Socialist Worker

Anti-racists take to the streets against fascist Tommy Robinson

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2655

Campaigning in Crewe

Campaigning in Crewe


Anti-racists organised a big push to stop Nazi Tommy Robinson and the racist Ukip party on Saturday.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) called the day of action ahead of the European elections on Thursday of next week. It saw Labour Party members, revolutionary socialists, trade unionists, students and campaigners unite across the North West, where Robinson is standing for the European parliament.

They distributed tens of thousands of leaflets.

Young Muslims also confronted Robinson supporters in Oldham, chanting “Nazi scum off our streets” and defying his thugs. Robinson’s group were clearly dismayed by the experience.

One witness to the confrontation told Socialist Worker, "The fascists threw beer cans and some of the Muslim young people threw eggs back. 

"One person, wearing a Britain First rosette, started shouting Islamophobic abuse.

"Some people came out of their houses to support the Muslims and one of them had a placard saying 'No to Islamophobia'."

Anti-racists were out in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle in Cumbria, Crewe in Cheshire and Preston in Lancashire.

The Methodist Central Hall in Manchester was a hub of activity from the morning as activists came from other areas to help campaign in the city centre.

Tom, a Labour Party member from Scarborough, told Socialist Worker, “We don’t want to see dangerous people like Tommy Robinson elected.

“It would give him a foothold and allow him to look ‘mainstream’. Tommy Robinson would become the go-to racist person for the media like Nigel Farage is now.”

A win for Robinson would give confidence to every fascist and racist to go on the attack. CWU union postal worker Saf Khan told Socialist Worker, “I’m really worried about Tommy Robinson’s Islamophobia.

“If he was elected, it would be dangerous for us all, it would give people another bandwagon to jump on to be racist.”

On the streets in Oldham

On the streets in Oldham


Protests and mass leafleting took place in outlying towns, including in Heywood where Robinson was holding a lunchtime rally. Around 40 people joined the anti-racist counter-protest, supported by the local Labour Party and SUTR.

Robinson picked in the area of Rochdale because it was the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal that saw cops and authorities fail victims. He talks of “Muslim grooming gangs” to push the racist lie that Muslim or Asian culture is to blame for sexual abuse.

The truth about Tommy Robinson
Socialist Worker's dossier on Tommy Robinson
  Read More

His rally at The Heywood pub attracted around 100, including both hardened supporters and local residents. Supporters said they were supporting him because of “grooming gangs” and “wanting to live in a British country”.

Robinson, a middle class businessman, is trying to pose as standing up for the “left behind” and is targeting working class estates. A video at the rally said Britain is run by people who “don’t live the same lives as us”.

A warning came last week when 200 people joined a Robinson rally on the Norley Estate in Wigan, including people who came out of their houses.

Angela, a Labour member, has been campaigning against Robinson in Heywood and nearby Middleton. “Tommy Robinson tells working class people that he’s one of us,” she told Socialist Worker.

“Some of the language he uses about the establishment seems similar to the left, but we say turn on the establishment. They say turn on other working class people”.

CWU union members campaigning in Manchester

CWU union members campaigning in Manchester (Pic: @antiracismday on Twitter)


Andrew, constituency Labour Party trade union liaison officer, said Labour had to stand up to austerity and neoliberalism. “Tommy Robinson is exploiting people’s anger and putting them onto immigrants,” he told Socialist Worker.

“We have to show working class people that we’re on their side with actions, not just words”.

He added, “We can’t let the fascists gain a foothold.”

Around 20 people leafleted against Robinson in Crewe, Cheshire. Jerry, a socialist and SUTR activist, told Socialist Worker, “Crewe has seen better days so it’s not surprising people are hacked off.

“Four of Robinson’s lot showed up to try to intimidate us, but they slunk off and lot of people were congratulating us for being there.”

Leafleting

At the same time around 35 people joined a leafleting, including Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner in Oldham. Ameen, a Unison union member, told Socialist Worker, “We had a generally good reception from people on the street.

“People love the video of ‘megaphone man’.” This was a reference to a video of SUTR North West organiser Paul Jenkins shouting down Robinson in Barrow-on-Furness which went viral on Friday. He repeatedly chanted, “Tommy is a Nazi” about his former membership of the Nazi British National Party (BNP).

Paul was one of those campaigning in Liverpool on Saturday where activists, including Labour Party and CWU union members, leafleted across the city centre. He told Socialist Worker, “The majority of people hate Tommy Robinson and the fascists.

“But a lot of people aren’t aware that there’s an election or the small share of votes Robinson needs to get to get elected.

“Once you say that to people, they are motivated to vote against Robinson.”

United in Heywood

United in Heywood (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Activists distributed 8,000 leaflets in the city and also at a Labour Party rally in nearby Bootle, where Jeremy Corbyn pledged to take on the far right.

A combination of proportional representation and low turnout means Robinson could win one of the eight seats in the North West. BNP leader Nick Griffin won with just over 132,000 votes in 2009 in a constituency of around 5 million people.

Yunus, a socialist and SUTR North East activist, joined around a dozen people leafleting in Carlisle. He told Socialist Worker, “For all the people who might be convinced by him, a much larger group of people know the truth about him.

Meanwhile, SUTR campaigned against Ukip and in particular its candidate Carl Benjamin in Bristol and Swindon. The Police are investigating the alt-right YouTube personality—known as “Sargon of Akkad”—for saying he “might” rape Labour MP Jess Phillips.

Benjamin is second on Ukip’s list of candidates in the South West, where the party won two MEPs in the last European elections.

The day of campaigning in the North West finished with a rally in Manchester. Speakers included Labour mayor Andy Burnham, Labour MEP Julie Ward and Michael Bradley from the SUTR national office.

Burnham said he thanked “in particular Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism” for taking on the “the threat to our values and our democracy”.

And he slammed Robinson for trying to exploit the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017. “He tried to turn most of city against Muslim community—that is what this individual is all about,” said Burnham.

“We showed him the door and we won’t let him back”.

Anti-racists have to go all out to make sure Nazi Robinson and Ukip are stopped. That is important in itself, but will will be a blow against the racism and Islamophobia that boost Nigel Farage and The Brexit Party.

Join the campaigns. Go to SUTR on Facebook here

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