Trade union leaders, Labour Party branches and others are backing a protest against the fascist English Defence League (EDL) in Leeds on Saturday.
The anti-racist protest is organised by Leeds Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Leeds Unite Against Fascism.
Christian from Leeds SUTR told Socialist Worker there has been “a definite shift” in the amount of support for the protest. “Previously individual Labour Party members would have supported similar protests,” he said.
“But now it is being discussed at branch level. Seven out of eight constituency Labour Party branches in Leeds have discussed the protest.
“And the Unite union has emailed around 44,000 members across Yorkshire and the Humber to encourage people to join it.”
The EDL protest is in support of Nazi Tommy Robinson. Robinson. The founder of the EDL was jailed after filming outside a child sexual exploitation trial in Leeds in May.
Around 400 racists and fascists marched through Leeds chanting, “Muslims off our streets” early last month.
Christian said, “People were horrified by what’s happened in Leeds. And the big fascist protest in London on 9 June was a wake up call too. These things have convinced people that they need to come together.
“More people realise that you can’t just ignore this and hope it will go away.”
Yorkshire and Humber TUC is backing the anti-racist protest, as well as several regional unions including the UCU, PCS, GMB, Unite, Unison, NEU and NASUWT.
A statement by Leeds SUTR said the atmosphere created by the far right and Robinson supporters is “toxic”.
“Whenever fascists march and mobilise, violence and racism follow in their wake,” it said. “We recognise the threat of this resurgent racist and fascist movement on the streets.
“We can’t let racists and fascists march through our city without facing mass opposition from the anti-racist majority.”
The statement is signed by Richard Burgon, a Leeds MP and shadow secretary of state for justice, and many union leaders including GMB general secretary Tim Roache.
Ikram Butt of the British Asian Rugby Association has also signed along with playwright Leon Fleming.
Christian said, “We’re hoping to have artists performing on the day of the protest. And people are coming from across the region to join it—it’s being seen as a Yorkshire-wide demonstration.”
A big protest in Leeds can give confidence to Muslims and anti-racists—and force the fascists onto the back foot.