English Defence League Disrupt Uaf Meeting in Bristol

The following is a report by a young postal worker that he sent to Billy Hayes of the CWU:

I am just writing to inform you about an incident that took place at a UAF meeting at the Railway Club in Bristol last night (17th March). In the very same room that you gave a speech in a couple of weeks ago.

The meeting which started at 730pm was arranged to discuss election strategy and to build support for the counter fascist operation that is taking place in Bolton this Saturday. Weyman Bennett was due to speak at this meeting but pulled out at the last minute. It was a public meeting and it was advertised as such. When i arrived there were about 35 people in attendance the usual type of people you would expect at meetings like this. Rob Wotherspoon (CWU), Trade Unionists, SWP, Socialist Party and Labour party members. The meeting was running a bit late as the replacement Guest speakers train was running late.

In the mean time 5 rather stocky looking guys one them had a skin head walked into the room. Obviously alarm bells started ringing they were all half drunk as well. They sat down to join the meeting, I had my eye on them as i am sure everyone else did. The chap with the skin head started to film the meeting on his mobile phone which the chair too acceptation too. then all of sudden another stocky looking entered the room, then another, then two more and then one more. the spread themselves around the room, to almost surround us . All in all I would say there were about 10 of them in the room at this stage and later I was told there were 3 or 4 waiting outside the club. I think we were all just waiting for the flash point at this stage.

The meeting was then opened to debate, there was a couple of contributions from the floor. then the ringleader indicated and was allowed to speak. He announced that he was from the EDL, That he was a serving Soldier. He said he was here because he had serious problem with UAF campaigning against them and that they were not racists or fascists the were anti-Islamic extremists . A few voices were raised in the audience, a few swear words were used by the EDL leader. The Chair did his best to maintain control of the meeting but the meeting deteriorated. Insults were flying around people were going chest to chest a few chairs were pushed around. the chap with the skin head resumed filming and taking photographs of everybody and then the Police were eventually called. I am sure that all this in on youtube today I haven’t looked yet.

While we were waiting for the Police to arrive I was chatting to one of the EDL members and to be honest with you they did not have a political argument between them. I asked the question what do you mean by Islamic fundamentalism? He couldn’t tell me. They all took offense to being called racists or fascists which surprised me. To be honest with you I think most of them had genuine gripes. The chat I spoke to was a Plummer who has been out of work since last May. Another EDL member was talking about the afghan and iraq wars. What I am saying is that there were a lot of waivers amongst them. a lot of them are clearly not Fascists the are just been used and manipulated by Fascists for thier own Political aims and objectives.

One thing about the tactics of the EDL. These guys were not from Bristol, some were sent to the meeting from a place in Wiltshire called Calne. I can only speculate why the didn’t send their members from Bristol, Maybe they didn’t want to expose there Identities at this stage from some reason. I think they may also have been hoping Wayman Bennett would be there.

For them I think they would class this operation as a success, they had a few beers, they stopped our meeting for 45 mins and they intimidated us. To be honest with it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

On the plus side it has exposed to me what they are all about, these are very dangerous individuals. So anyone holding a future UAF meeting, please make sure they have the numbers there to protected themselves. ultimately our meeting reconvened after they left so they really didn’t achieve much no matter what they may think.

This my account of what happened, as I have mentioned Rob was there as well so he may have things to add that I might have missed

296 comments on “English Defence League Disrupt Uaf Meeting in Bristol

  1. Considering what the UAF brownshirts got up too on their demos I’d say it was a case of the biters bit. You go around intimidating working class people with legitimate concerns, call them racist, associate them with the BNP and then sound surprised when they decide you are the enemy.

  2. I think this is a worrying development, I have sad al along that if the UAF fail t understand the psychology and social composition of the EDL, then it could raise this worrying prospect

  3. Come on, the EDL members are just mindless thugs looking for trouble and anyone with dark skin
    is a potential target. It is the way these fucking morons think. Or don’t think to be more exact.

  4. Nadia Chern on said:

    Andy is right. A number of UAF meetings are being targetted with some confidence. Bolton is not looking good for UAF at this moment – police have erected large temporary walls and are swarming the UAF area.

    My fear is that counter mobilizing on the basis of a confrontation (clearly the current UAF strategy) is not widening splits in the EDL but helping to unite it and alienate the less political of its troops froma dialogue with anti racists.

  5. ECOLEFTY on said:

    I was at the meeting and all things considered people handled it well. In future I’d recommend all UAF meetings are stewarded properly. The EDL people there spent as much time arguing with each other as they did with UAF members, so I don’t think it will be too difficult to split them. Many of them were also past the “dutch courage” stage of drinking and close to the falling over stage!

    I sincerely hope there is a good turn out in Bolton, although I share the concerns of many about how UAF is run.

    Nick Foster
    Green Party Candidate Kingswood

  6. little black sister on said:

    However confused some of them are, there are no excuses for behaviour like this. Entering and surrounding someone else’s meeting is intimidation, and those taking part knew it perfectly well.

    They will not succeed because the great majority of society is opposed to the vileness they have bought into.

  7. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Left meetings will need to pay more attention to security and stewarding, I think.
    It was fairly routine in the Weimar Republic for rival groupings to disrupt each other’s public meetings. This frequently resulted in fights and occasionally shootings. Most political parties (even “respectable” ones) had paramilitaries attached to them.
    As to the low intellectual level of the EDL, well, do you think they’re going to hit their targets with a PhD?

  8. richsw on said:

    @4: ‘4.Andy is right. A number of UAF meetings are being targetted with some confidence. Bolton is not looking good for UAF at this moment – police have erected large temporary walls and are swarming the UAF area.

    My fear is that counter mobilizing on the basis of a confrontation (clearly the current UAF strategy) is not widening splits in the EDL but helping to unite it and alienate the less political of its troops froma dialogue with anti racists.’

    Now look at this from BBC’s website at 13.16: ‘There are a relatively small number of EDL supporters so far’. Nothing’s decided yet, of course, but this contradicts your point about Bolton not looking good.

    Also, Andy isn’t right. He’s wrong – EDL aren’t attacking UAF meetings because of wrong a theory of their social composition, but because these months and years are crucial for them in terms of confidence and building. UAF might have to remind themselves of old methods of publicising and stewarding meetings, and of how we use public transport on demo days, but the purpose will be to continue organising, not give in to defeatist twaddle.

  9. Infantile on said:

    Is it time for the formation of self-defence organisations – there must be plenty of ex service personnel who oppose the EDL? Ex service people were very active after WWII against Mosley and his successors.

  10. David Rosenberg on said:

    “Ex service people were very active after WWII against Mosley and his successors.” @10
    yes, this was “the 43 Group”, but those ex-service people had just come back from a war they saw as anti-fascist, and they were predominantly Jews aware of the horrors fascism had just inflicted on Jews in Europe. Not sure we can easily find ex-service people today with similar consciousness.

    Organising the stewarding of anti-fascist meetings in the current period is going to be very important, and mobilising to stop the EDL and BNP as people are doing right now in Bolton.

    At the same time two other tasks are urgent – to mobilise the anti-fascist majority in British society to play an active role in combating them; and to find arenas through which to challegne the ides and assumptions of first time BNP voters or those leaning towards the EDL.

    Many of these people are not hardened racists and fascists but angry and resentful members of the working class who are disenfranchised by mainstream political parties focused exclusively on “Middle England”,

    In the vacuum they are latching on to racist/nationalist/fascist narratives and we need to be confronting that with alternative explanations and solutions.

    I was at a very good anti-fascist film event at a cafe in south london the other night and, in the discussion after, a UAF representative was urging people to come to Barking and Dagenham to leaflet the area an put material through letter boxes, but when he was asked by a young member of the audience why we don’t knock on the doors to have the conversation, the answer came back – no, there are lots of hardened racists. which seemed to me a pretty defeatist attitude.

  11. Nadia Chern on said:

    BBC news now: 1,500 UAF (very generous, if you look at the live pictures from Bolton News) and 2,000 EDL. Lots of arrests and anti-fascists hurt.

    Where is the taxi strike? The kettle was so obvious that the police even laid on portaloos.

    There needs to be a drastic rethink of UAF strategy.

  12. I looked at the live pictures as well and there didn’t seem to be 2000 EDL, it’s amazing how things can be interpreted.

  13. http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=20637

    4.13pm: From Bolton, Victoria Square

    Anti-fascist protesters are celebrating a huge success in forcing the EDL to retreat from Bolton’s Victoria Square. Thousands of anti-fascists have now united from the roads around the square, and the square itself, and marched out together.
    Isolated pockets of EDL supporters are watching resentfully as UAF supporters chant “Nazi scum” at them.

    A key moment came when hundreds of young people, many of them Asian, joined the anti-fascist protesters inside the square who had withstood attacks from riot police for several hours.

    Solidarity has forced back the EDL racists.

    The police harassed anti-fascists all day, sent snatch squads to arrest senior UAF officers, and pampered the EDL.

    But the EDL did not get their way.

  14. Kwame on said:

    Why would anyone reading the above choose to blame UAF for somehow failing to understand the motivations or background of these thugs?

    They drunkenly entered a public meeting to intimidate, to bully and to threaten. Nothing in the postal worker’s account detracts from the conventional left-wing view of the EDL: confused, aggressive and reactionary politics.

    Ww have no lesson to learn from this.

  15. richsw on said:

    @12: ’12.BBC news now: 1,500 UAF (very generous, if you look at the live pictures from Bolton News) and 2,000 EDL. Lots of arrests and anti-fascists hurt.
    Where is the taxi strike? The kettle was so obvious that the police even laid on portaloos.
    There needs to be a drastic rethink of UAF strategy.’

    The usual nudge-nudge and defeatism. The BBC site is just repeating police figures from earlier in the day, and no photos I’ve seen could possibly give an indication on numbers.

    Also, the kettle seems not to have been that, but an attempt to keep one part of the anti-EDL demo (consisting mainly of local muslims) from joining up with the other, in Victoria Sqare. It failed, and, as it stands, the EDL (numbers unknown, but fewer than the anti-fascists earlier in the afternoon) seem to be in retreat.

    I’m not posting for your info, as info clearly means little to you, but for others who might be persuaded by your piffle.

  16. The above actually sounds very good.

    ‘I think this is a worrying development, I have sad al along that if the UAF fail t understand the psychology and social composition of the EDL, then it could raise this worrying prospect’

    I really don’t understand what you mean here – that anti-fascists and anti-racists should just ignore the EDL (and so not be targeted by them?) and leave it to law-enforcement? Completely ignore it? I’m afraid this is just irresponsible – the EDL has been gaining momentum and we cannot afford to ignore the very real extent of political organisation, some of which is of course being headed by BNP members. These people have the resources and organisational skill to ship to co-ordinate actions around the country, pay for coaches, even a celebratory boxing social in London! Just look at the fact that apparently these people in Bristol didn’t even come from Bristol…

    Whether Andy and others like it or not, the EDL is a serious site for far-right organisation, with the potiality for more serious fusion with fascism on the streets. We must bring our own politics to bear against this movement.

  17. in despair on said:

    At some point we need some honest accounting. Decrying dissenting voices as ‘defeatism’ by richsw doesn’t help. Perhaps we should ask why the left so singularly failed to mobilise the so-called ‘mass’ anti-fascist movement. Last week we were informed breathlessly that UAF had got 70 coaches going to Bolton. That would have delivered around 3500 people. So were the coaches mythical or just unfilled. Either way – there is a problem which needs addressing.

    The UAF strategy appeared to hype the prospect of violence with it’s references to the Spanish Civil War – and the is allowed the police to send out dire warnings to schools and colleges and community groups in Bolton warning people to stay away. Now the police will never be our friends in this but we need to think our language through.

    Talk of ‘smashing’ the BNP or EDL off the streets is just fanciful nonsense when we can’t mobilise the numbers – and then actually works to limit our numbers as the middle ground stays away. Now there is a time and a place for ‘smashing’ but we’ve got to recognise the state we are in a – and realise that this is not 1936 or 1976.

  18. Armchair on said:

    #20 Yes medefinitely thinks.

