Socialist Worker

Tommy Robinson is a fascist threat - join the anti-racist mobilisations

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2623

Supporters of Nazi Tommy Robinson outside his appeal hearing in August

Supporters of Nazi Tommy Robinson outside his appeal hearing in August (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Anti-racists were set to protest at the retrial of Nazi figurehead Tommy Robinson in London on Thursday this week.

The court case marks the beginning of a series of important tests in the battle against the resurgent forces of the British far right.

Supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism across Britain are gearing up for an autumn of mobilisations to confront the new threat.

Robinson’s imprisonment was a lightning rod for the whole of the far right.

He was arrested for filming outside a Leeds court in June and jailed for 13 months. He was trying to use a sexual abuse trial to push the lie that grooming is the preserve of Muslim men.

Whatever the result of the retrial, the far right is likely to use it as an opportunity to mobilise onto the streets.

If Robinson is released, it will boost every fascist and racist in Britain and internationally. US far right ideologue Steve Bannon has thrown his weight behind an organisation called The Movement to try and coordinate the European far right.

It includes people such as Italy’s racist interior minister Matteo Salvini. He threatened to deport 500,000 migrants through a “mass cleansing street by street, quarter by quarter” and to draw up a list of Roma people.

Bannon sees Robinson as a central figure in the far right’s growth across and Europe. And leading members of the “Free Tommy” movement—such as adviser Raheem Kassam—are also connected to The Movement.

The SUTR international conference in London on 20 October is a key opportunity to debate the fightback.

It will bring together anti-racists from the frontline of the fight against fascism, including from Austria and Germany.

Mobilisations

The US far right has already thrown tens of thousands of pounds into the previous “Free Tommy” mobilisations in London. It saw 15,000 rally on Whitehall in June.

Supporters of Robinson will want to mobilise large numbers again if he is released. But if he is not, it doesn’t mean the threat has gone away.

His supporters were incensed last week after Robinson revealed that he is facing a further two charges on top of contempt of court.

Different sections of the far right are looking for opportunities to grow out of the “Free Tommy” movement.

And there are growing links between the traditional right, the racist populists of Ukip and the open Nazis.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance racist street movement has called a protest in London on 13 October. SUTR and Unite Against Fascism have called a counter-mobilisation.

The Ukip conference in Birmingham was supposed to debate a motion letting Robinson become a member.

Its current rules ban former members of the Nazi British National Party and English Defence League from joining.

Ukip leader Gerard Batten wants him in the party but deferred debate for fear of a backlash among more traditional conservative members.

With the far right in flux, anti-racists have to be alive to possibility the far right trying to use different focal points to mobilise support.

And it’s necessary to take on the racism from ­mainstream politicians.

This makes building the national demonstration against racism and fascism in London on 17 November a key task.


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