A Socialist Party member on the platform

A Socialist Party member on the platform   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Exeter: One thousand march against EDL

Sean Brogan, Exeter Socialist Party

A counter demonstration against the racist English Defence League (EDL) numbering over a thousand marched against a so-called ‘national mobilisation’ of the EDL.

Community groups, organised under the banner of ‘Exeter Together’, called the march. Exeter Socialist Party participated in the organisation of it, along with trade unions, UAF, the Labour Party and a number of different faith organisations.

In one of the biggest local demonstrations for many years, which included many youth, the strength of feeling that exists in Exeter against these racist hooligans was clear.

The EDL at the same time were gathering in a local pub, spilling out into the street shouting racist remarks at locals. Their ‘national’ mobilisation consisted of approximately 200 – outnumbered by 250 police including a mounted unit from South Wales.

They marched to a local park to hear anti-Muslim speeches of ‘no going back to the dark era’ followed by a bad rendering of ‘God save the Queen’.

A dozen anti-EDL ‘black block’ hooded followers assembled nearby, but the police prevented them from getting anywhere near the racist rally.

Exeter Socialist Party had a stall at the counter-demonstration and we have organised a follow-up public meeting.

There were well meaning anti-EDL contributions at the counter rally but the main organisers never intended to try to actually stop the EDL march and the political message was muted to avoid recognition that social conditions give rise to such far-right organisations.

Capitalism with its failures of one million youth unemployed, low wages and homelessness gives these groups a chance to promote racist ideas, which can attract some people in the absence of a strong trade union led, united alternative.

Socialists must give a lead in explaining why the likes of the EDL exist and the necessity of putting forward a socialist alternative, and driving them off the streets.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 18 November 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.