Socialist Worker

Robinson’s retrial poses threat to all anti-racists

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2622

Previously marginalised, Tommy Robinson is now the figurehead for far right street movements

Previously marginalised, Tommy Robinson is now the figurehead for far right street movements (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists are building opposition ahead of Nazi ­figurehead Tommy Robinson’s retrial on Thursday of next week.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) have called a protest outside the retrial at the Old Bailey in central London.

Robinson declared this week that the “fight for justice” begins on 27 September.

If Robinson wins and is permanently released, every fascist and racist in Britain and internationally will be celebrating.

And if he is sent down again, they will use it as the trigger to try to mobilise large numbers on the streets.

Groups from across the far right, from hardcore Nazis to the racist populists of Ukip, have seized on the “Free Tommy” movement to rebuild their forces.

The racist Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) street movement has called a protest in London for Saturday 13 October.

The DFLA has significantly ­hardened up from its initial mobilisation in London last October which was up to 20,000-strong.

That march was called under the banner of “united against extremism” and, officially, Robinson was treated as unwelcome.

Now he is the group’s main focus—and open racism towards Muslims binds its supporters together. The DFLA’s leaders hope the protest on 13 October will become the focal point for the far right if Robinson is released. SUTR and UAF have called a counter-mobilisation.

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It’s not just the street thugs of the DFLA who are looking to gain. Delegates at Ukip’s national conference in Birmingham on Saturday were set to debate allowing Robinson to join the party.

Under Nigel Farage’s leadership Ukip had an official ban on former members of the Nazi British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL) joining.

As a former BNP member and EDL founder, Robinson is currently barred from membership.

Ukip leader Gerard Batten has backed Robinson joining the party. “My view is that in his case we should make an exception—a one off,” he said.

“Not everyone who has joined the BNP over the years is a bad person.”

This is no one-off.

After Ukip’s wipeout in the local elections, Batten turned to the DFLA and the “Free Tommy” movement in a bid to rebuild the party.

He has repeatedly spoken at ­fascist mobilisations and called on protesters there to join Ukip.

And leading figures of the alt right—which looks to Donald Trump and the US far right—have already joined the party.

This is another sign of the growing sign of the links between the traditional conservative right, the racist populist right and the Nazis.

They are being normalised by the likes of Boris Johnson, who is friendly with Trump’s former advisor and far right ideologue Steve Bannon.

This requires a fight against the far right and the racism of mainstream politicians that fuels it.

And that’s why the national demonstration against racism and fascism in London on 17 November is critical.

Get ready to hit streets on 17 November

Support is growing for the demonstration against racism and fascism in London on Satuday 17 November.

Called by Stand Up to Racism (SUTR), Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, it now has support from leading figures across the labour movement.

These include shadow cabinet ministers Diane Abbott and John McDonnell.

Dave Muritu from the UCU union moved a motion in support of the demonstration at last week’s TUC congress. He said, “The demonstration will send a message to all those young people being drawn in by the far right that it is not acceptable to blame migrants for their problems.

“And it will send a message to politicians that it is not acceptable to use dog?whistle racist policies.”

Over 100 people joined an SUTR public meeting in south London on Wednesday of last week. And supporters of SUTR in Islington, north London, also held a public meeting.

Speakers included author Michael Rosen and Labour councillor Claudia Webbe.

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