    Stanislaw you are very unwise to suggest George is an anti-semite. Apart from the question of litigation, perhaps you would like to have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mc1BC6MFUos

    Also the parallel with the boycott is clearly the Anti-Apartheid movement, supporters of which would in today’s mad world be at risk of prosecution for promoting terrorism, and not nazi Germany.

    Can I be clear, do you believe that anyone calling for a boycott of Israeli goods is an anti-semite or even a nazi?

    Loads of Israeli flags in the EDL contingent today I notice btw.

  19. Nadia Chern on said:

    Sorry, richsw and Ray, where were the 70 coaches full and where was the taxi strike? Are you just posting to lie and hype events?

  20. richsw on said:

    despair @19: ’19.At some point we need some honest accounting. Decrying dissenting voices as ‘defeatism’ by richsw doesn’t help. Perhaps we should ask why the left so singularly failed to mobilise the so-called ‘mass’ anti-fascist movement. Last week we were informed breathlessly that UAF had got 70 coaches going to Bolton. That would have delivered around 3500 people. So were the coaches mythical or just unfilled.’

    I’m assuming you’re serious, which N Chem obviously isn’t, so I’ll answer in a serious way. My point isn’t about figures, or what’s really going on, but that (i) though N Chem has no idea on either, s/he talks as though s/he does, and (ii) the comments are intended to undermine the anti-fascist efforts in Bolton. That’s deliberate, and defeatism is a good word for it, though I really don’t care – if you are serious, I’ll happily withdraw it. As to the coaches, I don’t know if they were full – the one from my town, though, was a 25-seater, and full. But my point is that we don’t know the figures yet, just the BBC’s (contradicted by other agencies), which are based on the police’s; and, that, as the police spent the days leading up to the demo visiting mosques and schools DISCOURAGING people from attending it (as you say), there is reason to doubt them?

    Also: ‘Talk of ’smashing’ the BNP or EDL off the streets is just fanciful nonsense when we can’t mobilise the numbers – and then actually works to limit our numbers as the middle ground stays away.’

    I disagree. The best way to build is through the activity – I leafletted the college in our town several times to build the demo, and I don’t think we got any takers for the coach, but the fact of our being there (as we regularly are), and leafletting on this issue, has made quite a sharp impact in the college. We have three separate groups of youngsters who were unaware of the others until we introduced them, for instance, and now some kind of anti-racist/anti-fascist focus within the college seems likely. You’re right in a way – we don’t have the numbers yet – but the demo was the focus, not an impediment, to building.

  21. in despair on said:

    “The best way to build is through the activity – I leafletted the college in our town several times to build the demo, and I don’t think we got any takers for the coach”

    So perhaps you might reflect that a) your argument or leaflet wasn’t very persuasive b) talk of ‘smashing’ doesn’t attract the non-street fighting majority c) there’s a more general problem – which is the acceptance of much of the general Islamophobic discourse perpetrated by the media and mainstream politicians which the EDL seeks to exploit. Confronting this is much harder (and perhaps less fun) than a simple ‘smash the nazis’ slogan but I would argue much more important.

  22. richsw on said:

    despair @24:

    ‘So perhaps you might reflect that a) your argument or leaflet wasn’t very persuasive’ – not at all, as I implied in my previous post. It didn’t get anyone to the demo (or it hadn’t on Weds, when last I heard), if that ‘s what you mean, but no-one, not a single one, said ‘I’m not coming because of the street-fighting’. You might reflect that you’re projecting your own ideas onto others, and coming up with the number you first thought of?

    ‘b) talk of ’smashing’ doesn’t attract the non-street fighting majority’ – also covered in my previous post – something’s being set up in the college. It’s a begininng, so why quibble?

    ‘c) there’s a more general problem – which is the acceptance of much of the general Islamophobic discourse perpetrated by the media and mainstream politicians which the EDL seeks to exploit. Confronting this is much harder (and perhaps less fun) than a simple ’smash the nazis’ slogan but I would argue much more important.’ – there’s no contradiction between the two. All of the local MPs supported today’s demo, I believe. Your point is based on a contestable observation, and only leads you to question a demo at which you’re not present, and which, as I write, has probably been successful.

  23. LOL you have been found out in Bolton.Poor numbers, most arrests uaf, your leaders locked up. Even if you had 10000 there you could’nt smash anything.The reason you are weak is your arguments are false.

  24. Yes there is much else that needs to be done as well as counter demonstrations, principally the construction of a political alternative that can pull working class discontent to the left and focus on the real problems in society. But that does not mean we should just let the EDL/BNP take over the streets without a challenge. This varied bunch of racists, football hooligans and racist football hooligans need to know that they can’t assemble to intimidate local populations without a cordon of their police buddies to protect them.

  25. I certainly hope the UAF, and reds generally, trash each and every meeting, member and any other manifestation of the EDL & BNP. I’m proud, we do (or attempt to do) that you Nazi scum, Jay Bean (who was the Nazi commentator in the post above this comment, in case he is later deleted). I enjoyed seeing many an NF member on the end of my boot in Tottenham, Hyde Park, Waterloo and elsewhere.

    I think Bolton is a serious development, from early reports, I wish I had gone and the events at the meeting in Bristol likewise. I agree with all the comments earlier that UAF needs to consider better stewarding, it is certainly the case that the EDL appear to be getting more confident although I wonder if them sending members from Calne to Bristol is strength – even in tiny places they have support, or did they not have people to act in a big place like Bristol? I fear the former.

    I don’t know why there is such fierce comment between Lefts above. I’m hardly a shrinking violet on these matters but I think it clear that we all need to think clearly about how we oppose the EDL (and the BNP?) with the momentum they are gaining.

    I think collectively we will have the answers, as we have with anti-fascist and anti-racist mobilisations in decades past, but we need to discuss this in a comradely manner; level headed and with goodwill – that it is taken it as read that we all have the same end in mind – disposing of the EDL and BNP – even if our views on how to do this may differ.

    And as NB.

  26. The protest demos against the EDL scum subsidiary in Scotland were organised on a much more public and professional level. There were separate UAF groups at both, but the huge bulk of people were just normal people who weren’t there to fight or smash, but to show the scum that they’re not welcome.

    The EDL are violent thugs and football hooligans and this is the point that should be focussed on. Encourage church groups and charities to take part and there will be much larger numbers ready to be on the streets – but they won’t go if the apparent idea is to be the same as the violent scum being protested against.

  27. Allin on said:

    Nadia, Bob and Stanislaw are right wing racist scum so I wouldn’t worry too much about their comments.
    Full of the usual lies.

    Good to see a strong turnout from Muslim youth.

  28. I think “Bob”‘s use of the term “your own” to describe David T is telling about where “Bob” is coming from- his particular brand of “nationalism” is nazism in the pure unadulterated form, anti-semitic to the core.

    The only sense in which David T can be linked to the people who frequent this blog as one of “our own” is from the crazed mindset that views the world through the prism of a Jewish conspiracy which sees the left and Jews as part of a common enemy.

    I have no time whatsoever for David T , but I trust he would be revolted at being quoted aprovingly by this tosser.

  29. alibi on said:

    i am getting really tired of the “so we should just do nothing and let them take the streets” non-argument. they really have some of you hook, line and sinker.

  30. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    The UAF protest in Bolton was split into three sections and that’s why the numbers are so far out. One group in the square, one in a nearby shopping area, one group of several hundred local asian youth (all male) joined the largely white left group in the square at around 3pm to tumultuous applause.

    Until that point it had been a frustrating event with four hours of skirmishes by police anti riot squads and dog handlers into the crowd with numerous arrests. There was ritual abuse between fascists and anti fascists across the 10 metre wide police fences after the EDL assembled.

    Once the asian youth entered the square however the situation changed dramatically. The fascists on the other side of the square went incandescent and started throwing objects. The police who had ignored a bottle throwing incident earlier then switched tactics and waded into the fascists with shields and horses, driving them from the square and out of town. After a short period of stand-offs with the police the third group of protesters were allowed to join their comrades in the square and a certain modest victory was achieved. At this point there were around 3,000 in the square. The police then pulled back and the anti-fascists protestors led by the asian youth were able to leave the square heads high.

    The UAF organisation was poor with inadquate PA and stewards and no clear strategy. The real offenders however were Bolton’s Labour council who colluded with the police to give the EDL a safe berth in the Square, which was their intention, and called on local people especially muslims to boycott the Bolton Against Racism/UAF protest. The secret of a successful anti-fascist protest is not just to mobilise the white left from across the country, but to mobilise local people.

  31. UAF muppets got us kettled. Police were racist scum.

    EDL were allowed to march and rally unhindered.

    When will anti-fascists learn?

  32. SteveH on said:

    I mentioned on a previous thread that these were dangerous times because the far right and the state had found a common objective-Islamophobia, all backed by certain ‘liberal’ idiots and Zionist elements.

    I think the reporting of events in Bolton have validated my thoughts.

    The left must stand firmly opposed to all these elements and give them zero tolerance.

  33. I may be wrong but I also suspect comments above, particularly those whose name have never been seen before, could be EDL or BNP types looking to cause disunity, particularly with shrill provocative comments.

    But I’m sure the lessons of the cop infiltrator, who was reported by socialists mobilising against the BNP in Welling to indulge in many provocative actions, are well learnt, and any such efforts are wasted here.

    Thanks to Prinkipo and his report and, as Eddie, well done to all involved. It’s a shame that the latter contingent, of mainly Asian youth, weren’t with all the rest from the beginning – but I’m sure UAF did do adequate publicity to encourage that.

    Do we know when the next one is? I’m keen to attend, if I can.

    And as an aside, I wonder what the BNP are thinking?

    – We gave up massing on the streets to try and look ‘respectable’ but the EDL are making headway there. But are they, without an electoral strategy, or will that come? Or are we secretly supporting/encouraging the EDL? Or if not, we will have to think about the streets again or leave that to the EDL to make us appear non-confrontational, by comparison.

    I wish I knew.

  34. While the police and the media have behaved in a (predictably) disgraceful way over the Bolton protests, it was still correct for UAF and other anti-fascists to organise the counter protest.

    see more here:
    http://exposethebnp.com/2010/03/20/the-battle-of-bolton-and-the-media/

    in my view:

    No counter-protest = media story: “Thousands protest against Muslims”
    +UAF counter protest = media story:”Clashes between anti-fascists and right wing protesters”

    I prefer the latter.

    We could leave the EDL alone, let them run riot and smash up Asian businesses and assault and harass random Asian passers by, like they did in Luton and Stoke. But don’t expect that to lead to the media suddenly denouncing the EDL.
    EDL supporters smashed up police vans in Stoke, without the front page media outrage that is exclusively reserved for striking workers, the Climate Camp or anti-capitalist protesters.

    And if we left them alone, and the story was merely that thousands were rallying against Muslims, then the EDL would grow from this, as more people would feel confident to join them. That would lead to a ‘pogrom’ atmosphere against Muslims and drag British politics further to the right, diverting workers attention away from the attacks on them by their class enemy.

    Of course UAF and others still need to improve their tactics and strategy. In particular we need to adapt to the evolving terrain of the new Islamophobic racism. This form of racism is often able to deny that it is racism at all. It pretends that it is only against ‘Islamic extremism’ and that it is therefore really a campaign of liberal tolerance – allegedly defending women’s and gay rights against Sharia, uniting all colours and creeds against the ‘Islamicist enemy’.. etc… This myth circulates despite the fact that 99.% of EDL demonstrators are young white men who would be just as happy attacking gays and feminists or other racial and ethnic minorities if these were being singled out and demonised by the media and politicians instead of Muslims. The left needs to develop a new set of slogans and symbols that can unite the majority and challenge the persecution of ethno-religious minorities like Muslims.

  35. anticapitalista on said:

    Well done to all those involved in confronting the EDL in Bolton and especially to the locals who refused to be intimidated by the EDL, the police, the media and by others/community leaders who should know better.

    and of course,
    Everton 2 Bolton 0

  36. I think the Israel shops have closed down. They were a string of outfits promoting the state of Israel. All very straight forward really.

  37. Can we get rid of this stupid troll ‘Stanislaw’? We are facing a serious situation, where Britain’s Muslim ethnic minority is being demonised by the media and now terrorised by right wing mobs and fascists. We need to discuss how we respond. And then this HP troll come over and tries to derail this discussion by trolling the old myth that opponents of Israeli government policy are anti-semites. I’m skipping over any further posts by this idiot, but will read serious posts on our strategy and tactics against the EDL and BNP.

