Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/27617
Stop the FLA - No to racism
Jobs, homes and services for all
Socialist Party members on the anti-'Free Tommy Robinson' demo 9 June, photo London Socialist Party, photo London Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
On 14 July another 'Free Tommy' demo called by the 'Democratic' Football Lads Alliance will take place - this time to welcome Trump! The Socialist Party will be participating in the counter-protest.
A resolution on countering the FLA has been moved by Socialist Party members in several trade union bodies and it is important that the debate on the issues raised in it continues after 14 July.
This union notes that:
1) The 9 June 'Free Tommy' Democratic Football Lads Alliance demonstration in London saw an estimated 15,000 people take to the streets. The demonstration to defend 'free speech' saw clashes with the police and Robinson supporters giving the Hitler salute in Whitehall.
2) The counter-demonstration called by Stand Up To Racism was small and relied on the police for protection.
3) When any far-right organisation tries to get a foothold they must be countered. Where they organise they can give confidence to a racist minority to carry out racist attacks. In Leeds, after the DFLA marched, a mosque and a Sikh temple were set on fire. Racism in all its forms must be opposed.
4) Many people will be alarmed at the size of the 9 June Free Tommy demo and could be put off participating in small counter protests that rely on the police for their defence - police who on other occasions have been used to kettle students and force anti-racist protests off streets to allow the far-right to march.
5) On 14 July the supporters of Tommy Robinson are marching again in central London, while Donald Trump is in Britain.
This union agrees that:
1) If the far-right attempts to invade a local community it is essential that we fight for a massive mobilisation of the community to defend itself. The trade unions can be crucial in this. With an energetically-built campaign in the workplaces we can mobilise members. Trade unions should provide stewarding instead of relying on the police to keep people safe.
2) Crucially, trade union action can hold out hope and an alternative to those small numbers of people who may be attracted to far-right ideas. While some of the people that give their support to organisations like FLA, DFLA and 'Britain First' subscribe to the racist rhetoric expounded by their leaders, the people demonstrating are not all 'fascists'. A lot of them are angry young working class men, deeply alienated by austerity and by decades of capitalist neo-liberal policies. They have been betrayed by all the establishment politicians, in particular abandoned by the betrayals of Blairite New Labour that has pursued pro-capitalist policies of cuts, privatisation and austerity-lite in councils and in government.
3) When Jeremy Corbyn put forward an anti-austerity manifesto in the 2017 general election a million previously-Ukip voters switched to vote Labour. While up to 15,000 marched to 'Free Tommy' on 9 June, in March 2011 three quarters of a million marched under the banner of the TUC when people believed the trade unions were going to fight austerity. Tens of thousands have marched to save the NHS, and will demonstrate against Trump. 4) If the trade unions mobilise with energy and with clear demands to fight for jobs and homes and to kick out the Tories, we'd have hundreds of thousands on the streets and could cut across the appeal of far-right leaders.
This union therefore further agrees:
1) It is essential to build an anti-racist workers' movement that fights for jobs, for council homes, for pay, benefits and decent public services.
2) We resolve to open up a debate in the trade unions about the slogans and tactics necessary to defeat the far right, putting the resources, authority and power of the organised working class at the centre of a mass anti-racist, anti-austerity movement.
3) We resolve to contact other trade union bodies with a view to calling/supporting a trade union event on 14 July to fight for jobs, homes, services and education, against Trump
4) Our union is affiliated to/has donated to Stand Up To Racism. We believe that SUTR should not make decisions about actions without first consulting with the trade union backers and we agree to write to SUTR to that effect.
5) To write to the TUC to demand it launch a 'jobs, homes not racism' campaign to unite the wider trade union movement and to campaign effectively against the far right. This should include workers taking all legal steps (up to and including strike action) to disrupt all attempts to organise for the purposes of extending the rhetoric of the FLA and DFLA or any similar organisation.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 July 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.