The different forces of the British fascist and racist right rallied in Whitehall, central London, on Sunday.
Around 4,000 racists joined the “free speech” rally called by the fascist former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson after he was banned from Twitter.
The racist Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), who brought the largest numbers, had marched to join the rally.
It was a magnet for every fascist and racist in Britain—and should be a warning for the whole left.
There were hardcore fascist elements, with “Infidel” T-shirts and EDL flags, and a section attacked a counter-protest organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) in Whitehall.
Many others waved British Union, Loyalist and English flags.
And there was a heavy presence of Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hats, “Don’t Tread on Me Flags” and a delegation of the US far right Anti Communist Action group.
Apart from Robinson the biggest cheers went Milo Yiannoupolous, who had flown in from the US to deliver a 20 minute sexist rant.
Robinson said, “The people of this country have been silenced for 20-30 years with the tag of racists. They have managed to silence people so that they are too scared to speak up when they see things that are wrong.
“They now realise that that tag is dead: no one cares anymore with being labelled racists.”
It felt like a US presidential-style rally for Robinson, ending in a rendition of God Save the Queen. He clearly sees an opportunity to regroup the forces of the far right after the EDL was reduced to a rump.
Most dangerously, the “free speech” rally brought together the fascists and Ukip. People in the crowd waved Ukip flags and members of their youth section with party pin badges were dotted through the crowd.
The DFLA, which has been increasingly working with Ukip leaders, is acting as the bridge between the two. After their wipeout in the local elections in England last week, the Ukip leadership see the DFLA as an opportunity to rebuild their base.
Ukip leader Gerard Batten whipped the crowd up with Islamophobia and by playing to antisemitic themes. He claimed that an “alliance of the far left and big international business” was behind “political correctness” and a drive for a “globalist system controlled by an elite”.
Batten then turned his ire towards Muslims claiming that the “elephant in the room was Islam” and that “we have imported into Western civilisation a dark age ideology”.
He added, “If you want to defend your country then you have to organise politically.
“You can have a march of thousands of people like you’ve had today, there were marches before and did they change anything? No.
“I would like you to join Ukip.”
Anne Marie Waters, leader of the far right For Britain party, also railed against “Islam” and “cultural Marxism” to loud applause directly after Batten. She was previously deemed too Islamophobic for Ukip.
Anti-racists have to take the threat of the far right regrouping seriously. At the 400-strong SUTR and UAF demo Gary McFarlane from North London told the rally, “The DFLA and Tommy Robinson say they want free speech.
“But what they really want is the right to intimidate people and encourage racist attacks.
“The National Front in the 1970s had the same aim.
“Black youth and trade unionists and the left and anti-racists confronted them on the streets in large numbers and there was intense campaigning against them.
“That is why the NF were defeated.”
Annette, a student from east London, told Socialist Worker, “I am angry about the treatment of the Windrush Generation but I also now we have to take on these fascists as well as the Tories. The government’s policies feed these people, and then they go even further. We have to take them on.”
It’s important that trade unions backed the demonstration with Homerton hospital Unison, Portsmouth trades council, Lambeth NUT/NEU, Islington NUT/NEU, Redbridge NUT/NEU, London Magazine NUJ, UCU London, Lambeth Unison, RMT LGBT members, Oxfordshire health Unison, Portsmouth City Unison and other banners at the demonstration.
But we will need bigger numbers when the original FLA marches in Manchester on 19 May, and the DFLA takes to the streets in the same city on 2 June.
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