A vibrant march of up to 1,000 people saw off a rag tag collection of Tommy Robinson supporters in Cambridge on Saturday.
The unity protest was organised by Cambridge Stand Up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism. It was supported by a host of trade unions, political parties, community organisations, musicians and individuals.
Before marching, the anti-fascists gathered to hear local performers and speakers.
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said, “There is no place in Cambridge’s proudly diverse, multicultural and multi-faith community for the sort of racism espoused by Robinson and many of his supporters.” He said he was proud to stand alongside Mohammed Mahmood from Mill Road mosque, whose speech was greeted with huge applause.
Steve Hedley, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT union, explained why he was determined to continue to protest. He said, "They want to control the streets, intimidate people to not come out and oppose them. But we are RMT, FBU members, construction workers, and we will oppose them in numbers."
Riccardo La Torre, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Eastern Regional Secretary, and Denise Christie, Scottish Secretary of the FBU, also spoke. Riccardo said, "I am full of hope looking round this crowd. We defeat them when we are united and strong"
Tom Holliday from the Bfawu union explained how racism can be used to divide and weaken people. "In the Fast food Rights and McStrike campaigns,we organise as migrant workers, as black and white, as every creed or colour. And we have to oppose racist division”.
At one point the Tommy Robinson supporters, numbering less than 40, tried to disrupt the anti-fascist rally but they were quickly seen off. There then followed a triumphant anti-racist march around Cambridge.
Before the anti-fascists dispersed, Michael Bradley of Stand Up to Racism stressed that it is vital to mobilise anti-racists in every community and every workplace. Anywhere the racists try to sow seeds of division and hate, they can be opposed.
Paul Sillett of Unite Against Fascism warned that, while the fascists had a very bad day, the fight against them is far from won.
We will have to continue to be active and alert to the very real threat the revival of fascism poses across Britain, Europe and beyond.
Worcester sees off the EDL
The Nazi English Defence League (EDL) were outnumbered in Worcester by up to 500 counter protesters on Saturday.
Only some 20 EDL members turned up to their demonstration, called in opposition to a new mosque.
Worcester trades union council and various anti-racist groups assembled where the EDL was due to rally. A student also called a protest on the high street.
Young Muslim people led local activists and onlookers in a confrontation at the EDL assembly point prompting members of the public and other activists to join in. The whole of the main street was filled.
The EDL was left with nowhere to go and could not march. The group was heavily surrounded by the police and contained away from the shopping centre in isolation further down the road.
Glasgow beats back the Scottish Defence League
Glasgow saw a magnificent response to the planned SDL mobilisation in George Square on Saturday.
Over 250 people assembled to show their defiance and make sure fascists could not walk through the city without challenge. Only some 40 Nazis turned up.
On the anti-fascist side there were representatives and banners from Unison, Unite and Bfawu unions. The SNP, the Labour Party and The Green Party were all well represented.
Cheryl, a Unite member from Glasgow, said, “The unions have a proud tradition in the fight against the rise of fascism and we can see that here today in this really impressive turnout. The role of trade unions in this fight is crucial in chasing the Nazis off our streets.”
Previously the Nazis haven’t been able to muster anything except a small group of Scotland’s rejects. But the size of recent fascist mobilisations in England meant there was the possibility of an increase in their numbers.
The only sign of any football lads came from Celtic’s Green Brigade, who took direct action against the Nazis as they tried to assemble in George Square.
The myth that Scotland does not have a racism problem was addressed by Charlotte Ahmed an anti-racism campaigner and a member of the EIS education union.
She said, “The idea that somehow Scotland is less racist than the rest of the UK is untrue. We saw last week an Asian member of the Scottish parliament was racially abused in the street and in Edinburgh a man pled guilty to the racially aggravated attempted murder of a young Syrian refugee.
“The worry is that the political chaos around Brexit and the effects of austerity means we need to continue to confront them on the streets while they are still small.”
Kalsoom, an anti racist from the city’s Govanhill area said we need to stand together.
We need to be ever vigilant and meet the threat of the rise of fascism. Unity is the key to defeat the racists.