Newcastle: countering the fascist menace

Norman Hall, Gateshead Socialist Party

On 14 May far-right groups organised a rabble of 50, from as far afield as Scotland, for a demo and rally in Byker, the east end of Newcastle. Although they profess the importance of nationality, some seemed confused about their own, when they launched into a chant of “we’re English”!

They were met by 150 to 200, overwhelmingly Tynesiders, gathered to oppose their vile racist ideology. This counter-demo and rally was initiated by the National Shop Stewards Network (Northern), Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) and the Socialist Party at relatively short notice.

The rally was addressed by officials and shop stewards from BFAWU, Unite, and RMT unions as well as the YRE, Northumbria University NUS and others.

The counter-demo was loud and enthusiastic and determined that the racist message of disunity and blaming refugees, immigrants and minorities for the crimes of capitalism, did not go unopposed.

The Socialist Party calls for a united movement against racism and for jobs, homes and services for all.

Alan Milne, a BFAWU regional organiser, Mark Robinson, a Unite shop steward and Stan Herschel, RMT regional organiser (retired) all commented on the poisonous role of fascists in the workplace and the need to drive them out of the unions.

Mark related how previously a BNP member, who held the role of shop steward before him, drove union membership down to 20%. Mark reported membership was currently 95%, including Polish workers, two of who are themselves now shop stewards.

The family of one of the Polish stewards had 36 relatives killed by the Nazis and his grandfather had come to Britain and joined the RAF to oppose fascism.

Proceedings were wound up with a determination to oppose the fascists wherever and whenever they raise their heads.