Socialist Worker

Anti-racists take on far right Steve Bannon in Edinburgh and Oxford

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2631

Outside the Edinburgh exhibition centre

Outside the Edinburgh Exchange (Pic: Scotland SUTR/Twitter)


Anti-racists are taking on far right ideologue Steve Bannon’s attempts to whip up racism in Britain.

Over 100 supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) protested outside the Exchange centre in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon.

And anti-racists in Oxford plan to protest on Friday.

Tara McCarthy, the City of Edinburgh Unison union international officer, slammed the BBC and European Broadcasting Union for inviting Bannon to speak at the News Xchange journalism conference.

“They are seriously misguided by suggesting that his appearance offers an opportunity to challenge his views,” she said.

“They have provided a platform to a vicious individual whose views will regrettably resonate with a tiny minority who subscribe to his race-hate agenda.”

Bannon was the chief counsellor to Donald Trump, who was forced to sack him after the fascist murder at Charlottesville. He is now trying to coordinate fascist and far right parties across Europe.

They are feeding off the state-sponsored racism pushed by politicians and the press who are legitimising their views in wider society.

Scottish National Party (SNP) first minister Nicola Sturgeon pulled out of the News Xchange conference last month. She said she would “not be part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far-right views.”

Pressure from anti-racists forced the Oxford Union university society to withdraw an invitation to Alice Weidel. She is the parliamentary leader of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The Oxford Union then invited Bannon to speak this Friday.

Rising

Supporters of SUTR and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) in Oxford plan to protest outside. Rosita Ellis, chair of Unison south east region black members’ group, said, “We face a rising tide of racism.

“The Oxford Union is making a bad situation worse by inviting racists like Steve Bannon to speak.

“Everyone opposed to racism should protest against this invitation”.

There are growing links between the fascist, racist populist and fascist parties in Britain and Europe. Ian Mckendrick from Oxford SUTR said, “Bannon is attempting to build an Islamophobic international of far-right groups.

“And he is looking to fascist Tommy Robinson here in Britain as a key figure for his movement.”

Ukip leader Gerrard Batten wrote a letter to his party members on Tuesday saying he would clear the way for Nazi Tommy Robinson join the party.

Batten will put forward a motion to Ukip’s national executive on Sunday proposing a members’ ballot on Robinson joining. 

The racist populist Ukip has a blanket ban on members of the fascist British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League from joining. Robinson was a member of the BNP and founder of the EDL.

Under Batten’s leadership Ukip has tried to appeal to the far right.

These developments underline the need to build opposition to the fascists, racists and state-sponsored racism that fuels it. The national demonstration against racism and fascism in London this Saturday is a key opportunity to do that.


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