  38. tony collins on said:

    Indeed Nas & Barry, but we must be proud to have spawned an industry that spends all its time parsing Galloway’s every sentence in order to prove that he was responsible for the death of 1400 civilians in Gaza and a uncounted numbers in Iraq.

    It’s important that these people are out there bringing the real criminals to justice.

  39. Armchair on said:

    I’m assuming that Stanislaw has been deleted for legal reasons, as he may have unwisely repeated his allegation that those promoting a boycott of Israeli good are anti-semitic and akin to the nazis.

    In which case Andy’s done you a favour because I stupidly forgot to record what you said. Unless of course your original comment is still there…

  40. #41

    And if we left them alone, and the story was merely that thousands were rallying against Muslims, then the EDL would grow from this, as more people would feel confident to join them. That would lead to a ‘pogrom’ atmosphere against Muslims and drag British politics further to the right, diverting workers attention away from the attacks on them by their class enemy.

    No one is however, advaocating “leaving them alone”

    What is needed is a political response that avoids giving the EDL confrontational street theatre, with idiots on “our side” talking of “smashing them” and other idiots chanting “nazi scum” at them.

    Given their essentially hooligan nature, given the real ballance of forces; and given the fact that there is a potential danger of the left providing the framework for them to politically solidify in opposition to us, then much of the UAF’s stance is potentially very dangerous.

    Physical force is a tactical issue.

    In the current situatio, what the left should be doing is stressing the NON-VIOLENCE of our position, which is in defence of community cohesion; and counterposing our peacefull celebration of multi-culturalism, with their rabble. Simultaneoulsy we shoould be arguing for the state to treat the EDL not as a political movement, but as a public order problem.

    Look at the scale of delusion shown above: “This varied bunch of racists, football hooligans and racist football hooligans need to know that they can’t assemble to intimidate local populations without a cordon of their police buddies to protect them.”

    It seems that – in reality – it was again the police who handled the EDL, and the UAF appeared to the mainstream press- and through them to the general public, to be just as bad as the EDL.

  41. Ludicrous spin on the Socialist Worker website. Has Martin Smith recruited Alistair Campbell?

    The UAF demo was a failure. The stated objective was to deny the EDL entry to Victoria Square. Instead, the UAF was kettled in the pen constructed by the police on the north side of the square. Meanwhile, the EDL were escorted into their pen on the south side of the square.

    The trouble happened when anti-racists in the UAF pen realised that they were being kettled and tried, without success, to shove their way out.

    The UAF has got to make its mind up: is it a peaceful, broadly-based united front, in which case confronting the police is stupid. Or is it a harder direct action movement, in which case rallying inside a police pen is stupid.

    As it is, we got the worst of all worlds and handed a huge morale boost to the EDL who – ridiculously – are now claiming that they were not the thugs today.

  42. WhatPrinkiposays on said:

    I was a legal observer today, and had a decent view of the event. I was let through police lines (some of the time) and could see both the EDL and UAF.

    The only person above who describes the day with any accuracy is Prinkipo at 36 above, and his description is good.

    In fairness to the UAF one of the reasons why the stewarding was poor is that by 11.30 all three of the event’s organisers had been arrested, and while there were replacements, by the time they were in place, the anti-fascists were kettled in the square and in two groups outside. There wasn’t much for them to do.

    Kate accuses the UAF of being stupid for “confronting the police”.

    What I saw was police snatch squads acting at high speed; going through groups of tightly packed demonstrators. I saw demonstrators bloodied, and speaking for myself, I was hit twice by officers and grabbed one by the throat – normal conduct I suppose in terms of the policing of demonstrations, but I wasn’t there as a demonstrator. I was a legal observer. After the easy ride observers had 9 months ago at Codnor, that was an unwelcome change.

    Most demonstrators, unlike Kate, left the day happy. The reason why is essentially as Prinkipo describes – once the previously kettled extra blocks joined our protest, it felt large and diverse.

    As for the EDL – I don’t quite see the “morale boost” in being faced down by a group of 400 Asian teenagers before being escorted out of down by the cops…

  43. Avocado Da Vinci on said:

    In the struggle against fascism sections of the authoritarian ‘left’ will never stop campaigning for tighter laws against public assembly and public disorder. And they will always be the first victims of the laws and policies they’ve lobbied to create.

  44. I was there today, predictable was how id describe it. UAF knowingly allowed us to be kettled in the square, others were kettled outside the square- and to be fair that was not UAFs fault. A few attempts were made to break out and the GMP were up for a physical confrontation, they used the dogs and were very physical with anti fascists including women and people who posed no threat to them. They used snatch squads and we lost a lot of people to them.

    Two big positives, the re-emergance of AFA and the combativity of the local muslim/asian youth.

    In future there will be an alternative in England to UAF.

  45. Yes

    AFA and Red Action is what we need now

    not bloody liberals

    We have to hold the streets from now on, Bolton was a good start after Stoke

  46. Conservative Lawyer on said:

    As someone with a personal interest in opposing the EDL & BNP (my children are mixed race) I find many of the posts on this thread inxeplicable. All this talk of seeing ’em off on the streets’ is profoundly absurd – 2010 Bolton isn’t Cable Street & the UAF certainly aren’t the people who saw the BUF & Oswald Moseley off. The ‘Nothing British (run by conservative,ex public school boys), Lancaster Unity & ‘Hope not Hate’ (can someone explain to me why UAF fell out with Searchlight?) Groups have achieved far more against the far right than the ludicrous UAF. How? by forensically examining the insane, nasty policies of the far right & the ingrained evil & criminality of it’s leading lights. All the UAF can manage is chucking eggs at Griffin & pointless ‘street’ actions. How about finding & talking to the people who might consider voting for the BNP? Telling them what the BNP are like & the malignacy of their policies? No that’d be too much like hard work – far better to stage a pathetic street punch up.

    The fact is the UAF (& by default the SWP) is a joke

  47. It’s perhaps not surprising that a Conservative Lawyer thinks the EDL should be left to march through the streets and that the UAF is a joke. However, despite what you say Andy, it seems you are advocating leaving the EDL alone and letting the police deal with a “public order problem” (nice political analysis there) – but without a counter-demonstration, where is the public order problem in police eyes? It’s just the EDL marching and presenting themselves as a respectable and strong force, no doubt a force that many police officers sympathise with. We need all the others things people have said, a political alternative, a celebration of multiculturalism, but if a bunch of racist thugs marched through my town I’d hope the left and anti-racists would have the guts to stand in the way and say “No”.

  48. And another thing since I’m still awake, I find it a strange response to events to be calling for the emergence of a far-right street movement to be to be treated non-politically and for the actions of anti-fascists to be judged by the coverage in the mainstream media. “Respectable opinion” if that’s what you’re concerned about will easily adapt itself to whoever is proved right.

  49. The demo was very difficult at the beginning. I think the police were a bit taken aback by the number of anti-nazis arriving at the demo and tried very aggressive tactics in an attempt to undermine us. Ultimately, that didn’t work.

    There is no doubt that despite some confusion caused by the arrest of Weyman and others and the plan by the police to split up our march it was a successful demo. The EDL were seriously out-numbered, drowned out and eventually forced to retreat because the police realised they were at risk.

    Concerning the confrontation at the Bristol UAF meeting I’m sad that those at the meeting had to go through that. Having been confronted by nazis in the past it’s very frightening. But it sounds like these lads were conflicted in their ideas. I think this is a sign that there is real confusion among EDL members about what they stand for and as Searchlight reports, the cracks in the EDL are beginning to show.

    We need to up our security and that’s everyone’s responsibility not just the UAF leadership or the leadership of any other anti-nazi group. If we are organising meetings then we have to take responsibility for ensuring it’s as safe as possible. But on the other hand it will be counter-productive to adopt a siege mentality. Especially when, despite the fear that this confrontation provoked, it appears no one was attacked.

    The threat of attack is always possibility but I think this is a sign of desperation from an atomised section of the EDL membership rather than any collective confidence of the racists as a whole. In various ways anti-nazis are placing a huge amount of pressure on the EDL and BNP. The Bolton demo was a further demoralisation for them.

  50. Callum on said:

    I just got back from Bolton today. I was with the Scottish contingent kept penned in at Oxford Street, just off the Square.

    As others have said, it was a sometimes frustrating day that had a particular inspiring and positive end note.

    For our part, we formed a line at the bottom of the street stopping a few EDL, never more in groups of 5 or 6, from getting up the street and into the square. There were about 2 or 3 hundred of us. Most the Scots delegation was white and younger, largely female too, but we had lots of Asian locals, including about a hundred Asian lads who formed another barrier across the street stopping any EDL’ers getting by. We also had a few older, more “experienced” antifascist comrades milling about in front of our lines. These guys were the ones actually ‘escorting’ any EDL’ers who came by.

    There was no “violence” here, though. The Nazis who came by clearly saw the odds were against them.

    At about 4, after being on the street since about 10 o’clock, we marched into the square, as described in post 36. We met a large, young, ethnically diverse (including, I might add, more than a few dozen young Afro-Carribean lads) celebrating. It was an excellent moment.

    We then marched out of the square, through Bolton city centre. We encountered a few groups of EDL’ers milling about. At one point, even, we saw a group of about 100 or so at the end of a side street. They were quick enough to run though.

    And that’s important. These people are bullies, first and foremost. They feed on the passivity and timidity of their victims. The sight of 300 pissed-off Asian lads running towards them, something, given the fact they shat themselves and ran away, they obviously hadn’t encountered before in that way, might give some of them a bit of pause in the future.

    As for the critique of the slogans. There was a lot of ‘Nazi Scum off our streets’. I don’t have a problem with this. It’s INTENDED to infuriate the other side. The thing is, we’re not trying to convert EDL’ers to socialism. We’re trying to break the hardened Nazi core (is anyone, even the “grievance mongers”, disputing such a thing exists?) from the bitter young guys who’ve attached themselves. One way to do this is to promote dissension in their ranks.

    The idea that because they don’t like being called racists and fascists we shouldn’t call them racists and fascists really does need to be explained in greater depth. Its logic utterly escapes me.

    These people are using nationalist rhetoric and racist scapegoating to whip up petty-bourgeois discontents (tell me, how many working class guys can afford Chelsea season tickets?), marginal sections of the working class and young sections of the unemployed and lumpenproletariat for a campaign of physical intimidation and street-fighting.

    We need to confront this sensibly, seriously and honestly. I am proud to have been at the demo today. I think it represented a manifestation of a genuine antifascist tradition in Britain and I think its that tradition can ultimately turn the tide. Playing footsie with the cops or shitting yourself because they’re all skinheads isn’t going to help.

    Anyway, a long, confusing but ultimately quite satisfying day that most people I think thought ended in a minor, although not overwhelming, victory to our side.

    Next Stop Dudley!

    NO PASARAN!

  51. “However, despite what you say Andy, it seems you are advocating leaving the EDL alone and letting the police deal with a “public order problem” (nice political analysis there) – but without a counter-demonstration, where is the public order problem in police eyes?”

    Exactly, the police didn’t prevent the EDL from rioting in Stoke and attacking asian and white people. If anti-nazis hadn’t been in Bolton today the EDL would have done what they did in Stoke. The police were having a great old time allowing the racists to get tanked up and hurl bottles at the demo.

    The important thing is the argument has already been won by the thousands of anti-nazis that have turned out today and for the other demos such as the ones in Scotland. The momentum for counter-protests is growing and the willingness to stand up and protest is influencing and being influenced by the BA strikes, student protests and the many other forms of struggle up and down the UK.

    Instead of being defensive the left should feel proud of what we have achieved so far.

  52. Conservative Lawyer on said:

    @ NB

    The EDL are their own worst enemies – far better to let them disgrace themselves single handedly without any opportunity to point the finger of blame at 3rd parties.

    As I said ‘Nothing British’ (fronted by a hereditary nobleman no less) have in 18 months put up a far more effective resistance to the BNP (more articulate & intelligent) than the woeful efforts of UAF / SWP. You people don’t have a monopoly on opposing the far right & in fact you’re rather bad at it.

