Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/598/8258
WDL racists chased out of town
The far-right racist Welsh Defence League (WDL) suffered a major setback in Swansea on Saturday 17 October in their first outing in Wales. A stand-off lasted for over an hour until the police were forced to escort the WDL away.
A Swansea Socialist Party member
In reality, the WDL are a Welsh offshoot of the English Defence League. For weeks the WDL declared their intention to protest against alleged 'Islamic extremism', in a city with a relatively small Muslim community. Originally their stunt was to be outside the mosque, but just days before the protest they changed the time and place to 4pm in Castle Square in the city centre.
Various groups set up a committee to coordinate the counter protests, including the Socialist Party and Unite Against Fascism. This resulted in around 500 people taking part in the protests throughout the day from 1pm. Having leafleted and held meetings over the past few weeks, Socialist Students had an impressive mobilisation with their banner being proudly displayed alongside trade union banners brought along by Unison, NUJ and Swansea trades council.
Despite the police sending out misinformation about the time and place of the counter protest, the number of anti-racist protesters dwarfed the 60 WDL assorted thugs and football hooligans. The WDL, realising they would not be able to assemble in the packed square, attempted to march up the main road. But the crowd surged forward and left the big police presence with no option but to 'contain' the WDL outside the square.
This bunch of pathetic, middle aged football hooligans exposed their real beliefs by pulling down and burning a local resident's anti-Nazi flag. Surrounded by hundreds of protesters and protected by dozens of police, all these scum could do was shout racist abuse and give Nazi salutes, which were captured on the front page of the local paper. Quite a few of the WDL had come from out of town. Also, despite the British National Party (BNP) trying to distance itself from the protest, known BNP members were present.
Trade union defence
At the rally Socialist Party members gave a class alternative to the racist intimidation of the WDL. As Rob Williams, reinstated Unite convenor at the Linamar car parts plant, said: "What are the WDL defending us from? We in Linamar, the postal workers and those facing attack in the public sector have our own defence leagues - the trade unions. As workers, we can't defend ourselves from the attacks of the employers if we are divided."
Mike John, who is helping to organise against the WDL's next protest in Newport on Saturday 24 October, called for everyone to join the counter protest. He told the victory rally: "Let's have a similar number in John Frost Square (named after a leading Chartist) next week as we have had in Castle Square this week."
This victory shows that the threat of the WDL, as well as the BNP, can be successfully challenged. Anti-racist campaigners in Swansea and throughout Wales, many of whom are young people, can draw confidence from this success.
In The Socialist 20 October 2009:
War and occupation
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reviews
Marxist analysis: history