Anti-racists are taking to the streets to stop Nazi Tommy Robinson becoming an MEP. Socialists, trade unionists, students and other campaigners have faced threats, intimidation and violence at the hands of Robinson and his thug allies as they drum up support.
Robinson is pitching himself as someone who will speak up for ordinary people—but the fascist bully is a threat to everyone in the working class.
This weekend, 18 and 19 May, supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are set to take part in days of action across the region.
Anti-racists have put their stamp on the campaign by handing out tens of thousands of leaflets. And activists are meeting many who come up to take leaflets or ask how they can get involved in the campaign.
“Tommy Robinson is a hate monger,” passerby Daryl told Socialist Worker during a leafletting session in central Manchester.
“I have grandchildren who are mixed race—I don’t want them to live in that sort of world,” he said.
A win for Robinson—or even a large vote—would boost every fascist and racist in Britain. Some are opposing Robinson’s vicious racist campaign because “You have to fight against fascism wherever it is”.
“The fascists across Europe and the US are linked right now” said Vasco, a Portuguese migrant living in Manchester.
He called for everyone to “Demonstrate, get together, and stop them” in the run-up the election—and beyond.
The days of action are an opportunity for a big push before voting takes place the following Thursday.
The campaign has gained support of Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, local Labour MPs, Labour MEP Julie Ward and Len McCluskey of the Unite union.
SUTR has organised mass leafleting sessions of transport hubs, hospitals, mosques, shopping centres and football grounds. Material has been distributed to Constituency Labour Parties and trade union branches across Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.
Robinson is trying to target working class estates and to paint himself as the voice of ordinary people.
When he travelled to Brinnington, Stockport, residents rejected “that Nazi coming on our estate and causing hatred” as “the last thing” they need.
Resident Layla argues that “we all need to vote against him”.
“I don’t want a fascist bully representing me, my family or area. Brinnington is a community with every walk of life and we will come together to stop him” she said.
And SUTR activists said when they organised a mass leafletting in the area they were met with “a fab response” despite intimidation from Robinson’s crew.
Mark said, “A car with Nazis followed us, but we had loads of passerby waving and saying ‘hi’, happy to see us.”
With less than two weeks to go until the election, it’s crucial for all anti-racists to get out onto the streets to campaign to stop Robinson.
Alice Edwards, LGBT+ activist, Warrington, Cheshire
Robinson clearly showed thuggish his behaviour with the attacks in Warrington, when his supporter Danny Tommo broke my nose. If you stand up for LGBT+ people like you claim, why would you call us faggots, like Danny Tommo did to me. And if Robinson gets elected, more attacks will happen and they will be more regular.
His supporters are trying to use the LGBT+ community and it’s important they don’t get away with it. We have an LGBT+ Against Tommy Robinson event in the Gay Village in Manchester this Friday.
It’s quite clear that they don’t care about us— I’ve been telling other people to protest against him wherever he shows up.
And he’s definitely not standing up for working class people—he lives in a mansion, he’s not working class at all.
Manzoor Ali, Food aid worker in Chorlton, Manchester
If Robinson is elected it won’t be long before mosques are burning—and then it will be the synagogues.
We can’t be complacent. Robinson is a racist, an Islamophobe, and just a really nasty piece of work.
If we’re pushed, we have to push back ten times harder. We’ve got to get people out—enough is enough.
Tommy Robinson says he’s on the side of working class people. But I’m an ordinary working class person—and he’s not standing up for me, so he’s lying from the off.
His supporters are fuelled by a hatred of Muslims and Islam. Sometimes Robinson says he’s targeting the ideology not Muslims, but when people look at me I am Islam, I am the ideology.
If Robinson wins, many closet racists would feel that they had been given the green light, because their leader was elected by the people.
If British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin could get elected in 2009, so can Robinson.
He has a bigger name and more powerful backers—including people who support the US government.
I was talking to my friend about when the National Front (NF) were organising in Manchester in the 1970s and ’80s. It took the black community to stand up. When they came out in the riots in 1981, it was the end of the NF.
What Robinson is doing affects Muslims more and Muslims need to step up. The Muslim community now needs to come out and tackle Robinson.
Rabnawaz Akbar, Labour councillor, Rusholme, Manchester
We know that vast majority of people in the North West of England are not racist—so we need to raise awareness and get people to vote on 23 May.
There’s a lot of apathy around the European elections and disgruntlement about how Brexit has been handled. With less people voting, it could increase the proportion of the vote that Robinson gets.
Because of proportional representation, it’s possible to get elected as an MEP on a relatively small number of votes.
We’re especially targeting BME communities to come out—a bit like they did in 2014 when we got rid of Nick Griffin.
Muslim communities already feel vulnerable to Tommy Robinson’s type of politics—especially women who are visibly Muslim because of what they wear.
If Robinson was elected, many Muslims would feel that people they live alongside or work with share his views.
They would feel even more vulnerable—and that is not the type of message we need out of the European elections.
On Sunday Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) was outside Old Trafford football ground for the premier league game between Manchester United and Cardiff.
We were leafleting the fans to encourage them to vote and to denounce Robinson’s politics.
I’m a Labour Party member. And when I’ve been out, I say that I would like people to vote for Labour—but the main thing is they vote.
Vienna Borowska, Love Music Hate Racism, Manchester
If Robinson wins it will embolden people who are prejudiced or have racist views.
And being an MEP would give him a platform and make people feel that what he says is okay.
We’ve had a really great response leafletting against Tommy Robinson at Manchester Piccadilly station.
I got involved with Love Music Hate Racism after hearing about SUTR at a Momentum rally a couple of years ago
It’s not hard to help out. Giving out leaflets might be scary at first—it’s how I found it—and you might get a few “Noes” before someone takes a leaflet.
But I would encourage people to get involved.
Allan Todd, Green Party and Unite Against Fascism member, Keswick, Cumbria
A residual fascist swamp still exists on the west coast of Cumbria—one of the last strongholds for the BNP.
I was at the Allerdale borough council count during the local elections last week and one chap who was in the BNP was elected as an independent candidate.
There’s a danger during this campaign that there will be activity in Manchester, Liverpool and other cities, but not much along the west coast.
We have to be mindful that in 2009 the BNP’s Nick Griffin wouldn’t have been elected if the turnout had been just a little bit higher.
Robinson’s side is prepared to turn out and vote—and they only need around 100,000 votes—and that’s not that many across the whole region.
Although Tommy Robinson is banned from Twitter and Facebook, he’s on alternative social media. We’re not going to get onto the mainstream media. So we need the same things that we did against Griffin—mass leafleting of all the hotspot areas.
Some say we shouldn’t give him the publicity, but he’s got name recognition anyway.
And it’s better to stop him and not let him have a bigger platform.
Tony Wilson, Unison union national executive member for the North West (pc)
Robinson has a violent and racist past with the BNP and EDL.
We were stuck with Griffin for five years after he was elected in 2009. And if Robinson gets elected it will be a boon for the right again.
Whether people voted Leave or Remain, we’ve got to kick racism out of the election.
If you’re a trade unionist, talk to people in your workplace. If you’re in a community group, put stuff up in the notice boards and get on social media.
I’ve been leafleting Manchester Piccadilly station during the past week and we’ve had a good response from people. Some already know about the campaign.
The danger is that he could get elected with just 8 percent of the vote. And Robinson is standing as an independent, so people might not know that he is far right. We’ve got to expose what he stands for.