Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/609/8744
Far right thugs invade Stoke
FOR A few hours on Saturday 23 January areas of Stoke-on-Trent city centre were turned into a battleground as English Defence League supporters fought with police and at times among themselves. 17 EDL demonstrators were arrested for racial and religious public order offences, only two of these were from Stoke-on-Trent.
Most of the 1,500 EDL 'protesters' were bussed in, to whip up racial tension and division on our streets. Earlier in the day racist graffiti was daubed on a Mosque.
The fact that Stoke-on-Trent has seven BNP councillors and is seen by the BNP as their "jewel in the crown" was undoubtedly used to maximise the EDL turnout. However, the city centre was almost empty as local people ignored their protest, with many shops closing early because they had no customers.
For years city centre pub JD Wetherspoons has thrown out people for singing or wearing football tops but welcomed the EDL, benefiting financially from the three hours many spent getting tanked up before trying to spread their message of racism and division.
Wetherspoons area manager defended this decision, incredibly stating that: "We did not have any choice in the matter. The EDL told us members would be coming to the pub before the demonstration and that we had to deal with that".
Why also are many local young people stopped from innocently wearing hoods in parts of the city centre while the EDL are allowed to strut around wearing military style balaclavas? This whilst some EDL members were carrying placards calling for a ban on the Burka!
Over 400 joined a disciplined counter demonstration organised by North Staffs Campaign Against Racism & Fascism (NorScarf) and Unite Against Fascism.
There was a good mix of black, white and Asian and it was predominantly made up of young people. Some had travelled from other areas but we estimate that more than half were local people. Our march, in total about two miles into the city centre to a rally, was noisy and very lively.
Stoke Socialist Party members played an important part in building for the counter-demo. Our banner was the only political banner on it and we gave out hundreds of leaflets which crucially put forward serious demands to deal with the root causes of racism and fascism.
Stoke Socialist party members
In The Socialist 27 January 2010:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
Workplace Feature: IT workers in mini strike wave