    Controlling the streets? Gimme a break! You’re not Rosa Luxemborg & her ilk fighting the good fight against a mob of Freikorp thugs. This is 21st Century Britain & most people find activities like affray & riot deeply unpleasant.

  53. doom n gloom on said:

    Tonight in Bolton when the EDL marched it is the UAF that is being condemned as they have reportedly attacked the police and bystanders, to Joe Public this will raise concerns. In Edinburgh the success was due to peoples across the political spectrum uniting in the name of Democracy, some took a more face on approach, others took a more traditional approach, the combination worked. In Bolton the UAF may have failed and we have another victory for the Facists.

  54. Brilliant report Callum! I totally agree with you that by using chants and other ways to expose that the EDL is being shaped by the BNP we stand a much better chance of splitting the soft core racists from the hard core nazis.

    The fact that nearly everywhere the EDL is reported in the media they are described as thugs and even Alan Lake, the EDL funder, refers to them as the football hoi polloi which must really irk those in the EDL who hold some bizarre belief they are defending patriotism.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with defending ourselves when confronted by racists and nazis. When they see anti-nazis in such huge numbers it really demoralises the nazis.

    I’m a member of a large gay social site and the Bolton anti-nazi demo was advertised on the forum by another member who is a really great Pro-Palestine campaigner. Some BNP idiot tried to hijack the thread and was linking to the BNP chat room. I and others challenged him and he came out with all the usual shifty lies that the BNP are pro-gay and not racist.
    A few people argued for free speech for this nazi but the majority of members posting in the thread were quite rightly hostile to him and his racist propaganda. A number of us complained and he was banned. Not before threatening me but those are the risks of standing up to this scum.
    The point is that we can isolate and expose the fascists in many different ways. Each time we do so they will feel further demoralisation. When this nazi was banned it was a boost for us and I bet he felt really shitty about being cut off by other gay people. He was already feeling sorry for himself for being thrown out of gay bars for wearing EDL t-shirts. Quite frankly I really couldn’t give a shit. They don’t show any remorse for their violent racist behaviour. The more we demoralise them the better.

  55. Pierre on said:

    It’s a shame for Ray, Callum and the rest of the SWP myth-makers that the advent of personalised commmunications technology makes it impossible to spin the same old lies. All people need to do is go on YouTube, Bolton News livefeed, twitter, etc to see what REALLY happened.

    Here’s a classic of the genre:

    “The EDL were seriously out-numbered, drowned out and eventually forced to retreat because the police realised they were at risk.”

    So 2000 (police figure) EDL thugs, many of them experienced football hooligans were at risk from the SWP/UAF? Here – have a look at them on YouTube (go to 1.50) and decide for yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW0g4CGnPe4

    Ray = fantasist

  56. “In Bolton the UAF may have failed and we have another victory for the Facists.”

    You obviously weren’t on the demo because all the reports from a variety of different people in this thread contradict your conclusion.

    “‘Nothing British’”

    Who? Are you seriously comparing them to the UAF and Hope Not Hate? I’m all for diversity and I think it’s good that there are a variety of groups with different strategies chipping away at the nazis but please stop having delusions of grandeur.

    The fact that you come on here trying to play one group off against another seriously undermines your claim that you are here to advance the anti-nazi campaign. I think you’re one of those boring concern trolls who frequent this blog such as “Nadia” and “Bob”. You know, the type that complains that if only [insert name of credible anti-racist/anti-racist organisation here] wasn’t involved then the campaign would do sooooo much better.

    You are very amateurish at concern trolling and I advise you to crawl back to Harry’s Place and come up with a much more credible ruse.

  57. Pierre on said:

    For more bombast on Bolton, visit the SWP’s very own Comical Ali, Richard Seymour, over at Lenin’s Tomb. Hilariously, one student mug hasn’t grasped the Leninist imperative and has provided a fairly accurate account of events – only to be slapped down.

    The SWP pulled out all the stops for Bolton and still failed to outnumber the fascists. Their idiotic tactics backfired and Bennett and Smith got themselves arrested. The EDL marched and rallied – antifascists under UAF leadership got kettled.

    The only solution is to pretend it didn’t happen. No, don’t you see? Bolton was a TRIUMPH!

    SWP – still lying after all these years (and, most of all, lying to its own people).

  58. UAF got decent numbers out but tactics and strategy piss poor. EDL got good numbers out and got to do everything they wanted to do. Id say todays result from Bolton was a narrow victory for the EDL even after a late surge of pressure from the anti fascists helped mainly by local muslim youth.

  59. Pierre I’ve just watched that video and there were no more than about 500 EDL being escorted by police. You obviously haven’t been on many demos. And what a motley bunch too. Those amateurish banner don’t do them any favours either.

    When some claim that the EDL are attracting the young working class do they mean those under aged kids marching with the EDL that the police were allowing to buy alcohol? It’s pretty hilarious to claim that the EDL are so tough when they had to be protected by the police today.

  60. Pierre on said:

    Ray says “You obviously weren’t on the demo because all the reports from a variety of different people in this thread contradict your conclusion.”

    A variety? Well, there’s Kriss, Prinkipo, Callum – er, what do they all have in common?

    Where’s Mr Rosen to complete the SWP Barbershop Quartet?

  61. Pierre how right you are- Richard Seymour is just a more intelligent Ray. Ray is one of the most deluded SWPers out there and thats not an easy task given the competition in the SWP for delusional thinking of the cultish variety.

  62. Pierre on said:

    Ray – you spend weeks running around every website on the left trying to build the demo. It wasn’t very successful so why not engage in some constructive self-criticism for a change.

    Everyone knows that the EDL are thugs and do not require protection from the UAF. They might require protection from each other: when the Border City Firm from Carlisle have a drunken off with the Jack Army from Swansea, for example but they don’t quake in their boots at the thought of you.

  63. The Zionists at Harry’s Place must be really worrying about the growth of the anti-nazi campaign because they are really pulling out all the stops in a futile attempt to trash it. They’re really pissed that Islamophobia is being defeated. What a delicious feeling.

  64. “Pierre” are you “Nadia” or “Bob”? I’m not sure which one of your faces you have on today.

  65. dennis on said:

    Great post by Callum. The key, as others have said and today seems to confirm, is the mobilisation of those (in this case, young muslims) outside the ranks of the established left. That was the case in Lewisham and Wood Green and other well known sites of confrontation with the NF in the ’70s, where asian, black and greek cypriot youth responded to the call of the left and hammered the nazis. That means an argument with the so-called ‘community leaders’ and indeed sections of the left itself who will always argue that organisations like the EDL should not be confronted, that it will look bad in the media, that the task should be left to the police etc etc. Despite what some say, these are not new arguments. They’re very old arguments. They just need to be had again.

    After looking at what happened in both Stoke and Bolton, the idea that we should all go away and leave the Police to deal with the EDL as a ‘public order problem’ does seem willfully blind to realities. Despite tactical blunders often being made, the UAF are ultimately right to argue for mass opposition.

  66. I think Prinkipo would be rather surprised and possibly annoyed to find out you’ve signed him up to the SWP. While I’m all for recruitment drives I do think it’s polite to inform people first before they become members. Come to that, “Mr Rosen” would probably also be surprised to learn you’ve signed him up to the SWP. I can’t speak for Callum but I don’t think he’s a member either.

    I know you think us reds are under every bed “Pierre” but you really need to get a grip before jumping to conclusions.

  67. “Pierre how right you are- Richard Seymour is just a more intelligent Ray.”

    Pierre told a big porky pie about the number of EDL on the demo today so use your intelligence and stop being taken in by a Harry’s Place troll.

  68. lenin’s tomb reports that the self proclaimed antifascists protesters were behaving worse than the EDL.

    I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve seen many demos where the antifascists were fighting the police to get to the other side.

    Seriously, who really thinks it helps anything to behave like thugs? All you’ve done is signed up another couple of hundred ordinary kids to the EDL.

  69. thepen on said:

    Conservative Lawyer,

    Given your choice of pseudonym I’m not at all surprised to find you don’t have much of a clue.

    “How about finding & talking to the people who might consider voting for the BNP? Telling them what the BNP are like & the malignacy of their policies? No that’d be too much like hard work -”

    This has consistantly been a strand of the approach adopted by UAF since its inception and numerous UAF members myself included have travelled just about the length and breadth of the country and knocked on countless doors etc doing precisely this.

  70. Some people really need to look at their politics here.

    Look at the Respect leaflet that shamefully told Muslims that the belated campaign against an extremist entryist organisation was actually an attack on all Muslims.

    And now look at your behaviour at yet another one of these demos.

    What are you doing with lives? Do you ever think about the consequences of your actions? Who are you?

  71. Pierre on said:

    Ray says “Pierre told a big porky pie about the number of EDL on the demo today”

    Shit – you got me bang to rights there, Ray. Not only did I tell a lie about there being 2000 fascists there, I even got my secret agents on the local newspaper to repeat it:

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/5074134.UPDATE__Officers_praised_following_Bolton_demonstration/

    Ignore the silly journalists who were there on the ground: everyone knows that Socialist Worker is the only reliable journal of record. It would never feed its readers a load of bollocks in pursuit of a political agenda.

  72. [quote]”Today in Bolton we have seen some small evidence of this protest in the form of flag waving and vitriolic name calling – but we have also seen groups of people, predominantly associated with the UAF, engaging in violent confrontation.

    “It is clear to me that a large number have attended today with the sole intention of committing disorder and their actions have been wholly unacceptable. Turning their anger onto police officers they acted with, at times, extreme violence and their actions led to injuries to police officers, protestors and members of the public.

    “The police are not and should not be the target of such violence and anger and this protest and the actions of some of the protestors is roundly condemned by GMP and by Bolton Council. Were it not for the professionalism and bravery of police officers many others would have been seriously injured. I would also like to praise the efforts of the EDL stewards who worked with us in the face of some very ugly confrontations.”[/quote]

    I am so proud to say I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO F**KING DO WITH YOU!

  73. doom n gloom on said:

    73# 1. I did state MAY have failed, I wasn’t there, but going by all the reports that I have seen the UAF came across as the thugs, and we are playing a media game game and the UAF lost this publicity battle, you did not highlight the part where I mention “peoples across the political spectrum uniting in the name of Democracy”, doesnt suit your aims I suppose.
    Think about it , headlines on News at Ten, youngsters walking with the English Flag and the police are attacked by a bunch of reds, okay we know the EDL are tools in the hands of facist manipulators, as for the Police, well my favourite skinhead band says it all A.C.A.B.
    99% of the people on this thread oppose the EDL, constructive critism of UAF tactics tonight is being taken as an open attack. Read and learn.

  74. 99% of the people on this thread oppose the EDL, constructive critism of UAF tactics tonight is being taken as an open attack. Read and learn.

    Um, no I think I am openly attacking them. This isn’t the first time they’ve behaved like a football hooligan organisation that has targeted the police. They have a long history of doing this.

    If they behave like thugs then they should be treated as thugs. The question should be how we can better support the police to crack down on these yobs who are looking to assault them.

    It may have to be the case that the UAF is banned, or at least banned from holding demos.

  75. There is just no way we would tolerate a far right organsiation repeatedly doing this. Football hooligans get their passports taken away.

  76. “Ignore the silly journalists who were there on the ground…”

    Pierre, keep on taking those Zionist pills mate. You weren’t at the demo so you don’t know how many were there do you? Be honest now. I know honesty isn’t something you Islamophobes take to very easily but you must be used to police propaganda by now.

    “constructive critism of UAF tactics”

    The Zionists are screaming on here in outrage because we drove back their Islamophobic chums, the EDL and you call that “constructive”? Whose side are you on?

  77. It’s amusing and very revealing the level of hostility towards the demo today by Pierre and co. The success of the demo has ruffled those feathers at Harry’s Place. They’re sick to their stomachs. I’m enjoying this very much.

    Sadly I’m not living in Tower Hamlets otherwise I would be voting Respect. I really hope the racist witch hunt by the Tories and Labour against Muslims sinks both parties in the borough and results in all the Respect candidates winning their seats. Another nail in the coffin for racists and Islamophobes.

