Socialist Worker

Why we must protest against EDL in Tower Hamlets on 3 September

by Martin Smith
Issue No. 2267

A section of the 5,000 strong unity march against the EDL in Tower Hamlets, 2010 (Pic: Smallman )

A section of the 5,000 strong unity march against the EDL in Tower Hamlets, 2010 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The English Defence League (EDL) has declared that it will still demonstrate in east London this Saturday 3 September—despite a ban on its planned march.

And United East End (UEE) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) have made it clear they will hold a counter-protest in Tower Hamlets on the same day.

We’ve known for some time that the EDL planned to march through east London.

That is why a broad-based coalition came together to organise against them.

But many within that coalition called on home secretary Theresa May to ban the EDL march. The list includes the anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate, two local Labour MPs and the borough’s mayor.


The Socialist Workers Party opposed the call for a state ban. But there are many in UAF who supported it.

The popularity of the call for a ban should come as no surprise—nobody wants racist thugs running around their streets.

The call for a ban may be “common sense”, but it certainly isn’t “good sense”.

The home secretary made her announcement, banning the EDL march—but also every other march across five London boroughs for 30 days.

She said, “Having carefully considered the legal tests in the Public Order Act and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighbouring boroughs for a 30-day period.”

The announcement was bad news for the anti-racist movement, as we too are banned from marching.

We now have the sickening spectacle of a Tory minister and the police portraying ­fascists and anti-fascists as the same.

We must not allow the authorities to treat those opposing racism as if they are the same as the friends of Norwegian Nazi and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.


The ban is also bad news for all of us who want to defend civil liberties.

If Theresa May gets her way, the East London LGBT pride celebration, planned for 24 September, will also be under threat.

There will be no marches to defend local hospitals, jobs and services.

Yet, despite the ban, the EDL has made it clear that it will still come to Tower Hamlets this Saturday.

A message to their supporters posted on their Facebook page boasts: “Tower Hamlets demo is NOT banned. What they have done is banned our ‘march’ but we WILL still have a static demo.

“Remember that we have to walk to ‘muster points’ and from those muster points we have to walk to the demo area.

“Makes no difference what way you look at it, we will still be marching in Tower Hamlets next Saturday.”

Because the EDL are still coming to east London this Saturday it is vital that ­anti‑racists turn out to protest in the biggest possible numbers.

The ban only applies to marches—anyone and everyone is legally allowed to hold static protests.

So there is no time to waste.

Over the next few days we have to ensure that as many people as possible join the UEE/UAF demonstration.

And we have to campaign to make it as big and broad as possible.

Join the protest to keep the racist EDL out of east London: Saturday 3 September, 11am. The new assembly point is at the corner of Whitechapel Road and Vallance Road, near the East London Mosque. Nearest tube Whitechapel.Please spread the word. Go to for details of transport and publicity.

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