Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 12 June 2013

Far-right EDL march in Sheffield: class-based response needed

Sam Morecroft and Chaz Lockett
A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013,, photo Paul Mattsson

A small group of BNP supporters gathered heavily out-numbered by anti-BNP protestors in London's Whitehall , 1 June 2013,, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

On 8 June as many as 2,000 local people turned out to oppose the far-right English Defence League (EDL) marching in Sheffield.

In a national mobilisation 500-600 EDL supporters were desperate to expunge their humiliation the week before, when anti-racists stopped them entering Barkers Pool in Sheffield city centre.

The EDL were cynically exploiting the death of Lee Rigby, killed in Woolwich in May, to stir up racism and division.

But their mobilisation was vastly outnumbered by trade unionists, students and young people in a strong display of unity against racism.

The most visible street force, however, was the police. 1,000 officers were there from eight counties and police refused to allow counter-protesters to enter Barkers Pool and confront the racists.

Disrupt the EDL's plans

The police could not clear a route through protesters for the EDL the previous Saturday, and were determined to obstruct any attempts to confront the far right.

But with the huge number opposing the EDL, it would still have been possible to disrupt the EDL's plans.

However, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and One Sheffield Many Cultures made it far easier for the police to protect the EDL march.

Less than 24 hours before the march, they ditched demonstration plans, calling instead for a street party some way away. This dashed any possibility of a serious, organised opposition to the EDL.

Most activists were dismayed at the change and many tried to gain access to the square. But these alterations meant they entered Barkers Pool at different times and from different directions.

The police could stop them getting through, and the anti-racist mobilisation became divided around the city.

Under the SWP leadership the UAF fails to raise the need for a positive, class-based alternative to the far-right.

It insists on giving a platform to councillors carrying out draconian cutbacks to working class communities without any opportunity for anti-cuts activists to raise criticism. This approach will not provide a lead for militant, working class anti-racism.

Socialist Party members had many positive discussions with people keen to confront the EDL, and remain determined to argue for building genuine class-based anti-racist organisations.

Nazi-style salutes

As EDL marchers entered a fenced-off area around the War Memorial to lay their wreath, the EDL raised a Nazi-style salute, with outstretched arm and Churchill's 'V' sign, to the memorial dedicated to those who died fighting in World War Two.

After they had been allowed to lay their wreath and were ushered back to the starting point of their route, some running battles between police, pockets of EDL and anti-racists broke out across the city.

Anti-racists and local youth prevented EDL members from entering Broomhall, an area with a significant Somali population. Outnumbered, the EDL were eventually driven away or kettled by police.

If the UAF had not bowed to pressure to turn the protest into a 'celebration of multiculturalism', another humiliation could have been inflicted on the EDL, further shattering their ridiculous claims to represent Britain's 'forgotten working class'.

Instead, chants of 'Whose streets? Our streets!' rang hollow.

Anti-racist activity must expose the EDL's lies and show a way to fight austerity. Working people are disgusted at their current situation with living standards under attack in Foodbank Britain.

We must show that the cause of this misery is not immigrants or Muslims, mostly in similar or worse situations to ourselves.

Our enemies are the bankers, tax-avoiding fat cats, the Tories who are gutting public services and Labour councils smashing local libraries, children's centres and youth services.

Confronting the EDL also requires building a mass, fighting, class-based political alternative to austerity and the system that breeds it.

Muswell Hill, London

Socialist Party members attended an emergency protest called less than 24 hours after the EDL-linked arson attack on the community centre in Muswell Hill, north London. Hundreds, many from the local area, attended this vigil.

The centre mainly serves the Somali population in the area, including hosting Islamic religious events.

John Reid, RMT union transport regional secretary, spoke about the need for working class opposition to racism and to austerity, which can lay the basis for division. John got a great response. Socialist Party leaflets and placards went down very well.

Ben Robinson

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 12 June 2013:

G8 Summit protest

No to G8 austerity

Big brother is watching you

National Shop Stewards Network

Build for mass anti-cuts action

Socialist Party editorial

Labour crosses the Rubicon - again

Socialist Party news and analysis

How students beat unfair attendance policy

Far-right EDL march in Sheffield: class-based response needed

After Woolwich killing: Time for unions to lead anti-racist fight

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Falkirk West: Labour bureaucracy blocks left Unite union candidate

Brighton: Green council continues to carry out Con-Dem cuts

Southamption byelection: On the TUSC Against Cuts campaign trail

Historic event as Tamils and trade unions forge vital links

Socialist Party workplace news

Mid Yorks health workers win important concessions

College lecturers strike against redundancies

MoJ privatisation victory + rolling strikes across civil service

Scotland: Council workers strike ballot

Teachers vote for action on workload and pensions

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Syria threatens sectarian middle east war

Fightback continues in Turkey

Unison conference

Unison conference - time to reclaim the union

Unison NEC elections - Socialist Party position strengthened

Socialist Party review

Panorama: Blacklist Britain


Home   |   The Socialist 12 June 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleDemonstrators see off far-right in Keighley

triangleRacist EDL humiliated for third time

triangleFar right humiliated in London - but trade unions must organise against racism and austerity

triangleYork University: socialists prevent far-right hate speech

triangleNewcastle: Socialist Party defies ban to counter the far-right


triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!


triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleJoin the Orgreave Halloween rally

triangleOrgreave campaign calls Halloween rally


triangleProtest outside Ukip conference against German far-right speaker

triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance


triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?


triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay


Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?



Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni


Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers



Balloting members on the pay cap



'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future



Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP



Uprising to save the NHS!



Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?


East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!


North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses



Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems



Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now



Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice