It was an open secret that Russian far right ultras aimed to fight in the ongoing Euro 2016 tournament in France.
According to the Welsh security chief, the French state knew that they were coming to fight England fans in particular—but failed to act.
Fans’ group leader and associate of Nazis Alexander Shrypgin was part of the Russian delegation, and had official accreditation for the Euros, though he has now been expelled by France.
Igor Lebedev, an MP from the ultra nationalist, Liberal Democratic Party, praised Russian fans’ behaviour as defending the honour of their country.
Acquaintances in Marseille were shocked to see the carefree attitude of the CRS police, even when families were in danger.
Fans were left to fight for themselves, some even being arrested for self defence.
No one would defend the bottle throwing that could hurt innocent passers-by, or those who attack fans from other countries. And certain English hooligans bit off more than they could chew.
But the vast majority of English supporters hadn’t come to fight. They were left to be attacked by the well organised Russian firm.
Now I fear a backlash from some clubs against Ultras.
Ultras come in many shapes and sizes. Egyptian Ultras played a fantastic role in the revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. Some gave their lives.
There are well documented cases of fascist Ultras, but most Ultras will reject the far right.
There has been some great solidarity with those who were attacked by the far right in Marseille.
Fans have launched a donation page for Stewart Gray, who was in a coma after being attacked.
Serious questions need asking of the authorities—and blanket condemnation of Ultras is no answer.
Paul Sillett, East London
All employees at my work received an email from the general manager suggesting they vote to remain in the European Union (EU).
Most felt that the company was overstepping their remit. Others thought they were being bullied.
Others saw through it for what it was. The same bosses who try at every opportunity to cut pay, jobs and benefits are urging for a vote for Remain.
Paul Packham, Chesterfield
There has been a significant, worrying development arising from the referendum campaign.
It has become acceptable to speak out against immigrants in a manner that did not happen to the same extent prior to the campaign.
Anti-immigration views are frequently the first issue on TV, radio and the press. Anti-immigration sentiment has become mainstream.
It has largely been driven by the main Leave campaigns. The pro-refugee Lexit campaign has had no impact on this development.
If, regrettably, the Leave campaign wins it will claim that there is a legitimate democratic mandate for anti-immigrant policies.
It has never been easy to campaign for open borders, but if Leave wins it will get a whole lot harder.
Jim Nichol, North London
John Charlton, Newcastle
Planning this letter I wanted to make a point about the poisonous racism stirred up by both Remain and Leave campaigns in the EU referendum campaign.
The awful murder of Jo Cox MP has shown the danger of stirring up this hate.
The increasing racism coming from both sides of the Tory party is to be expected. But disgracefully it also comes from within the Labour Party and other so-called progressive forces.
Even left wing MP and shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour will “look again” at free movement. He repeated the myth that migration drives down wages.
Pandering to the hostility toward immigration and free movement shows a capitulation to racism.
It does not bode well for a future Labour government following the likely implosion of the Tories after the referendum, regardless of the result.
Claire Chandler, North East London
The case for breaking up the bosses’ club of the EU is strong enough without having to exaggerate.
But the 1979 election of Margaret Thatcher led to a complete drying up of this legislation.
Since then only EU directives forced various governments to introduce key legislation, saving thousands of lives and the health of millions of workers.
Unions have often had to take governments to European courts to force them to introduce minimum EU standards.
The EU can’t be relied on to protect safety. As a European Commission spokesman said, “Social Europe is history.” The EU now has no programme for health and safety.
Both wings of the Tory Party are intent on destroying the legislation and its enforcement.
Workers and unions have a massive job on their hands to stop them.
Socialists arguing for an exit need to appreciate activists’ genuine fears.
John Murphy, Salford
I read with interest your article on the coming Spanish general election (Socialist Worker online).
The PP in the Spanish state is just as bad as the Tories—totally corrupt. Hopefully this election will see a government for the people and not the rich.
Ian Connon, on Facebook
The mainstream media and politicians seem to have two stereotypes about Albania.
One is that it’s a uniquely violent and corrupt society basically run by gangsters.
The other is that anyone saying they need to flee from there and seek asylum must be lying. Surely they can’t have it both ways?
Sam Dyson, Peterborough
This is a minor, picky point—please can we stop using the phrase “up to” in reports, as in “Up to 50 people attended…”?
“Up to 50” could mean two, couldn’t it?
I’m not asking for comrades to carry out precise headcounts, but if “up to 50” actually means 30-odd or 40-odd, it’d be more useful to know that.
Ben Drake, York
I’m in France to watch the Euros. There must be thousands of TV journalists here reporting on the matches—and the unfortunate violence.
But I don’t understand why they don’t turn their cameras around and film the strikes. They must not want you to see workers fighting back.
Marina Saxby, Lille, France
If Jo Cox MP’s killer had shouted “Allahu Akbar” not “Britain First” I bet the media, police and politicians would have treated it differently!
Lou Laurence, Inverness
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