  78. LarryN on said:

    The concept of non violence has never been applied by the UAF. Violence has been its only means in every confrontation from Glasgow to London.

    The UAF has lost all public credibility and respect when they turn people’s city centres into turf wars.

    The trade union movement, and labour movement have a clear responsibility to review their support, which at the moment must be tenous after this latest affray by the UAF in Bolton. If the police were not there it would have been a bloodbath.

  79. This site has sunk to a new low. Reports from the police, bbc and sky are taken as fact. Those who want to attack UAF are scabs. Well done UAF, Time to stand up to the nazi’s.

  80. dennis on said:

    Yes, in response to some of the muppets posting above, and their snivelling tacit support for islamaphobia and police thuggery, I’d like to add congratulations to all those on the demo, the UAF, the SWP and the local asian youth who stood up to the EDL. Well done.

  81. reader on said:

    “The concept of non violence has never been applied by the UAF. Violence has been its only means in every confrontation from Glasgow to London.”

    Simply not true. UAF has been involved in peaceful demo’s, and most of those it can mobilise have no interest (or ability!) to inflict violence.

    However, there are some – see this thread – who say they want a more violent conflict. It would be funny, if it wasn’t such a threat to successfully opposing the EDL. The idea that young white hooligans get demoralised by confrontation is unbelievable. The EDL love a bit of running and fighting. And they can outnumber and outfight those the left can mobilise.

    Success will come from mass peaceful community based demo’s against bigotry – not hooligan conflicts and fights. All Bolton did was confirm to EDL that they might get a ruck if they organise a demo, and that the UAF will get equal blame. This will inspire them to hold more.

  82. Armchair on said:

    Ed

    1) You suggest that UAF should be banned. Do you say the same about the EDL, or do you have some sympathy with them?

    2) Can you explain why you have quoted a Police statement in detail as evidence for your argument? Do you believe that the Police can be trusted to give an honest account? I know you don’t trust the left, so don’t come back with that.

    3) Can you explain your connection between the Respect leaflet and what(according to your belief) happened on the Bolton demo? Verifiable facts, rather than libel and political prejudice would be appreciated.

  83. Armchair on said:

    #98 It’s one thing to take the side of the Police and the EDL and another to have tactical and strategic differences with, for example, what happened in Bolton yesterday. I hope you recognise this.

    Lumping everyone together and calling them scabs, if that is what you are doing is not helpful to say the least.

  84. I’m happy to discuss and debate tactics with others who mobilise against the fascists. I did a fair bit of that yesterday, in quieter moments.

    This clearly is not the place to do so, however.

  85. There is a great deal of naivity in some of these comments defending the UAF debacle in Bolton.

    There are two audiences that matter here:

    i) the general public, where there is now widespread islamophobia
    ii) those hooligans attracted to the EDL.

    The perception of what happned, which most peope will have received, is from mainstream media organisations, for example the BBC, who effectively blame the UAF for violence:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8578558.stm

    Given that the EDL’s main political plank, opposition to Islam, feeds into mainstream common sense for all too many people, then associating the UAF as being the violent ones trying to stop a mainstream political viewpoint being expressed is dangerous indeed.

    Now obvioulsy there is a significant minoroty of people who do see the EDL as dangerous thugs with a message of hate, but the UAF’s streategy, and their language of confrontation effectively excludes most people opposed to the EDL, and instead focusses on the minority of highly politicised activists.

    Compare what the UAF are arguing here with the approach that Stop the War took to the NVDA crowd, there STW correctly pointed out the dangers of elitist froms of activism demobilising potential support.

    Fraom the point of view of the EDL yesterday was an unambiguous victory. They had a great day out, a bit of a run around, an adrenalin buzz, some beers and glimpsed the chance that if they keep turning out, the left will rise up to it, and there is a good chance they might get a proper ruck if the policing ever slips up. What is more, the press are blaming the UAF. GFrom their point of view it was all good. And for the small fascist minority in the EDL they can’t beleive their luck, faced with the difficult task of trying to politicise hooligans and consolidate them around identifying with facsism, the UAF are there shouting “Fascist” and “Nazi” at the EDL. Doing the BNP’s job for them.

    UAF are playing a dangerous, dangerous game at every level.

    Firstly, talking up physical force, using the language of Lewsiham, and “smashing the Nazis off the streets” could have poential serious consequences

    Secondly, the UAF cannot handle the EDL, and for all your bravado, what is stopping them running amuck are the coppers. Only the police have the capability of handling the EDL if it comes to a real ruck.

    (I leave aside the issue of whether Asian communities might need to defend themselves if policing fails, if that happens then we deal with that – but a Burnley type riot is the Holy Grail of the far right’s politics, and what they most want to provoke, and TV picture of young Asian lads fighting with the EDL or cops is what the far-right most fervently hope for)

    The task of the left is first to understand, and only when you have understood, then decide how to act.

    the EDL are not (yet) a fascist organisatiopn, and many of them do not consider themselves to be racists. They are ideologically reflecting mainstream anti-Islamic prejudice in the context of a colonial war where British soldiers are being killed and maimed by the taliban; and they are mainly composed of poorly-educated and culturally impoverished working class men, and the EDL have also managed to mobilse behind them several firms of highly handy hooligans.

    the task of the left is to reduce the tension not increase it.

    We need to organise peaceful mass celebrations of multi-culturalism in solodarity with the communitie undrr attack, and put as much political pressure on the police and Home Secretary to treat the EDL’s protests as ublic order problems, not political manifestations.

    we need to understand the hooligan mind-set, and not provide them with the ritual theatre they love, and not big up the UAF as if it were a rival firm that wants to take them on. The UAF runs the risk of consolidating the politics of the EDL, not undermining them.

    What is most depressing is the arrognace, and unwillingness to constructively be self-critcal by the UAF, who seem intent on learning nothing, and listening to no-one, while they apply a model from the 1070s when the circumstances are different, and they don’t even have the ability to deliver it.

  86. LarryN on said:

    #100. Tell us all, one demo against the EDL that was peaceful?
    Socialist are more interested in the battle of ideals than turning confrontation into a battle for Victoria Square, Bolton.

    The UAF statements before an after the Bolton rumble clearly shows that their only goal was conflict. They are turning the undecided voters against the left

    In another time period such as Cable St, one can understand why public disorder was inevitable but not in the present day when we have more platforms and organisations to combat racists and lumpen elements that gravitate to the Evil Defence League.

    Then again if your a committed anti fascist like Mr Galloway, the the UAF political masters ban you of the UAF Oxford Platform. Obviously many of us despaired when the UAF are involved and Bolton is the classic trojan horse example.They are a public relations disater to communities and a millstone round the neck of the left.

  87. I think its a bit disturbing that, whatever tactical differences, there is not more unity on the left against the attempt of the Police to criminalise anti-racism and opposing the Nazis (is it an offence to want to see racism smashed now?), and the ludicrous media attempt to demonise anti-racists and anti-fascists. But KriSs is right it is now quite clear that, on this subject at least, this is not a site to have a debate about it.

  88. reader on said:

    #106. “Tell us all, one demo against the EDL that was peaceful?”

    There are many. But here’s one I was at: 24 October 2009 in Newport. Totally peaceful, UAF organised a large part of it (see picture in Argus), but many groups involved. If you can’t accept that many people in the UAF and those at their protests are peaceful and do not want violence, I suggest you shut up as you clearly know nothing about the organisation or most of its supporters. You seem as delusional as those calling for the UAF to sweep or smash the nazis off the street. Delusional, factually incorrect, and unhelpful.

    http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/4701904.350_at_Newport_protest_march/#

  89. Pierre on said:

    Kriss says this blog is not the place to discuss anti-fascist tactics. Where is? Perhaps Lenin’s Tomb, where some kid who came on and gave an accurate eye-witness account of what happened in Bolton got slapped down because it contradicted the SWP’s fantasy fiction.

    The SWP is trying to dodge blame for yesterday’s events by rewriting history and lying to the rest of the left. Sadly for them, the Bolton News had a webcam on a rooftop overlooking Victoria Square which provided a live feed on the internet – so everyone could see the UAF attacking the police. They also saw the moment when the EDL arrived and filled their half of the square.

    There may have been isolated skirmishes in town but the two sides did not confront each other physically which is why the SWP’s claim that the UAF drove the EDL out of the square is so absurd.

    The EDL had more people. It had harder people. It had a better relationship with GMP. Yet we’re expected to believe that the police hustled the EDL out the square for their own protection!

    The truth is that the main body of EDL mustered on the edge of the town centre, marched to the square (as several YouTube videos show), held their rally for about an hour and a half and then were moved out by the police and their stewards who controlled the more undisciplined thugs who started chucking bottles and were itching for a confrontation with the UAF and especially the Muslim youth in their enclosure.

    The EDL/Casuals United forums are full of cocky, upbeat comments saying it was a great day and looking forward to Dudley. After yesterday’s fiasco, can the UAF honestly say the same?

  90. “What is most depressing is the arrognace, and unwillingness to constructively be self-critcal by the UAF, who seem intent on learning nothing, and listening to no-one, while they apply a model from the 1070s when the circumstances are different, and they don’t even have the ability to deliver it.”

    Andy, surely you must be able to see through the red baiting of Pierre and other Zionists from Harry’s Place? As other posters here have commented, when has anyone taken police information as fact? Do you honestly believe Weyman would ever attack the police or behave in any way like the EDL? You claim you were once in the SWP so come on get real!

    And are we to believe the BBC is more trustworthy than Channel 4 who made that incredibly dishonest programme about Tower Hamlets recently? The BBC showcased Griffin on their main political show to get extra ratings. I’m surprised that you can’t see through police and media bias in this case as well.

  91. Rorschach on said:

    There are obvious reasons why the left relying on good publicity in the mainstream media and on the police to deal with thugs, fascist or otherwise, is a disastrous strategy. When were left mobilizations ever popular in the right wing press? And surely the structural and political conservatism of the police means they will tend to err to the right in policing these struggles. It would hardly be surprising if a few turn out to be covert members or advisors to the EDL. A strategy aimed at impressing the police and media simply will not do, particularly when we face a generational struggle against the politics of despair, where, to be sure, they will play the usual reactionary role.

    The question of whether the left can mobilize the resources and support necessary to drive back the EDL decisively is a serious one, however, and a ratio of 1:1, or 2:1 clearly will not do. We have to do better. Cultural and political events are certainly vital tools in our armoury and they help us mobilize. But, for all the old reasons ideological struggle isn’t enough and it won’t protect Asian communities. I see no reason at all to abandon the classic ANL ‘same time, same place’ strategy. When next an Asian community is attacked, the left will only have credibility if it has previously been seen standing side by side with Asian youth, as we did in Birmingham and again yesterday, even if the numerical odds are against us. It is what they think that matters, not the press. If we give up the streets to the EDL, we’re handing their victims gift-wrapped to Islamic fundamentalism.

  92. Andy Newman, your post #104, if it is genuinely you, is absolutely disgraceful.
    The BBC, at the behest of GMP press office, blames the UAF for violence and you accept it without question and stick the boot in.
    There are debates around tactics to be had but it is beneath contempt to line up with those who seek to demobilize the anti fascist movement and allow the EDL to march unhindered on the streets.
    Again, well done to everyone involved in yesterdays events.

  93. richsw on said:

    @109: ‘Bolton News had a webcam on a rooftop overlooking Victoria Square which provided a live feed on the internet – so everyone could see the UAF attacking the police. They also saw the moment when the EDL arrived and filled their half of the square.’ Not on the Bolton News I followed all day yesterday, it doesn’t.

    Also: ‘(as several YouTube videos show), held their rally for about an hour and a half and then were moved out by the police and their stewards who controlled the more undisciplined thugs who started chucking bottles and were itching for a confrontation with the UAF and especially the Muslim youth in their enclosure’. YouTube may show this, but you have to be looking pretty hard. All the vids I see show precisely the opposite.

    Go on, admit it. You’re making it up.

  94. All the reports for anti-nazis, journalists in Bolton and the video evidence shows that the EDL were well down in numbers compared to Manchester and Leeds. In contrast anti-nazis arrived in large numbers and were able to stop the police breaking up our demo.

