone is aware of the threat the EDL poses.
Ysanne Tidd lives in Newham, east London, and organises Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) events. “I think we have to find ways of reaching out to people and getting them involved,” she told Socialist Worker.
“We have started hosting LMHR events at the Theatre Royal in Stratford. It is a really good way to get the word out to people.
“We have to let people know what is about to descend on us in September.
“But the events are about more than the EDL demo. They are about tackling racism more generally.”
People across Tower Hamlets are also mobilising for the protest.
“The mood among young people is determined and defiant,” Martin Smith from LMHR told Socialist Worker.
“I’ve spoken at two meetings of over 200 young people in the last few days. In the two years I’ve been working to combat the EDL, I’ve never seen so many young people get involved.”
The EDL threatened to march in east London last year but pulled out at the last minute. Over 5,000 marched against racism anyway.
“This time we will have a much bigger protest,” Martin said.
“We are sick and tired of these racist thugs thinking they can march into our towns and cities to stir up racism and violence. We know the best way to stop them is to stand up to them in our thousands.
“That’s why we want everyone who can to join us.”
National demonstration against the racist EDL.
Assemble 11am, Saturday 3 September, Weavers Fields, Bethnal Green, London, E2 6HW. Go to uaf.org.uk