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Scottish Defence League defeated: Working class political alternative urgently needed
THE SCOTTISH Defence League (SDL) tried to carry out a major show of strength in Edinburgh on Saturday 20 February, but it ended in farce and humiliation for the fascists and racists.
Philip Stott, CWI Scotland
The SDL claimed their number would be boosted by the English and Welsh Defence Leagues (EDL and WDL) who would join them in Edinburgh, but no more than 50 managed to turn out.
More than 300 anti-fascists, many organised through the Edinburgh anti-fascist alliance, and including members of the International Socialists (CWI in Scotland) and the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign, made their way to the Royal Mile. The SDL were holed up in a pub there, a few yards from the Scottish parliament.
A big police mobilisation spent over five hours providing a protective cordon for the SDL before they were eventually put on a bus and forced to leave, still under police protection. They were not even able to show themselves in public, a major setback for the SDL after their boasts. This is the second major defeat for the SDL in Scotland following their attempts to march in Glasgow last November.
In addition to the mobilisation to the pub where the SDL met, over 2,000 trade unionists and anti-racists marched through the centre of Edinburgh on the 'Scotland United' demonstration. Delegations and banners from the CWU, PCS, Unison and FBU trade unions were on the march, as were groups from the Muslim community, students and socialists.
The Scotland United rally heard from an array of political representatives, including the Tories, Labour, the Scottish National Party and the LibDems. Jenny Dawes, Edinburgh city council's LibDem leader, spoke at the rally. But her administration is using scabs to break a strike of Edinburgh bin workers and is savagely cutting the council's budget.
None of these politicians have any strategy to defeat racist groups like the SDL and parties like the BNP. But interest in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition leaflet announcing the TUSC's intention to stand in eight seats in the general election in Scotland was strong. Tommy Sheridan, the co-convenor of Solidarity and leading public sector trade unionists from Unison and CWU and other unions will be standing.
The International Socialists support mass mobilisations to directly prevent the SDL from marching or seeking a show of strength through 'static demonstrations'. In both Glasgow and Edinburgh, anti-fascist alliance mobilisations, largely of young people, played a vital role in finding and preventing the SDL from carrying out a public show of strength and we have participated in them.
However, it is wrong, as some in the anti-fascist left do, to counterpose the role of these mobilisations to the much larger demonstrations in the cities, called by the trade union movement, Muslim communities and others on the days that the SDL have attempted to mobilise.
In both Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Scotland United demonstrations have been far bigger than the anti-fascist alliance mobilisations. Moreover, despite the pro-big business speakers, they played an important role in mobilising and giving confidence to those who want to oppose racism and fascism.
Nevertheless, a discussion should take place with the trade unions, the anti-fascist alliances and others to seek broader cooperation on the tactics to be used in dealing with the issue of the SDL and the BNP.
Saturday's event was a major setback for the SDL and an important victory for the anti-racist movement. The TUSC electoral challenge can be an important step forward in the campaign to build a real alternative for the working class and trade unionists and help to undercut support for racism in Scotland.
In The Socialist 24 February 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis