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EDL fails in second attempt to rally in Waltham Forest
Walthamstow Socialist Party
Socialist Party members from Waltham Forest and across London joined the hundreds-strong protest against the racist English Defence League (EDL) today, 27 October.
Following the successful humiliation of EDL hooligans in Walthamstow by anti-racist protesters and local young people on 1 September, the racists, in an attempt to save face, had vowed to return today, threatening to 'unite the right'. Read about that here.
The massive local campaign against the EDL led to the police banning them from marching and holding a static protest in the borough.
No doubt residents were relieved that this racist, hooligan organisation was not able to bring people into our area to try to spread its racist lies and create division and tension.
But scandalously, the ban against the EDL was also applied to the thousands of local residents, workers and young people who were preparing to come out and march against the racists.
In fact the ban on all protests has been applied to the whole of Waltham Forest for 30 days and stretches to three neighbouring boroughs, Newham, Islington and Tower Hamlets.
On top of that the council had further attempted to demobilise the anti-racist opposition by issuing a letter which said: "We will not allow any counter demonstrations or protests to take place in this area."
In fact the council occupied the area the local anti-racist campaign had planned to use, the town square and another central area, with a funfair policed by council enforcers and security.
Anti-racist protesters setting up stalls in preparation for the protest were harassed and harangued by police and council security.
Scandalously a letter signed by the local Labour MPs, John Cryer and Stella Creasy, who was given an opportunity to speak on the platform of the successful anti-EDL mobilisation on 1 September, jointly with welfare-smashing Tory Iain Duncan, included the line: "We call on everyone who had planned to demonstrate, especially those who have no connection to this borough, to stay away and allow the community to get back to normal", a further attempt to demobilise the opposition to racism among ordinary people.
A huge police presence with hundreds of police and with dogs, horses and dozens of police vans added to the clampdown on the democratic right to protest.
Socialist Party members were angered when the police informed them that they were preparing to allow the EDL to assemble at the town hall if they turned up. Thankfully this did not come to bear.
Labour politicians imposing cuts
The Socialist Party has been part of the local campaign against the EDL's plans to march from the off.
As well as building opposition to the EDL in the trade unions, workplaces, colleges and communities, inside the campaign we have argued against an uncritical platform for Labour politicians who are cutting jobs and services at council level and providing no opposition to austerity at a national level.
The anger and frustration with the council's actions among local people was reflected by some of the speeches from the stage erected in Hoe Street, where anti-racists were allowed a static protest.
Local Labour councillors, who had previously been given a platform by the campaign, then banned its march. Local vicar Stephen Saxby's condemnation of this drew support from the crowd.
Unbelievably Stella Creasy was allowed to speak from the stage despite her attempts to prevent an anti-racist event taking place.
Steve Hedley, RMT union assistant general secretary, made a powerful speech explaining the link between austerity and the rise of the far right.
Steve appealed for support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to build a voice for working class people.
Nancy Taaffe, a local library worker sacked through the cuts and TUSC candidate for Walthamstow in the 2010 general election, added to these points.
She also made it clear that "we must have a political challenge to the lies of austerity and of cuts where the three main political parties have betrayed the working class".
Nancy explained TUSC's plans to put up candidates against the council that had carried through Tory cuts and privatisation, calling on parents fighting academies, workers and trade unionists fighting cuts, to build a "working class alternative to the politics of sell-outs".
Oktay from the Day-Mer Kurdish and Turkish youth organisation made a strong speech calling for workers and young people to unite and build the resistance to racism and fascism, and to austerity.
In the end, less than 50 EDLers, outnumbered by police, held a static protest near Parliament, where they were given permission to do so at one day's notice.
Nonetheless this pathetic show earned the hooligans a video on the websites of the Telegraph and the Evening Standard.
Many bigger demonstrations of the labour movement are completely ignored by the right wing press.
The Socialist Party leaflet distributed on the day called for "a massive, united campaign of working class people that has the power not only to marginalise and smash groupings like the EDL, but to hold out hope in a real future to those small layers of people who might be attracted by them".
It also noted that: "The impressive TUC demo last Saturday 20 October, following the big events of last year (the 26 March TUC demo and 30 November public sector strike), all show that the organised working class in the trade unions has the power to mobilise masses of people in decisive action.
"The trade unions should be at the heart of any fight against the EDL, making it clear that they stand firmly in the interests of defending all sections of our communities against austerity attacks".
Socialists will continue to fight for such a campaign to be built.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 28 October 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.