Around 7,000 people marched on the Stand Up to Racism and Fascism protest in London last Saturday. More than 1,000 protested in Glasgow and up to 700 in Cardiff.
Banners ranged from the Unite union to London Metropolitan University students, Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football, the Woodcraft Folk and the Filipino Domestic Workers Association.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) called the protests. The TUC and all the major unions backed them.
Maria and Favel are Roma originally from Slovakia. They said, “We’re so excited. We’ve never been on this kind of demonstration before.
“Seeing people from different cultures speaking was wonderful.”
On the Scottish march Nusrat Anwar from Glasgow told Socialist Worker, “I came because it’s visible defiance and a very loud message that we are willing to stand up to racism and fascism.”
Glenn Page, national chair of Plaid Cymru Youth, was on the Cardiff march.
He said, “We have a choice in the May elections as to whether we want to live in a Wales with hope in its heart or fear. That’s why we’re out on the streets today.”
Berry Taiwo, a post worker in the CWU, was on the London protest.
He said, “There is racism in some mail centres and people face discrimination and harassment. I’ve brought people here today because of this.
“I think this will give people confidence to go back into their unions and take up positions to fight back.”
Nick Ruff was carrying the Kirklees Unison banner—one of an impressive number of union banners on the London march.
He said, “Council workers know we can’t let racism be used to divide us. I come from a place where the British National Party had three councillors, but now it has none. We understand the significance of solidarity in challenging the racists.”
Juan-Carlos Piedra was with a group of 50 Ecuadoreans. He said, “We are for equality in society.
“There should be no borders. It’s racism when the government says that undocumented people can’t have benefits, or cuts opportunities to go to school, college or hospital.”
Paulette Mengnjo, chair of Right to Remain, said, “I came as an asylum seeker in 2006 and have only just been granted refugee status.
“I’ve been in detention at Yarl’s Wood. The treatment was awful. I hope today will be a wake-up call.”
Jim Rogers, former leader of Harlow council in Essex, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been told Ukip plan to turn up next weekend.
“What we’ve done today gives us a ready made group to be there if that mob do turn up.”
The protests followed a call from Greek anti-fascists for protests against the growth of racism and fascism (see right). People joined marches in cities across Europe.
Don't get in the gutter with Ukip
Speakers on the platform in London drew attention to the coming European elections.
There is a real threat from Ukip—and from mainstream politicians pandering to it.
Diane Abbott MP said, “We are here to say to the leaders of all the political parties—Lib Dems, Conservative and Labour—no to racism and fascism.
“Political parties should say no to anti-immigrant politics. Don’t scrabble with Ukip in the gutter.”
Socialist Worker editor Judith Orr told the crowd, “Too many politicians pander to Ukip’s racism.
“It’s not good enough that Ed Miliband and his crew are joining the competition about who is tougher on immigration.”
Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism had a message for Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage,
“Learn a language other than English and you’ll be a happier person. Britain is multicultural and multilingual and it’s going to stay that way.”