Campaigners were out to stop Nazi Tommy Robinson in the European elections right up to the vote on Thursday.
Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) have mobilised against Robinson’s thuggish campaign in the North West of England. They have united Labour Party members, revolutionary socialists, trade unionists and students across the region.
Around 150 young Muslims confronted Robinson supporters in Oldham last Saturday chanting, “Nazi scum off our streets”.
Abdel, a Muslim Defence League supporter whose name we’ve changed, told Socialist Worker, “The objective was to get Tommy Robinson out of Oldham.
“For him to pack up after 45 minutes was a brilliant victory for our side.”
One witness to the confrontation told Socialist Worker, “Some people came out of their houses to support the Muslims and one of them had a placard saying, ‘No to Islamophobia’.”
The confrontation came after a SUTR and UAF day of action that saw protests and leafleting across the region. Campaigners delivered tens of thousands of leaflets in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle in Cumbria, Crewe in Cheshire and Preston in Lancashire.
Around 40 people joined a protest in Heywood, Rochdale, where Robinson was holding a lunchtime rally. He picked the area because it was the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal that saw cops and authorities fail victims.
Robinson talks of “Muslim grooming gangs” to push the racist lie that Muslim or Asian culture is to blame for sexual abuse.
His rally at The Heywood pub attracted around 100 people, including hardened racists and some local residents. Supporters said they were backing Robinson because of “grooming gangs” and “wanting to live in a British country”.
Robinson, a middle class businessman, claims he is standing up for the “left behind” and is targeting working class estates.
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. He says turn on other working class people.”
Proportional representation and low turnout means Robinson could win a seat in the North West.
A warning came in Merseyside on Sunday. Hundreds of people outnumbered Robinson supporters in Bootle and there was support for a broad-based counter?protest in Huyton later in the day.
But around 300 people did join his rally in Huyton.
Robinson is a Nazi whose aim remains to build a violent street movement.
He must be stopped.
The Methodist Central Hall in Manchester was a hub of activity last Saturday 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.
“He would become the go-to racist person for the media like Nigel Farage is now.”
At the same time around 35 people joined a leafleting session in Oldham, including Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.
Ameen, a Unison union member, told Socialist Worker, “We had a generally good reception.
“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 that went viral last Friday.
Paul was one of those campaigning in Liverpool last Saturday where activists 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.”
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.”
Yunus, a socialist and SUTR activist from the north east, 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.”
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” and “our trade union colleagues”.
The unions have supported the SUTR campaign and paid for tens of thousands of leaflets to be distributed across the region.
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