By Socialist Worker reporters
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Tens of thousands on the march against racism and fascism

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Issue 2631
Unity against racism and fascism
Unity against racism and fascism (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday to oppose racism and fascism. Trade unionists, Labour Party members, Brazilians, Muslims, councillors, socialists, Palestine campaigners and others all joined the march.

Stand Up To Racism, which jointly organised the march with Unite Against Fascism, said 40,000 took part.

It showed the sort of fighting unity we need against the lies and the division peddled by the racists and the far right. It was a powerful sign of the willingness to resist racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Maria Morris came as part of the Brazilians Against Fascism group. “I’m from Brazil where Jair Bolsonaro has just been elected,” she told Socialist Worker. “He’s a religious fundamentalist, he’s a racist, he’s homophobic. He is our Trump.

“We need to fight these people everywhere.”

Becky, a student from York, told Socialist Worker, “The far right has been building under the radar.

“We need to do something sooner rather than later,” she said, urging people not to “just wait for the next government to make changes.”

Two Romani protesters said they were there “to protest against racism towards Romani and gypsy people”.

Loud chants of, “Say it loud, say it clear—refugees are welcome here!” rang out throughout the  demonstration, particularly from the lively student section.

Part of the student section of the march
Part of the student section of the march (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Riccardo La Torre, regional secretary of the Eastern region of the Fire Brigades Union told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been building anti-racist activity in the union. We want to carry on a proud tradition of standing up to ideologies that harm working people.

“It’s part of standing up for the communities we serve against the crap espoused by the likes of Tommy Robinson.

“They say services are overstretched and wages are low because of migrants. We’ve been on enough picket lines to know that it isn’t a Polish plumber or local Muslims that are responsible – it’s Tory policies.

“Allowing them to divide us with racism distracts us from the real issues.

“Tommy Robinson claims to speak for working class people. But after Grenfell he blamed migrants for the fire.

“It showed their true colours.”

Claudia Webbe, a member of the Labour Party national executive, told the rally at the end of the march, “We need a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government as soon as possible,” she said.

However she added, “When we as Labour get in power we don’t stop standing up against racism.”

Many trade unionists were on the march
Many trade unionists were on the march (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said, “This march is one of the most important we’ve had in years.

“We live in exciting times but we also live in dangerous times.

“Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. These people are trying to make the most vile views respectable. We have to keep these views in the gutter.

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“In fighting racism we also need to fight austerity and for jobs and homes.

“The labour movement welcomes everyone in this country except fascists and racists”

A message of support cane from shadow home secretary Diane Abbott. It said, “The far right is on the rise in a way we thought was condemned to the dustbin of history.

“We need a movement that will challenge Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.”

And in response to Bannon saying he wears the description racist as a badge of honour, she said, “Everyone should wear a Stand Up To Racism badge. We have the only badge of honour in Britain.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “To Stephen Yaxley-Lennon [Tommy Robinson] I say this. You do not stand for my working class which has always rejected and fought against the racist filth that you spout.

“If you come for our Muslim brothers and sisters you come for all of us and we will resist you.

We need more protests and a stronger anti-racist movement
We need more protests and a stronger anti-racist movement (Pic: Neil Terry)

Matt Wrack from the firefighters’ FBU union said, “Unity is the founding principle of our movement. Anything that stands in the way of our unity must be driven off our streets.

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Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU union said, “You see the racism in Tommy Robinson and the DFLA. But you also have to see it in mainstream politics.

Weyman Bennett, co-convenor of SUTR said, “We have a job to do. We stopped Tommy Robinson last time and we will stop him again.

“They have Bolsonaro, and Trump and the AfD in Germany. But we’ve got the numbers and determination. We will have unity and solidarity to beat them.”

This march was a big step forward in the battle against Tory racism and the far right threat from Tommy Robinson and his supporters.

It has to be followed by more action, organisation of SUTR at local level and in workplaces, and resistance to Robinson and his crew whenever they seek to organise or march.

We can’t rely on Labour which has a terrible record of fighting racism both in office and often when in opposition.

Because capitalism and racism are intertwined, the fight against the system must have anti-racism at its centre. And to tear out the rots of racism we need to get rid of capitalism.

Socialist Worker has two reports from earlier in the day here and here.

Banners on the march

Dozens of trade union banners came from the Unite, UCU, FBU, Unison, NEU, RMT, Bfawu, NUJ, NASUWT, Usdaw and Equity unions, while huge balloons from the CWU, UCU and Unison towered over the march.  

Labour Party banners included: Brent Central, Tower Hamlets, Wimbledon, Harlow Young Labour, Gipsy Hill, Croydon, Ealing, Hackney South and Shoreditch, Dulwich and West Norwood BAME, Southwark, Islington North, Newham Labour group, North Swindon, Leyton and Wanstead, West Walthamstow, Moseley and King’s Heath, Haringey and Wood Green. 

Was your trade union or Labour banner there and we missed it? Please email [email protected] and we will add it in.

Stand Up To Racism diary

Saturday 24 November: SUTR support for St Andrew’s Day anti-racist demonstration called by the Scottish TUC. 10.30am Glasgow Green

Saturday 8/ Sunday 9 December: Winter refugee solidarity convoy to Calais

Saturday 8 December: Stand Up To Racism M16 mobilising meeting

Sunday 27 January: Holocaust Memorial Day

Saturday 16 February: Student Stand Up To Racism Conference

Saturday 23 February: Stand Up To Racism Trade Union Conference

Saturday 16 March: UN anti-racism day protests in Britain and internationally

For details go here 

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