    The problem was that the police allowed the EDL to roam freely while attacking and kettling anti-nazis and the police lied about the numbers of demonstrators. Without police protection the EDL would have been driven out of the square much earlier.

    The only thing the EDL are trying to claim now is that the media didn’t call them thugs but in no way did it make them look respectable. In terms of numbers the racists know it was a very poor turn out for them compared to Stoke. This was supposed to be their big break through and it didn’t materialise. In contrast anti-nazis were there in large numbers, managed to repel the full force of a police attack and stopped the racist and Zionist scum from rioting.

  95. neprimerimye on said:

    The comments made by Andy Newman represent a new low for the comrade. Rather than seek to confront fascists and proto-fascists such as the EDL he would have us hold music festivals miles away from attempts by the brownshirts to take control of the streets.

    Thus far at the demonstration outside their parliament and in Bolton UAF can calim victories – but only on points! And in the case of Bolton because the local Asian youth rallied to us. The point, of course, is that the local community recognise the community of interest they have with the left and the workers movement.

    Andy by contrast would surrender to the same media that lies about strikes and has been waging a war against BA cabincrew for months now. When attacking our Unite sisters and brothers they call upon the services of their courts and when attacking anti-fascists the services of their police. The result is the same and the enemy is too.

    No demonisation of unionists or anti-fascists.

    On to Dudley!

    NO PASARAN!

  96. Ray – respect to you for keeping going in the face of some appalling nonsense, but I really do think that, on this question, this blog is not the place for us.

  97. Armchair on said:

    #112 Eddie I think Andy is talking about the perception people will have from the BBC, not quoting them as a reliable source.

    Perceptions are important (otheerwise why have banners and placards?)and it is simply childish for people not to take this into account when deciding their tactics or behaviour, particularly given that we don’t control the mass media.

    This includes how activists relate to each other in public, be it on demonstrations or public forums such as this blog.

    There are times when what has been achieved completely outweighs any negative press coverage, but there are also times when it doesn’t.

  98. “Ray – respect to you for keeping going in the face of some appalling nonsense, but I really do think that, on this question, this blog is not the place for us.”

    I think there have been some really supportive comments from anti-nazis in this thread and I welcome that but I agree that it’s mainly full of Harry’s Place trolls who are intent on promoting Islamophobia and attacking anything that undermines it. I’m surprised that Andy is willing to believe their lies after Respect has experienced similar attacks and slander in Tower Hamlets.

  99. well what is interesting here is the attempt by UAF supporters to delegitimise and anathamatise any discussion of whether their tactics were correct.

    For sure the police are biased and have the power of the state behind them, the media lie, etc, etc.

    I would have thought that a sophisticated left would take those things into account, rather than run into them head on.

    Set aside the issue of how you personally feel you did. the suiccess or other wise shoudl be judged against the impact on mainstream political opinion, and most crucially upon the EDl themselves.

    Nothing that happened yesterday weakened the EDL. The near unanimous condemndnation of the EDL before the demonstration, with the excellent “One Bolton Pledge” initiative, etc, has given way to near unanimous condemnation of the UAF in the mainstream.

    The EDL will have enjoyed an exciting day out, basking in media attention, and will be looking forard to the next one.

    Now you can shout me down, but I make these criticisms because I am motivated by wanting to defeat the EDL, and all they stand for.

  100. sorry one more: Armchair what ‘behaviour’ are you talking about? We have just seen vicious attacks by the police on anti-racist demonstraters, a media which is so cut to pieces by neo-liberalism that they just rely on police press statements (there are issues here for journalists that go beyond the ideological ones), and the arrest of leading anti-fascist campaigners on entirely and obviously trumped up charges. Debates about tactics are always legitimate. But I would expect any socialist to lead with a thorough repudiation of all those things. The fact that this is notable by its absence is frankly shocking.

  101. Pierre on said:

    The SWP really are a shower. First they smear left critics as “Harry’s Place Zionists” – as an anti-war socialist active in Palestinian solidarity work, I don’t really fit that description.

    Then they just lie and lie about what happened, even claiming the EDL march on Parliament as a victory for antifascism. In fact, several hundred fascist thugs marched past the House of Commons while a few dozen UAF stood impotently behind police lines. The whole antifascist movement has questions to answer as to how this was allowed to happen.

    Ray – you have zero credibility. Your narrative is unwavering, regardless of circumstance: before every EDL event you hype it as a Lewisham style confrontation that ‘everyone’ is mobilising for. After every EDL event you proclaim victory, talk about how demoralised the EDL must be and declare that only the presence of the police protected the EDL from a beating at the hands of antifascists.

    What purpose do your lies serve? You’re not demoralising the EDL: almost none of them visit Socialist Unity or Lenin’s Tomb. You’re not persuading antifascists, many of who have first-hand experience of the gap between the SWP-sanctioned account and our own first-hand experience of the same events. Perhaps you are simply trying to cheer yourself up.

    Serious socialists should confront hard truths in order to develop strategies to overcome them, not retreat into comforting lies. Fellow SWP cadre Kriss is advising you not to debate on here: perhaps he realises that your fantasy is too flimsily constructed to withstand open discussion.

  102. #119

    JOhn

    Until we know whether Weyman is actually going to be prosecuted we are constrained by what we can say – because we need to stand in solidarity with him, and not provide any succor to the prosectution.

    My concern however is mainly with how to stop the EDL.

    Most people will not get their information about Bolton from left blogs, they will get it from the mainstream media; and you are making a huge error of you think that UAF in opposition to the EDL taps into mass-popular anti-facsist mood.

    What you need to get your head around is that the EDL are a manifestation of relatively mainstream islamophobia, fed by the daily Express and Daily Star.

    We have a hard job on to turn this around, and seeking to deleigitimise criticism of UAF is indefencible on your part.

  103. neprimerimye on said:

    #118 “well what is interesting here is the attempt by UAF supporters to delegitimise and anathamatise any discussion of whether their tactics were correct.”

    Those criticisms of the tactics used yesterday consisting, from what I can see, of suggesting that the EDL are left unopposed in the future. Sad stuff Andy very sad stuff.

  104. #122

    “suggesting that the EDL are left unopposed in the future”

    No – i am suggesting opposing them in ways that politically undermine and demobilise them, not in ways that help them consolidate and motivate them to continue.

  105. Pierre on said:

    It’s worth restating that there are now lots of videos on YouTube that give the lie to the SWP’s various claims.

    The advent of the phonecam has done much to undermine the ability of the SWP to win arguments as to fact by shouting a lie loudly and in unison. People can now simply log on and see the truth for themselves.

  106. dennis on said:

    There has never been one single time in the history of anti racist struggle in Britain when a physical confrontation with racist organisations by anti-racists, or an attempt to physically confront them, has received a favourable or un-distorted media reaction. Not once.

    After Lewisham the Daily Mail screamed “Bobbies pay the price for freedom”. The Guardian depicted the anti-fascists as violent extremists, as did the BBC. After the march in Welling was attacked by the cops it was the same story.

    Those obsessed with media perceptions should think through what leaving the EDL to strut around the streets unopposed would really mean, and what confidence it would give to every bigot who feels they have a ‘legitimate’ concern about muslims but hasn’t yet thought of joining an EDL march. And the comment that Asian communities ‘might’ need to defend themselves ‘if policing fails’ (although they should consider before they do how that would play out in the press, of course) would be laughable if it weren’t quite so disgraceful.

    But yes, I also agree that, given some of the comments, this is not a productive place to discuss this further.

  107. Armchair on said:

    #119 “Behaviour” is partially a general point. To the extent it was specific it referred to a recent incident much discussed on a previous thread where a leading activist apparantly very publically had a go at one of the UAF leaders.

    I am not going to discuss anyone’s “behaviour” yesterday because (a) I wasn’t able to be there and (b) reasons which your comrade Kriss has hinted at and Andy has referred to.

  108. #125

    “Those obsessed with media perceptions should think through what leaving the EDL to strut around the streets unopposed would really mean, and what confidence it would give to every bigot who feels they have a ‘legitimate’ concern about muslims but hasn’t yet thought of joining an EDL march.”

    But your SWP reports suggest that the police kettled the UAF, so how were you “stopping” the EDL?

    the police held the line against the EDL, our task is to create the political context where the police see the EDl as the problem they are

  109. ECOLEFTY on said:

    One big problem is that the SWP/UAF have failed to mobilise many from outside their ranks. Part of this is due to the low opinion of them on the rest of the left. I for one can’t accept that the EDL can march though our towns and cities unopposed.

  110. “The SWP really are a shower. First they smear left critics as “Harry’s Place Zionists” – as an anti-war socialist active in Palestinian solidarity work, I don’t really fit that description.”

    That’s strange, Pierre you’ve never commented on here before. You suddenly materialise to attack anti-nazis.

    “It’s worth restating that there are now lots of videos on YouTube that give the lie to the SWP’s various claims.”

    Like that video you linked to that showed at most 500 EDL being escorted by the police? Perhaps you are including the police and casual shoppers as part of their contingent?

    “Serious socialists should confront hard truths in order to develop strategies to overcome them, not retreat into comforting lies.”

    Your concern trolling is touching but Harry’s Place is missing you.

    “What you need to get your head around is that the EDL are a manifestation of relatively mainstream islamophobia, fed by the daily Express and Daily Star.”

    I think you are very out of touch Andy. The New of the World recently exposed the EDL as violent thugs and the comments section is full of people condemning them. You are buying into the police hype.

  111. Rorschach on said:

    Re: my #111, I’m still baffled as to why we should consider the police potentially reliable allies in this struggle, or how doing so will leave the left with any credibility with Asian youth when they are attacked by the EDL and victimized by the police for defending their communities?

    Should we have been there yesterday to show solidarity with the Asian youth, or just left them to protest on their own?

  112. richsw on said:

    You see, Andy, it’s not a matter of ‘delegitimising’, it’s a matter of disagreeing, and being met (I mean from yesterday, when the demo was barely underway) with lies and, well, deligitimising.

    Here’s what I mean, @124: ‘It’s worth restating that there are now lots of videos on YouTube that give the lie to the SWP’s various claims.

    The advent of the phonecam has done much to undermine the ability of the SWP to win arguments as to fact by shouting a lie loudly and in unison. People can now simply log on and see the truth for themselves.

    This isn’t so – just by logging on, you get the opposite impression, plus a lot of EDL propaganda recorded mostly before the demo. The same poster talked earlier in the thread about the Bolton News’ camera, but it, all day yesterday, showed precisely opposite to what s/he claims.

    Now I know s/he has an agenda, but you can see this too, and therefore recognise it as the impediment to discussion it is (and intended to be). That is, your views on this are undermined by your encouragement of the sillies who post here.

  113. “police confirm uaf demonstrators let off smoke bomb earlier”

    This was a text update on the Bolton News twitter feed at about 12pm yesterday. It shows how the police were fabricating incidents to demonise the UAF. Apparently, the Bolton News live link became “faulty” and went off air at about the time that it became apparent that UAF clearly outnumbered the EDL and the police were attacking anti-nazis.

  114. Pierre on said:

    Ray – you are becoming ever more ridiculous: there WAS a smoke bomb, let off by some wannabe urban guerrilla in the UAF ranks.

    And the Bolton News live video feed went off air because they ran out of batteries, not because agents of the state were desperate to conceal something.

    Here’s the section of the video that shows the EDL entering the square. Scroll forward to 5.30:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncp7DMtXMAk&feature=fvsr

    This is the mob of thugs you think needed protecting from the UAF. LOL!

    Incidentally, which idiot thought this was a good slogan to have at the front of the UAF demo? Talk about framing the debate in accordance with the EDL narrative.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBQYUmEUfRw

    The UAF should listen to antifascists like Andy instead of smearing them and lying to the left.

  115. #129

    “I think you are very out of touch Andy. The New of the World recently exposed the EDL as violent thugs and the comments section is full of people condemning them. You are buying into the police hype.”

    Yes, they are condemned for their thuggishness, but not for their Islamophobia.

  116. #128

    “I for one can’t accept that the EDL can march though our towns and cities unopposed.”

    But there is a debate about HOW to oppose them.

    For one thing if they were MARCHING, then they could be banned, it is only the static protests that have shown a a lacuna in state powers of proscription.

