Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12606
Keep EDL out of the East End: for anti-racists' right to march
Support the United East End demo
Saturday 3rd September 11am Weavers Fields, E2 6HW near Bethnal Green Tube
THE English Defence League (EDL) has announced their intention to march through Tower Hamlets on 3rd September.
This is organised primarily to provoke anger amongst youth and workers in a borough with the highest percentage of Muslims in Britain.
The EDL is not just racist, moreover. It has many right-wing extremists in its leadership, including former BNP members such as EDL leader Tommy Robinson.
These right-wing thugs see the EDL as an opportunity to develop a street fighting force that could in the future be used against striking workers or young people protesting to defend their education, as well as to whip up racial divisions in our communities.
EDL can be stopped
THE FAR-RIGHT has not been able to organise public activity in Tower Hamlets since 1993 when the BNP were driven out of Brick Lane.
A determined campaign of local youth organised by Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) among others saw them forced out of the area. The Socialist Party was also involved in this campaign.
Last year's 5,000+ strong demo gave just a glimpse of the huge opposition to the EDL in Tower Hamlets.
Police bans or mass campaign?
The scale of the opposition to the EDL in Tower Hamlets has put huge pressure on the police.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman has called for the march to be banned on the grounds that it would lead to violence.
As we warned, the police have now used Rahman's call for a ban as a justification for the banning of all marches in Tower Hamlets and four other London boroughs over the next thirty days.
This will not prevent the EDL from coming to Tower Hamlets as they will still have a right to hold a 'static demonstration'.
The police ban on the EDL demo in Leicester last year did not prevent their thugs from viciously attacking local people out shopping.
In Leicester, the police, council leaders, and unfortunately some trade union leaders, urged anti-racists to stay at home.
Fortunately many ignored this, and so the EDL were eventually chased away by thousands of mainly Asian young people, together with trade unionists, who came out onto the streets to defend their communities.
In Tower Hamlets the police and the state have gone further, attempting to prevent thousands of local people using their democratic right to march against the EDL, and to prevent any other trade union demonstrations planned over the coming month.
The people of Tower Hamlets should not accept this, but to continue to demand our right to a mass, organised demonstration on 3 September.
As we have argued, Mayor Rahman should be using his powers to mobilise the mass defence of the borough.
He could organise meetings on estates to explain the threat of the EDL and ask estates to elect defence committees.
He could recruit extra Community Safety Officers, elected by the estate committees, appointed specifically for the day to support the defence of these estates.
Stop the cuts that breed EDL support
THERE IS also a danger that, unless the campaign against the EDL is united with the campaign to stop the cuts, the EDL could win some support in our borough.
Tower Hamlets remains the third poorest area in the country. But the wealth of the richest people in the world passes through hands in Canary Wharf and we don't even see the crumbs.
A mass campaign involving the council trade unions, other trade unions in the borough - both public and private sector - and youth and community groups could mobilise tens of thousands against job losses and cuts.
5000 + strong anti-EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets in June 2010, photo by P Mason (Click to enlarge)
There have been widespread protests across the borough from hundreds of young people and students from Tower Hamlets protesting against the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and the tripling of fees to hundreds of teachers and council workers going on strike in March and June.
This campaign could unite around a call for the nationalisation of the banks and finance industry to end the speculation of the market and use the enormous wealth of big business to conduct a massive programme of public works to provide the much needed extra housing and jobs.
If they were nationalised they could be run by accountable and elected committees of workers to meet our needs.
A socialist plan of production could be developed across the country - and prepare the way for similar movements across the world.
All the political parties in the borough, Tory, Lib Dem and Labour have failed the people of Tower Hamlets.
They all voted for or supported cuts. The Socialist Party believes if Mayor Rahman and Tower Hamlets councillors are not prepared to lead this campaign against the Con-Dem government then they should stand aside to allow local people to vote for those who will.
The anti-cuts campaign should be organising meetings on estates throughout the borough to build for the next council elections so that representatives who are prepared to fight are elected onto the council.
- Jobs, homes and services not racism
- Keep the EDL out of our borough - for a mass demonstration to oppose them on 3rd September. Lift the police ban.
- Organised defence of our estates - elected defence committees supported by additional Community Safety Officers
- End the cuts to council services - the council to set budgets based on community needs
- No cuts to services in the borough - for a mass community campaign of trade unionists and youth and community campaigns
- For a socialist plan to meet the needs of the millions not the millionaires.
This article is based on the Tower Hamlets Socialist Party leaflet building for the demonstration.