Anti-racists in Batley, West Yorkshire, came on to the streets to oppose the far right on Saturday. They outnumbered a small mobilisation in support of fascist candidates standing in the Batley and Spen by-election.
Fascist Tommy Robinson who was expected to turn up was nowhere to be seen.
The handful of fascists were met by 250 anti-fascists from Stand Up To Racism, Muslim groups and trade unions.
As they marched, the protesters chanted, “From the Pennines to the sea, Yorkshire will be fascist free,” and “Where’s your Tommy gone?”
The march travelled down Batley High Street before returning to the town hall where they held a minute’s silence for murdered MP, Jo Cox.
Local school students Joseph and Jacob told Socialist Worker, “Tommy Robinson and his supporters are fascists. He was embarrassed in the North West election in 2019. The same will happen to his co-thinkers in Batley.
“We’re here to spread awareness and show the importance of opposing Nazis.
“Globally the far right is rising and it’s up to us to make sure they don’t gain power.”
Huge numbers of police separated the anti-racists from the far right rabble.
Stand Up To Racism activist Nathan said, “The goal of the Nazis is to smash the working class unity that is present on this counter-protest. We need every worker to support Stand Up To Racism.
“The fascist candidates—Anne Marie Waters and Jayda Fransen—hope to spread and thrive off the bitterness surrounding this by-election.”
Addressing the crowd, the president of Leeds Trades Council, Jane Aitchinson said, “Almost five years ago to this day Jo Cox was murdered by a fascist.
“We say, ‘Never again’. We’ll stamp out the fascists whenever they rear their head.
Other speakers highlighted how shameful it was that the far right mobilised outside Jo Cox House, a local children’s charity built in her honour.
Ziyaad, a student in Batley told Socialist Worker, “This is my first protest in Batley, this unity is great, it was a beautiful march.
“Racists in the election will be outnumbered by us. It’s great that we have outnumbered them massively today.”
Megan Povey from Leeds UCU union told Socialist Worker, “I’m proud my union supports Stand Up To Racism and events like this. It’s how we weaken the fascists.
“A strong anti-racist core in our unions is the defence against racism at work. Anti-racism must be fixed in social movements as well.”
The protest created a reaction around the town with people applauding and filming from their windows.
Local shop worker Al told Socialist Worker, “I haven’t seen anything like this before.
“It’s great to see how many people take racism seriously. Racism is something I’ve suffered in Batley so it’s great to see that there are people willing to take a stand against that.”
Roger from Kirklees Stand Up To Racism told the crowd, “Let’s hope the far right racist candidates now realise that Batley doesn’t want to be peddled with hatred from wannabe politicians.”
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