    By all means show solidarity, through a peaceful, popular celebration of multi-culturalism; and work with the mianstream community activists worried about the hooliganism of the EDL, and put presure on the cops to restrain them.

    Only if that fails do we need to use self-defence

  117. LarryN on said:

    #108, It is you that is being delusional. Did the EDL turn up? According to reports, they did not. Tell us their numbers? Better still send us a newspaper report

    The point being made is, there is a better way than violent public disorder, that alienates communities and people.

  118. After Reading a selection of posts I’ve decided to pretty much ignore the rest and post a few points so apologies if already been made.

    I was one of the contigent holding the sidestreet to the square. I’ve absolutely no qualms facing off to pigs and have little, if any, respect for them, but I can categorically say that at no point in the whole day did I see UAF supporters become ‘violent’ or provoke the disgraceful response from the Police.
    To then blame UAF that it came off badly for them in the press is bizarre. I’ve said this before but how can we at all be responsible for what the press and unsympathetic police report? The pigs have shown that they have no time for these anti-racist mobilisations; M Smith and W Bennet arrested early on for incitement to violence?

    To pass verdict on a demonstration by how the media reports it is a particularly wrong analysis. Sure it’s always helpful if reported in a positive light but yesterday was still the right thing to do and it’s absolutely right to mobilise against the EDL whether the BBC likes it or not.

    MRD

  119. neprimerimye on said:

    #123 “No – i am suggesting opposing them in ways that politically undermine and demobilise them, not in ways that help them consolidate and motivate them to continue.”

    The bestway to demoralise them is to deny them the ability to demonstrat. Which cannot but mean that we must confront them. And if our ability to mobilise is not yet on a par with the late 1970s then we must run stalls to get the word out inbto the communities and we must take the message back into the class.

    The alternative is defeatism.

  120. “The UAF should listen to antifascists like Andy instead of smearing them and lying to the left.”

    Take a look at the photos by Bolton News of the EDL demo. There are about 800 on their demo at the most. That is unless all the EDL are sardines and the cops standing next to them are all the size of Shrek. Then they might add up to 2000. Photographic evidence by Bolton News completely contradicts your lies. Crawl back to HP and bullshit there. That’s what it’s there for.

  121. Pierre on said:

    Ray – please do us the courtesy of linking to those Bolton news photos you mention.

    The same Bolton News you cite as proof of your argument also said explicitly that there were 2000 EDL. BN had at least three reporters on the ground so why would they give this figure if they could see for themselves that it was crap?

    The BN coverage was accurate if unhelpful from an antifascist perspective. For example:

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/5074134.UPDATE__Officers_praised_following_Bolton_demonstration/

    BTW – did you think that placing an ALLAH IS THE GREATEST banner at the front of an anti-EDL demo was good politics?

  122. prianikoff on said:

    #139

    Pierre we’ve already established that police agents have been at work as provocateurs on these demos for sometime.

    Serving officers who received injuries must now be wondering if they were done over by their compadres in the shadowy “Serpico” units the plpd fill with these smelly misfit crusties.

    They’re also quite capable of dressing up as Muslms and carrying stupid banners like the one you described, not to mention the idiotic slogans used in Luton to kick of this whole set of shenanigans.

    UAF should obviously tailor their activities accordingly, which means stewards ejecting such people from the demonstrations.
    They are clearly NOT getting enough people along to these counter demonstrations.
    But every movement against modern fascists started small and then grow.
    So it’s a case of must do better, not bury your head in the sand and imagine it will go away, or that demonstrations will get any bigger by being vague pro-multiculturalism jamborees.

  123. Fleabite on said:

    Im not interested in entering into a mindless Left sectarian squabbles, suffice to say that at this moment in time we need, urgently need to create a growing united anti racist and anti fascist movement by having a constructive discussion amongst all interested bodies,concerned and affected individuals and communities about how best and most effectively we can all work together,through organisation, coordination and cooperation in creating both viable broad political alliances and Left alternatives and solid widespread opposition to the threat of the EDL and other such entities, the growth of the fascist racist BNP,the racist right wing UKIP coupled with the renascent thatcherite tories under Eton boy.

    Lessons need to be learnt and learnt well from the past and recent past and the present disunity is a price and luxury will can ill afford.

    In fact there are many parallels between now with the fight against “defence leagues” and the BNP and with the 1930’s and the struggle against Mosley and the Black shirts of the BUF.

    UNITED WE STAND
    DIVIDED WE FALL

    PS.The Bristol anti fascist meeting illustrates that the fash is willing to go on to the offensive against the Left and we need to wake up to this fact and plan accordingly which means that we need to radically improve and further develop our own self defence,intelligence and comunications systems.

    A few years ago in 2008 I attended a UAF demonstration in London which had a pitifully low turnout, when only a while further back the love music hate racism(LMHR) had organised a free concert which apparenlty attracted up to a hundred thousand in which case there is significant dis…connection going on somewhere which needs to be urgently addressed.

    Love music hate racism and fascism

  124. Ian Croft on said:

    “M Smith and W Bennet arrested early on for incitement to violence?”

    [CONTENT DELETED]

  125. doom n gloom on said:

    140# They’re also quite capable of dressing up as Muslms and carrying stupid banners like the one you described
    Ah Ha with the uniformed police in the middle, police agents in the UAF ranks and the EDL full of young off duty policemen I can see where this is leading, it is a dire plot by the Police Asssociation to ensure they are not affected by any forthcoming cuts and increase overtime.Ingenious.
    In the words of the 4 Skins A.C.A.B.

  126. #142, so now we’re into the territory of applauding the arrest of anti fascists and doing a spot of narking.
    The SWP comrades are right, Socialist Unity is not a safe place for anti fascists.

  127. Pierre on said:

    143 – excellent!

    And don’t forget the police agents at the Bolton News, draining their own batteries to break the live video feed.

  128. lone nut on said:

    “They’re also quite capable of dressing up as Muslms and carrying stupid banners like the one you described, not to mention the idiotic slogans used in Luton to kick of this whole set of shenanigans.

    UAF should obviously tailor their activities accordingly, which means stewards ejecting such people from the demonstrations.”
    They should eject people who dress up as Muslims (whatever that means, incidentally)?

  129. Ian Croft on said:

    Eddie if the hard-left want to fight a street war with the EDL fine but don’t organise a peaceful protest open to all and then try to turn it into a violent confrontation. On the demo in Manchester we had the elderley, mothers with kids (icluding 1 with a child so young he was in a pram!), a few disabled people and at least 1 pregnant woman. What kind of socialist would try to start a battle which would put those people at risk?

    It is callous, reckless and without honour.

  130. #147, Ian Croft, you applauded the arrest of anti fascists, indeed you said that it should have been done sooner.
    Anti fascists are not interested in your opinions.

  131. #144

    “The SWP comrades are right, Socialist Unity is not a safe place for anti fascists.”

    yawn. the content has been deleted.

    Look, this is the trouble.

    Comrades have been arrested, and until we know whether charges will be brought, then it is very hard to discuss the specifics.

    The should be nothing posted here which aids a prosecution.

    But equally the SWP should not use Weynamn’s arrest to prevent their right royal fuck up in Bolton being subject to scrutiny

  132. #142
    yea, it’s great to see anti-fascists arrested. Tankie douche.
    Even if M Smith had ‘sent young SWP members’ to the police line, that is not incitement to violence, regardless of what you ‘assume’. Alas I’m absolutely confident you’re chatting bollocks.
    It’s rather sad to see people on the left seeing anti-fascist mobilisations as the bigger enemy than the Nazi protection police or the fash themselves.

    Ian, were you in Bolton yesterday?

    MRD

  133. #150
    out of ignorance Andy, I’ve not read all the posts here. So I’m interested in how you qualify yesterday as a ‘right royal fuck up’?

    MRD

  134. ECOLEFTY on said:

    The real problem is the faliure of SWP/UAF to attract enough people outside their orbit on to these marches.

    No one else seems to have come up with alternatives to the UAF strategy.

  135. Ian Croft on said:

    “Ian, were you in Bolton yesterday?”

    No, one encounter with plastic revolutionaries was enough for me. At one point I standing at the very front of a demo, a few school kids and students around me, not one of them older than 18 including one girl who was about 4ft qhwn some brave Reds, all the way at back, decided to push people in front of them forcing us peaceful protestors into a crush with the police.

    If the police line had broken there would have been violent chaos and those people at the front, kids who had done nothing but remain peaceful, would have taken the worst of it.

    The cowardly scum at the back should have been ashamed of themselves. Happily throwing kids into battle with riot police, dogs, horses and EDL thugs is beneath contempt.

  136. #150; “But equally the SWP should not use Weynamn’s arrest to prevent their right royal fuck up in Bolton being subject to scrutiny”
    I’m no apologist for the SWP but that, frankly, is total bollocks Andy.
    Your political journey may have gone from revolutionary socialist to cheerleader for New Labour but your yearning for respectability and kudos from the establishment has led you to seek to denigrate those who are actively combating the embryonic fascist street fighting gangs.
    Just read the right wing trolls above applauding you, that tells you everything.

  137. Lot’s of criticism of the UAF and SWP.

    But what the hell else are others doing to stop the EDL and BNP? That’s what it comes down to, and if you’re not getting people out on to the streets as the first step towards this goal, you’re not doing anything.

  138. #154

    “to denigrate those who are actively combating the embryonic fascist street fighting gangs.”

    I am intersted in what stops the EDL, and so far al the evidence is that the UAF’s strategy doesn’t work.

  139. Armchair on said:

    Eddie quote the right wing trolls applauding Andy.

    You had a public stand-up row with UAF only a few weeks ago, so let’s get a sense of perspective here.

  140. It is ridiculous to suggest that there was UAF violence when the police attacked and rioted on the anti-fascists (the only police injuries were a dog bite and a sprained finger!).
    Yesterday was a struggle but a clear victory to anyone that is actually interested and/or involved in stopping EDL fascists.
    Clearly some of you would like to use police figures, police arrests, police charges, and media coverage to announce a victory for the EDL and your own sectarian politics.
    Yet the facts are clear about the UAF counter-demo.
    -It mobilised thousands of anti-fascists
    -It mobilised at least 800-1000 LOCAL anti-fascists despite racist police efforts of trying everything they could to stop muslims from demonstration
    -It outnumbered the EDL (except for a 1-2hr period where an EDL delegation arrived and large amounts of anti-fascists were still being
    -It showed the people of Bolton that there is an anti-racist, anti-fascist majority ready to take to the streets
    -The EDL were confronted and demoralised in a number of places around the city and collectively they were constantly out-chanted and out-spirited by our electric demonstration.
    -The vast majority of people that came, left in a celebratory mood
    -It was very clear that most people would come back and do the sam again.
    -The media weren’t able to report on an unchallenged anti-muslim demonstration and instead had to report
    -The EDL weren’t able to attack muslims or scare them into staying at home
    -The islamophobic media weren’t able to announce a large anti-muslim protest instead they had to focus on notions of a clash between the “far-right” and “anti-fascists”

  141. *-It outnumbered the EDL (except for a 1-2hr period where an EDL delegation arrived and large amounts of anti-fascist delegations including local young muslims, some scottish coaches and london coaches were still being blocked off by the police. However, even though they weren’t in the square I think we can still say that in numbers we constantly outnumbered the EDL)

  142. Anonymous on said:

    #150

    Andy, still want to know why you think yesterday in Bolton was a ‘right royal fuck up’

    MRD

  143. prianikoff on said:

    #146 Well chosen moniker ‘lone nut’.
    I was referring to their provocateur slogans, not their dress.
    (I’m sure one or two I’ve seen on demos over the years actually *aren’t* Muslims)

  144. Fleabite on said:

    I think the anti racist anti fascist Left should dig a bit deeper in terms of exposing the roots of fascism in Britain.

    Interestingly,it would apear that Samantha Cameron, wife Eton Rifle Dave the eldest daughter of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet, a landowner and three times a descendant from King Charles II of England, by his first marriage to Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones. Samantha’s parents divorced after five years of marriage. Her mother remarried, to William Astor, 4th Viscount Astor, a Minister in John Major’s government, and is now styled as Viscountess Astor.

