Socialist Worker

The streets belong to the rising anti-Trump movement

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2542

The protest on Monday night in Leeds

The protest on Monday night in Leeds (Pic: Neil Terry)


The movement against the racist, sexist bigot Donald Trump returned to the streets this Monday.

Thousands gathered in Parliament Square as MPs debated Theresa May’s planned state visit for the US president. Thousands more protested across Britain.

Melanie from Swansea was protesting in London. “I don’t think we should legitimise such a racist, sexist homophobe with a state visit,” she said.

First-time protester and university student Muna agreed, “We don’t want Trump to come—there is enough racism here. We should remember that we didn’t actually vote for Theresa May.”

The protests were smaller than those against Trump’s Muslim ban earlier this month, but they reflected a serious anti-racist mood.

Many people stressed the impact that Trump’s election can have—and the need to resist.

Incitement

London protester Raf said Trump’s actions were “basically incitement to violence”.

Libby added, “Because of Nigel Farage, people think they can shout their racist filth and it’s okay.

“We need to make sure Trump doesn’t become the norm.”

I have always tried to stand up to racism and anti-immigrant sentiment. 

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott

Zeinab Mohamed was protesting in Manchester. “My daughter was held at the airport for five hours,” she said.

“Why? Because she has a stamp in her passport from Somalia. We have to stand up to Donald Trump—and the Muslim community needs to join these protests.”

The protests are still pulling in people who have never demonstrated before. But many were on their second protest. Others hadn’t protested for decades.

Labour Party member Grant said he hadn’t demonstrated since joining Anti Nazi League demonstrations 30 years ago.

In London lots of school, college and university students joined the protest.

Thousands joined the protest in Parliament Square

Thousands joined the protest in Parliament Square (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Sixteen year old student Liver came from Birmingham. “As a queer person I’m told I should hate Muslims because they’re homophobic,” she said. “I have lots of Muslim friends and I know that’s not true.”

Some saw the protests mainly as a show of strength. Student Maria said the protests helped “show that there’s hope”.

Council worker Harriet said, “We have to show that we don’t agree with Theresa May sucking up to Trump.”

Sucking

Others stressed that the protests could win. As school student Ellie said, “We’ve seen that protesting has got people places before.”

The London protest was organised by the Stop Trump group and backed by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR). SUTR co-organised many of the demos outside London.

The next step must be the national Stand Up To Racism demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on 18 March.

Writer AL Kennedy told the Glasgow rally, “I will be marching on 18 March because I am a human being.”

Mass anti-racist protests on 18 March can give a boost to all those suffering racism and help turn the tide against May.


Thousands join demos across Britain

Protests and marches across Britain took place on Monday night as MPs debated the petition protesting Trump’s state visit (see below). 

While thousands protested in Parliament Square, 1,000 came out onto the streets of Leeds.

People answered a call put out a week ago on the 30,000-strong protest outside Downing Street in London.

Meanwhile In Norwich 150 people joined a rally and 200 protested in Swansea.

Over 400 turned out in Nottingham and another 300 in Sheffield.

In Portsmouth some 70 people came to a rally and heard from health campaigner Veronica speak out about how the NHS wouldn’t exist without migrants.

In Plymouth, trade council secretary Kevin Treweeks spoke against the council’s decision to invite Trump to the town. “There will be more protests as long as Trump is president,” he said.

Kris Hedges from Cardiff told Socialist Worker, “Around 500 people took to the streets in Cardiff tonight.”

In Birmingham, where it has been rumoured that Donald Trump is set to come as part of his already ill-fated state visit, some 200 people joined the demonstration.

“We marched to the town hall,” Sharon Campion told Socialist Worker. “The march was led by members of Disabled People Against the Cuts and there were chants of unity from a large contingent of students.”

Hundreds more protested in Newcastle, Sheffield and Glasgow.

The protests have shown that a mood exists to resist Trump and the hate and bigotry he represents across Britain.

That must be directed at our ruling class as well in the coming weeks and months.


‘Reaction to Trump can be catalyst for fightback’

Speakers at the London rally included socialists, trade unionists, politicians, students, artists and campaigners.

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott speaks outside parliament on Monday (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was cheered when she said, “I have always tried to stand up to racism and anti-immigrant sentiment.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell brought a message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“The award of a state visit is usually an honour given to a respected world leader,” he said. “There is no way Donald Trump deserves this honour.”

Julia from the Jewish Socialist Group said, “We are protesting today as Jews in solidarity with Muslims, refugees and against all racism.

“We won’t give up, because protest works.”

Several speakers stressed the need for further action.

Campaigner

Poet Aliyah Hasinah urged people to “have those difficult conversations” and “call racism out”.

Anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob asked the crowd, “Will you take the message into the streets, workplaces, universities and neighbours?”

The answer was a resounding “Yes!”.

Talha Ahmad from the Muslim Council of Britain said protesters would “fill the streets” in the event of a Trump visit.

Murad Qureshi from the Stop the War Coalition said Trump must get “a reception he’s not going to forget”.

Speakers stressed the need to challenge racism here.

Dave Ward, CWU union general secretary, warned that Trump’s rhetoric could also be heard “from the government and the populist right in this country”.

He added that opposition to Trump “can be a catalyst for a real fightback”.

Anti-racist campaigner Maz Saleem said, “We need to stand united and stand up to our own prime minister.”

Unison national equalities officer Margaret Greer promised the union’s support for those opposing Trump. Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT union, said it was “vital” that teachers get involved.

Other speakers included human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, National Union of Students president Malia Bouattia and Guardian newspaper columnist Owen Jones.


Nationwide action for migrant rights

Migrant rights organisation One Day Without Us also organised protests, rallies and workplace activities

throughout Monday.

“It went really well,” Ake Achi, one of the organisers of the day, told Socialist Worker.

“This is just the beginning really, this movement just started.

“People need to expect more things coming up.”

The organisation asked supporters to meet at 1pm in public spaces for protests and rallies. People in dozens of towns and cities took part in over 100 protests and actions.

Holding

They ranged in size from hundreds marching through town centres to visiting workplaces, holding lunchtime protests or gathering together to eat meals.

Trade unionists also organised group photos in some schools and hospitals at lunchtime showing solidarity with migrant colleagues. Gwyneth Powell-Davis was on the protest in Bristol. “About 300 people gathered to cry out in rage at Trump and his walls,” she told Socialist Worker.

“It included the One Day Without Us celebration of the contribution of migrant workers”.

For more information on upcoming One Day Without Us events, go to bit.ly/2m3bhmz

Tories back state visit in debate

Tories backed Donald Trump and excused his vile sexism during an MPs’ debate on Trump’s state visit on Monday evening.

Sir Edward Leigh dismissed Trump’s boasts about grabbing women “by the pussy”.

Leigh said, “Which one of us has not made some ridiculous sexist comment in our past? Well, in private, you know.”

The debate was provoked by two petitions—one demanding the state visit be cancelled and another supporting it.

There was no vote and the government issued its official response before the debate took place.

“We look forward to welcoming president Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised,” it said.

Stand Up To Racism national demonstrations 18 March
London - 12noon, Portland Place W1A 1AA - Glasgow - 11am, Holland Street G2 4NB - Cardiff - 11am, Grange Gardens CF11 7LJ

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.