Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/686/12825
Jobs, homes and services, not racism
Matt Gordon, Bristol
On Saturday 3 September, Youth Fight For Jobs participated in the counter-demonstration against the English Defence League's (EDL) plan to intimidate the community of Tower Hamlets. United action prevented them from marching in the borough.
Undoubtedly the racist EDL have felt emboldened by the recent scapegoating of 'black culture'. In response to the August rioting, the UK government has even appointed American 'supercop' Bill Bratton as an adviser citing his 'zero tolerance' response to the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
The riots in Los Angeles were sparked in response to the acquittal of policemen involved in the brutal beating of black construction worker Rodney King.
The early 1990s was a time of economic recession and increased racist attacks with the growth of far-right political parties such as the British National Party (BNP).
It was against this background that Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) was founded in October 1992, marked by an international demonstration against racism and fascism in Brussels. YRE was a democratic campaign founded and led by young people and supported by the Socialist Party (at that time called Militant Labour).
The campaign explained the real causes of racism in a capitalist society and posed a socialist alternative, summed up by slogans such as 'jobs and homes, not racism'.
Following the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993, YRE co-organised an 8,000-strong demonstration of black and white youth which marched on the BNP's head quarters in Welling, south east London.
This movement grew and in 1994 there was another demo of 50,000 co-organised by YRE which proved to be the turning point in the successful campaign to shut down the BNP HQ.
The BNP were also successfully driven out of their regular paper sale spot in Tower Hamlets that year thanks to a dedicated campaign spearheaded by YRE.
We need a mass campaign today to defeat racism and prevent the 'divide and conquer' tactics of the ruling class.
In The Socialist 21 September 2011:
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