Socialist Worker

Anti-racist forum calls on people to step up the fight against the racists

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2657

Activists came to London to debate the way forward in the fight against racism

Activists in London debated the way forward in the fight against racism (Pic: Jo Holland)


Anti-racists are debating how to take on the far right in the wake of the European elections

Up to 100 people joined a public forum, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), in central London on Saturday. A similar number came to a regional summit organised by SUTR and the West Midlands TUC union federation in Birmingham on the same day. 

They celebrated the trouncing of Nazi Tommy Robinson, Ukip and other far right candidates in the European elections last month. 

A big cheer went up at the forum when Nahella Ashraf from Manchester SUTR talked about how activists stopped Robinson becoming the MEP for the North West. She said, "Isn't it great that we smashed the poster boy of the far right?"

But Nahella warned that the "fantastic result" in the North West "wasn't the case everywhere".

"Nigel Farage is a racist—he might not be a fascist, but he is a racist," she said. 

How to take on Farage and the Brexit Party was a recurring question at the forum in London. It topped the poll, with 33 percent of the vote, after being founded at the beginning of the year. 

Farage has presented himself as a democrat standing up against an Establishment that has betrayed Leave voters. He hasn't published any policies, apart from supporting Brexit, and has not focused on immigration, unlike when he was the leader of Ukip. 

Strengthen

Yet the aim of Farage and others at the head of the Brexit Party is to strengthen the right.

Unmesh Desai, a Labour member of the London Assembly, said it would be "dangerous stupidity" to brand everyone who voted Leave as a racist.

"Where we fail to to put forward a positive answer, that's where racism and fascism grow," he said.

He argued that the Labour council in Barking and Dagenham had helped to stem support for the Brexit Party. Labour came first in the borough in east London, which voted by 63 percent to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum.

But the Brexit Party still came second with 11,014 votes to the Labour Party's 15,449 votes.

Other speakers argued that activists had to focus on and challenge the racism of Farage.

Polls show that some working class people did vote for Brexit Party. But Socialist Worker's reports from Brexit Party rallies show that the base is made up of more convinced Farage fans, middle class former Tory supporters, and those who agree with the scapegoating of migrants. 

Expose

Paul Holborow from SUTR in Islington in north London said that anti-racists will have to "target Farage forensically" to expose his agenda. "We have to probe him all the time," he said. "What did he say about about people not speaking English on trains? 

"What about his relationship with Donald Trump, the arch racist, the arch homophobe, the arch climate change denier?"

The conference heard from a number of international speakers, including from Italy and the Spanish state. 

It also came ahead of a planned state visit by Donald Trump.

His visit could boost the new right wing threats here. 

Speaking outside the White House on Thursday, Trump described Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson and Farage in glowing terms.

“Nigel Farage is a friend of mine, Boris is a friend of mine. They're two very good guys, very interesting people,” he said.

Weyman Bennett, SUTR co-convenor, called on people to join the protests against Trump's visit next week. "Racism comes from the top," he said. 

"It's no accident that Trump and Farage were pictured in a golden lift together.

"But we can break these people—we need everyone out against Trump."

Join the protests against Trump next week. For more details go here.

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