A Nazi attack on a socialist bookshop after the release of Tommy Robinson last week showed the renewed threat of the British far right.
Outpourings of solidarity from across the left showed the possibility to push back against it.
Hundreds of people have been to Bookmarks in central London after a mob of 12 Nazis and racists marched into the shop last Saturday night.
And many more are expected to turn up to a “We will not be silenced” solidarity day this Saturday.
Dave Gilchrist, the manager at Bookmarks, told Socialist Worker they had been “overwhelmed” with support.
“We’ve had a huge number of people come down, both previous and new customers,” he said.
Author Louise Raw and delegations from local bookshops and publishers came with presents and messages of support.
The leaders of the TUC, Unite, GMB and RMT unions were among the trade unionists who sent their solidarity.
“A whole number of union members have also been down to the shop,” said Dave.
“We’ve had Steve Hedley, the RMT senior assistant general secretary, who was himself attacked by the fascists after a demonstration.”
The attack on Bookmarks is a sign of the growing confidence of the far right.
The fascists and the racist populists of Ukip are increasingly working together.
Ukip was forced to suspend three members—Luke Nash Jones, Elizabeth Jones and Martin Costello—who are suspected to have taken part in the attack. A new layer of young people who look to Trump and the US alt right has been a significant factor on recent thousands-strong “Free Tommy” rallies in London.
Bookmarks worker Senan told Socialist Worker, “You had both the alt right in suits and about three fascist lad types in the attack on us.
“The three of them were more up for a fight than the suits—but afterwards the others were more emboldened and up for it too.”
He added, “This was different to other times we’ve had far right people come to the shop and it happened in broad daylight in central London.”
Noel, another Bookmarks worker, told Socialist Worker he thought the attack was planned in advance. “I recognised one of people in the crowd,” he said.
“He had been in the bookshop a week before arguing with other customers.
“He had been coming out with alt right slogans, fake news nonsense stuff, and we had to get rid of him.”
The fascists sense an opportunity to rebuild a movement on the streets that’s capable of carrying out much more serious attacks against Muslims and minorities.
Anti-fascists have to be ready to mobilise when they try to march and bring the Nazis to book.
Bookmarks Solidarity Day
Join us in the shop for an afternoon of speeches, book readings—and a celebration of radical bookselling. It's free and there's no booking required.
Saturday 11 August, from 2pm till 5pm. Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE
Join the fight against racism
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the attack on Bookmarks showed that “we can no longer ignore the rise of far right politics in our society”.
He tweeted that it came alongside the “scale of the Tommy Robinson demonstrations and now Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments”.
And McDonnell called for a movement that “looks at emulating the work of the Anti Nazi League and Rock Against Racism”. “The ANL was an iconic movement over several decades that successfully combated the far right,” he said.
Today Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are broad-based united fronts that bring together revolutionary socialists, Labour Party members, and trade unionists. SUTR’s president is Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
There was a large turnout from Labour and Momentum groups at recent counter-demonstrations organised by UAF and SUTR. By building on that unity, the left can beat the Nazis.