A violent fascist attack against trade unionists shows the threat posed by the forces of the British far right.
Fascist thugs attacked a group of around ten trade unionists after a 3,000-strong mobilisation against supporters of jailed Nazi Tommy Robinson last Saturday. .
And they knocked an Asian woman to the ground after fleeing from the scene at the Westminster Arms pub in central London.
Steve Hedley, RMT transport union senior deputy general secretary, was hospitalised after the attack.
Bridget Power, who was also attacked, has been readmitted to hospital with breathing problems.
“We were sitting in the beer garden in front of a pub in Westminster about an hour after the demonstration,” Hedley told Socialist Worker.
“We came under attack from a hail of bottles and road cones. I got a glass in my face and Bridget got a metal chair in the ribs.
“It was probably premediated because they probably recognised me from speaking at the anti-fascist counter-demonstration. They were chanting Tommy Robinson and English Defence League slogans.”
Claire Dissington and Adeela Khan were also at the pub after the anti-fascist mobilisation.
Claire told Socialist Worker, “We’d been on the demonstration and were really happy that we’d got the numbers out.
“After people marched away from Whitehall we decided to go for a drink.
“We put our glasses on Steve Hedley’s table—though we didn’t know it was him at the time. I saw then about 20 Tommy Robinson supporters coming down the road carrying pint glasses and bottles.
“They were really purposeful, came really quickly to the front of the pub and started shouting chants about Tommy Robinson.
“And as they shouted, glass rained down on us so fast. They threw bottles, punched, hit and kicked someone to the floor—I thought someone was going to die on our side.”
Adeela told Socialist Worker, “I’m almost certain the more I look back at it that it was planned and that they were looking for people to attack.
“It was definitely because they saw people from the demonstration.
“The next time people go on these demonstrations, they need to be aware that their side are going around afterwards.”
She added, “We tried to get police officers, but the one police officer we found wouldn’t get out of the driver’s seat in his van.
“We went back to the pub, I was stood on the pavement and someone pushed me over from behind.
“Just after that, they left and some police officers turned up.
“I reported it to police at the scene and gave them my details, but I have not heard anything from the police.”
These assaults show that the true nature of Robinson’s supporters—racist, violent, anti-working class.
Anti-racists need to build on the success of last Saturday’s counter-demonstration—and make sure we have even greater numbers when the fascists next try to march.
Fascists will grow if Robinson is released
Tommy Robinson’s appeal against a 13-month sentence was set to be heard as early as Wednesday this week at the Royal Courts of Justice.
He may not be released—but whenever he does come out, he and his supporters will call mobilisations.
These have the potential to be much bigger than the 6,000 fascists and racists who rallied on Whitehall last Saturday. The fascists sense an opportunity to rebuild a racist movement on the streets.
The audience on these street mobilisations has hardened up politically in the last year.
The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) mobilised 15-20,000 under the banner of “united against extremism” last October. Robinson was treated officially as an outsider by the leadership and far right flags were officially banned.
He is now the central focus—and Islamophobia is the glue that binds the whole movement together.
The 6,000 who came out last Saturday were mobilised on a much more overtly racist basis.
The leadership of the FLA—and their bigger split the Democratic FLA—wasn’t fascist but aimed to build an Islamophobic movement.
They have been marginalised—and fascists are firmly at the head of the new movement around Robinson.
Anti-fascists have to be ready to take to the streets against Robinson’s supporters again. As a street movement, they gain confidence by marching.
By mobilising against them on the streets, anti-racists can break their confidence and organisation.