Socialist Worker

A decisive defeat for the EDL that shows anti-racists how to win

Issue No. 2319

The racist English Defence League (EDL) suffered a decisive defeat in Waltham Forest last Saturday.

It had a national mobilisation that only delivered 200 to the area on the day, and had to be protected by several hundred police. The EDL’s thugs are now tearing apart with recriminations about how they ended up so outnumbered and humiliated.

In contrast the Unite against Fascism and We are Waltham Forest demonstration of 4,000 people was built locally. It showed how to organise against the fascists. The strength on our side was its breadth, and a commitment to confronting the racists.

There are still some on the left who argue for different tactics. Some say we should argue for state bans. Yet it is the state that protects the Nazis when they march, and bans will be used against the left and working class.

Others say we should hold rallies far away from where the EDL wants to march. But Saturday showed that the only way to stop them is to take to the streets in our thousands and challenge them.

When we successfully mobilise they struggle to grow. Pressure from our side has meant that both the British National Party (BNP) and the EDL are riven by splits and crises.

At its height the BNP had 57 council seats in Britain. They currently have three. Concerted campaigning has pushed them back. The EDL is made up of street fighters with a core of Nazis. It can only hold onto supporters while they win battles on the streets.


The EDL was sent off with its tail between its legs last week. But we cannot be complacent about the Nazi threat. This battle is not over. Across Europe organised fascism is on the rise.

The impact of a prolonged and deep economic crisis creates the conditions where it can flourish. In Hungary, the Nazi Jobbik party won 15 percent in the 2010 elections. The Roma minority in the country face a growing wave of violent attacks.

The growth of Golden Dawn in Greece and the strength of the Front National in France show that the danger of fascism is intensifying. They have grown because they have offered people scapegoats to blame for the terrible suffering caused by the crisis.

Here in Britain the crisis is not going away. The Tories want to step up the austerity attacks. They have consistently used attacks on multiculturalism, migrant workers, and now students, to whip up racism and set us against one another.

All the ingredients for the fascists to grow are still there. We have to organise against them wherever they raise their head.

But at the same time socialists have to offer an alternative. Our collective class power can not only stop the Tory attacks but it can offer an alternative to a system which breeds racism and fascism.

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What We Think
Tue 4 Sep 2012, 17:52 BST
Issue No. 2319
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