Nobody should now be in any doubt about the threat from the far right in Britain.
Saturday’s demonstration in London by around 15,000 people in support of fascist Tommy Robinson should be a turning point.
When the Football Lads Alliance mobilised a similar number last October, it was possible to say that not all of them were hardened racists. And they insisted they were separating themselves from people like Robinson.
It was suggested by some—not Socialist Worker—that this was a momentary episode that would soon fall away. Such illusions should now have been stripped away.
Far from any pretence of shunning Robinson, Saturday’s rally was all about him. Ukip’s leader Gerard Batten told the crowd that “history will judge him as being on the right side of a struggle between good and evil”.
Those listening to him on the protest have been hardened up around a set of racist polices and herded behind the fascist Robinson. Some gave Nazi-style salutes.
This is not the time for complacency. It is folly to think that because Jeremy Corbyn is doing quite well in the polls there is no need for mass mobilisation against racism and fascism.
The left can be winning inside the Labour Party and Corbyn can be popular and a lethal fascist street movement can develop all at the same time.
Racist ideas do not melt away simply because there is a more left wing Labour Party. It requires specific and active organisation.
Saturday’s rally will encourage more outrages like the Leeds Mosque and gurdwara arson attacks last week. It will lead to more assaults like the one in Bolton that has left a woman in a critical condition.
And the venomous racism it peddled will divide working people at a time when they need unity against the Tories and the bosses.
This is not the time to panic. The far right rallies are threatening, but they can be pushed back.
Most working class people are not racists, and they are opposed to the violent scapegoating we saw last weekend. They will be horrified by the murder and destruction that the fascists want to see.
There are 550,000 members of the Labour Party. There are over six million trade unionists. This strength can be mobilised, and if it is the Robinson supporters will be beaten.
It was very welcome that lots of trade union leaders backed the Stand Up To Racism counter-protest last Saturday. But it was too small, and there were not nearly enough trade unionists there.
Now we need to redouble the efforts to have a stronger counter-protest in the future. The call needs to go out from Labour MPs, trade union leaders and all anti-racists that it’s time to act.
This is urgent.
It took time before sufficient numbers of people became convinced of the threat posed by the English Defence League (EDL) and opposed them on the streets.
The EDL emerged in April 2009. It was not decisively beaten until the autumn of 2012.
But along the way there were several large protests that blocked them and began to take the momentum away from them. We need mass leafleting, agitation in the workplaces and colleges, and cultural events to give confidence to anti-racists.
The demonstrations against Donald Trump take on an even greater urgency than before because the Robinson crew are fuelled by their international allies.
Big protests against Trump will boost everyone fighting racism. They will show that most people don’t want a British version of the far right groups that have clustered around Trump.
It’s a problem that the next rally for Robinson has been called on the day of the Durham Miners’ Gala. It will not be good enough for 200,000 people to march and listen to Corbyn and his supporters in Durham if at the same time the far right is rampaging in London.
There have to be far more on the streets on the anti-racist side in the future.