    Cameron grew up on the 300-acre (1.2 km2) estate of Normanby Hall, five miles (8 km) north of Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire. Her family also owns a large Yorkshire estate called Sutton Park.
    ————————————————————————–

    Apparently elements of the aristocratic Astor’s and the Sheffield’s mixed closely with Mosley and held lavish fundraising parties for the BUF during the thirties at various of thier numerous very stately homes to say nothing of how much of a filthy fascist imperialist was Edward Windsor and Mrs Simpson and their links with Mosley, Hitler, Mussolini and Franco and high up’s within both the US imperialist establishment and the American Nazi party.

    No pasaran !

  145. Salford Red on said:

    I was in Bolton, and I want to write a factual and reasonably unbiased account of what I saw, leaving commentary and criticism to others, but I dont think I’ll be able to give an honest account of what happened without critisizing UAF. I know it’s a cliché to blanket critcize the SWP, but on this occasion I think their conduct deserves it.

    Firstly, the police were heavy handed and violent towards us from the outset, with little or no provocation that I could see. Before anyone criticizes any of their comrades about what went wrong in Bolton, just remember that the police were completely out of control. The dogs were set loose on people for no reason, I saw one person get bitten just for having the rotten luck to be in the dogs path, and subsequently get taken to hospital with quite serious arm injuries. These initial ructions began at 9:30 and carried on for the next 2 hours.

    After assembling in the square and seeing the barriers and portaloo’s they’d provided it was quite clear that we were going to be kettled all day, so some people tried to keep the exits to the square open and not let the police box us in so easily. The EDL had been sneaking people into our crowd through these exit points the police had set up, so early on I stood on one of the exits with a few people, trying to spot potential EDL and point them out. I feel the Police allowed people who were clearly EDL into our section of the crowd and put a lot of innocent people in danger by doing so. I also think that the UAF stewards, with a few very important exceptions, were too busy trying to set up their stalls and PA systems and get the generators going to cover the exits and keep an eye on what was going on. Despite trying to keep the exits clear, any attempts to get freedom of movement were short lived, and after about 10am all attempts to get out of the kettle were met with hostility from the police. The police manhandled anyone who tried to move through the choke-points they had created, and this is what led to the hostile atmosphere between the UAF and the police early on.

    Between about 10-12 the police gradually became more and more hostile, refusing to allow groups of protestors from getting into the kettle to protest, resuting in chants of “Let them in” from the UAF PA system. As the situation was getting more heated, the police made the decision to arrest Martin Smith and Weymann Bennet by sending two snatch squads of riot police into the crowd to pick them up. I saw people putting up a brave fight in front of the police to prevent them being nicked, but the subsequent reaction of the SWP Martin Smith loyalists after this happened was ridiculous. A lot of them fell to bits, some bordering on the hysterical, and the only thing I saw them do in response was try to provoke chants of “let martin go”, which seems like a pretty weak strategy to fall back on when your leadership has been arrested. I had briefly spoken to Weymann Bennett before he was arrested, when things began to get more heated and arrests were being made made, and asked him “what’s the plan here Weymann?”, and perhaps my total anonymity to the SWP elite was a factor in him being tight-lipped, but he didn’t seem to have any kind of strategy at all. He looked like a very worried man to me.

    After the arrests, the SWP contingent were angry and leaderless, so the UAF stewards started to tell everyone to link arms and “hold the line” against the police, thereby ignoring the EDL gathering on the other side of the barriers. People were being encouraged to stand away from the EDL and direct their anger at the police. I could not for the life of me think why we should’ve done this, and I had it out with a few red-shirted stewards making this very point. There were no EDL on the other side of the police, only our own protestors who were just as hopelessly kettled as we were, and the police were allowing people to leave in ones and two’s if you needed to get out. I remember getting dragged into a pushing and shoving match with the police, out of pure herd mentality, then walking off around the side of the police lines and getting behing them without any hindrance! Then they let me back i! What’s also telling is that the UAF only attempted to do this when they knew the police were in sufficient numbers to handle it, they were not so keen to do it when they had a realistic chance of getting out of there through police lines. Very confused tactics. I personally feel they just wanted to link arms and push the police, partially out of revenge for their dear leader being arrested, and partially because I think they feel that’s what constitutes direct action, a bit of “we shall not be moved” and linking arms. Just going through the motions. There’s no point linking arms and chanting “we shall not be moved” when you’re kettled and unable to move anyway! It also led to people being needlessly arrested, good comrades of mine spent the night in jail and some of them are looking at serious charges for getting involved in that pointless waste of energy. I could mention names here, but I won’t, because I know the fash love reading this site, but you know who you are…

    In the meantime the EDL were on the other side of the fence, having a smoke, walking around unhindered, throwing lighters at people and generally being the sort of fascist scum you can imagine. Their numbers were very small for most of the day and those who did stand there and chant at them, rather than needlessly fight the police, did a good job of unnerving them. It was certainly more constructive than perpetually charging the police lines in the circumstances. By the time the main EDL contingent had arrived a lot of our best people had been arrested and others had been pushing and shoving the police for 3 hours and were dead tired. We were tired, demoralised, rainsoaked and bruised by the time they showed up.

    Their numbers weren’t that big, 2,000 was an exaggeration I’d say around 1,300 for them and around 1,500 for us, and for most of the day they only had around 100-200 Bolton inbreds stood gormlessly on the other side of the fence. Also, when me and my contingent left town, we were confused with being EDL by the police and sent down the street to where they being held. A group of about 12 of us had to walk through 60 EDL outside a town centre pub, who’s name I don’t want to mention, and despite their huge numerical advantage we not only walked through them unharmed but even stood and gave them some abuse, all without any hindrance or threat of retaliation. Their average age was about 17 and when I stood there and said to them, eyeball to eyeball, they were fighting on the same side as Adolf Hitler, they just looked at the ground and said nothing. Without their hardcore off the coaches, who I assume are footie hooligans, the EDL were not at all scary, and every face to face encounter I’ve had with them they’ve bottled it.

    The local asian youth were up for it this time, although they didn’t come ’til later, they seemed much smarter and better organized than the UAF. They didn’t get kettled, and they didn’t spend 4 hours in the rain being battered by the police. They arrived later, in small mobile groups with cars and backup, and cleared bolton of all the stray little groups of EDL that were lurking down the side streets. I don’t worry about the banner that says “allah is the greatest”, it’s just something to wind them up a bit, the same way they have American and Israeli and Anti-Nazi flags to piss us off. Not all the asian youth were associated with that banner anyway, some I heard even objected to it. It isn’t for me to judge to be honest.

    If we can take one thing from Bolton it is that the UAF are finished and the the SWP may well go down with it. I do not think putting the hopes of militant anti-fascism into the hands of a dying and outdated political sect, riven with factions and bitter personal disputes, is a smart idea. People should build demo’s locally, involve their trade unions, and when in the town centres try to be peaceful and co-operate with the police. If you want to confront fascists physically, do it in small groups, away from the peaceful protests, or even better do it before they even get into town. Small autonomous and mobile groups that have no names, no banners, no PA and no way of being kettled. That’s the way forward.

    I want to apologize to all the stauch comrades who I know in the SWP who were there that day and who weren’t responsible for the terrible strategic mistakes that were made. I’m not directing what i say here at the whole SWP, and I hope the good ones salvage something out of the organizations. Lions led by donkeys is a phrase that springs to mind.

  146. There are always lessons to be learned and tactics to be discussed, although I’m not sure that “squaddism” (as I think the small group confrontation strategy used to be called) is the way forward.

    I left the SWP several years ago so I’ve no axe to grind it that respect, but I have to say I find Andy’s strategy quite astonishing. Persuade the police to deal with the EDL? Do not do anything which might draw critism from the mainstream media? Do not call the EDL racists because some of them have innocently got involved simply looking for a punch-up, presumably oblivious to the racist slogans being chanted around them or in some sort of deep denial?

    Let the EDL march anywhere they like, and if local communities need to defend themselves we’ll deal with it afterwards?? If we can work out an acceptable media strategy I guess.

    This is complacency and abstentionism frankly. I’m with those who want to uphold the tradition that we don’t let racists and fascists march through our communities without opposition.

  147. Rorschach on said:

    Agreed #165. Squaddism isn’t a strategy for defeating the fascists, it reduces the struggle to fisticuffs between two groups of (usually white) men. I lost all respect for AFA when one of their members told me in the early 1990s that the local group had a pact with the Nazis not to trash each other’s houses. Just like the ritualized ruck between the Bushwhackers and the ICF.

  148. P-Doody on said:

    Thanks for your analysis, Salford Red, I’m impressed at your tactical genius and courage and am only slightly surprised that you haven’t provided a link to a picture of your no doubt gigantic penis.

    You gigantic penis.

  149. “Ray – please do us the courtesy of linking to those Bolton news photos you mention.”

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/photogallery/edl/view/gallery_139462.EDL_Rally_2010/

    Where were the other 1200 EDL, Pierre? At a Zionist meeting or down the pub perhaps?

    “You had a public stand-up row with UAF only a few weeks ago, so let’s get a sense of perspective here.”

    We’re on the same side against the racists and fascists and that’s what counts. I don’t know him personally but I’m sure Eddie contributed significantly to the Scottish demos. There are often disagreements about tactics on demos. It can get very heated at times but that’s understandable when there are a number of different factors and views to consider. Even though I can get fed up with this at times at least it means that we’re covering a variety of bases which I think is ultimately a strength.

    I think there will be a discussion among anti-nazis about how to deal with the aggressive approach of the police after London and Bolton. It appears that the police in Scotland took a less hands on approach but then the SDL were a lot smaller. We always have to adapt our tactics but it was impossible to predict the police aggression in Bolton.

    Just a little reminder of what the EDL stand for:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/04/fatwa-english-defence-league

  150. “If we can take one thing from Bolton it is that the UAF are finished and the the SWP may well go down with it.”

    I quite liked your assessment of the day up until this bit. While I don’t dispute that the uber aggressive tactics of the police took the organisers and the demonstrators by surprise this result is not something new or exclusive to the organisers of this demo.

    In the past, the police have attacked anti-nazi demos, picket lines and other protests but it is normally the case that they won’t reveal their intentions and pretend to negotiate with protesters right up until the last minute. It’s very difficult to have a watertight contingency plan when this happens because, unlike on a picket line where everyone is involved in local planning, there is little chance of briefing demonstrators from all over the UK beforehand. Hence the confusion. But the important thing is the demo held and the police did not manage to disperse it.

    Apart from what happened outside Parliament a few weeks ago the police response to anti-nazis has been much lower key for far. Their response in Bolton was unlike anything that anti-nazis have experienced so far since the EDL began. What anti-nazis will do is go away from an event like this and prepare more effectively in light of these new police tactics.

    What is important is to expose how the state protects these racist thugs while demonising Muslims. The UAF leadership are right to condemn the police for snatching demo organisers and to try to stop this from happening. Not only does the arrest of demo organisers sow confusion and create greater risk to demonstrators but it’s a blatant abuse of the law. Every time the state uses laws to prevent us from demonstrating we should expose them.

  151. Salford Red is spot on. UAF/SWP leadership are fairly clueless if they thought that they were going to stop the EDL marching by occupying half a square. It was a guaranteed kettle and while occupying that space was necessary for some ritualized theatre of shouting and waving banners etc and was a good tactic for those who were not up for more militant anti fascist activity, there should have been an alternative available in the same manner as in Glasgow and Edinburgh where a mobile crowd could have attempted to deny the EDL the space to march. However i readily admit that GMP were out to lift any opposition to their control over the UAF.

    Salford Red is correct as well in regard to the EDL- the majority of their people are young kids playing at Green Street and the minority are seasoned hoolies. We should not be fearful of the EDL so long as we mobilise the most militant anti fascists in a disciplined and coherent manner tactically and strategically.

    An alternative to UAF is long overdue in England and i hope it emerges very soon.

  152. Jim Carroll on said:

    Surely, the most important point about the days events was that the muslim youth, unlike the traditional left. had the tactical flexibility and mobility to escape police kettling. This, and the recent successes against the SDL in Glasgow and Edinburgh show that the traditional left has to move on from the tactics of the 1970s, particularly big mass static demos that probably be modelled in their evolution by any half competant police computer programmer. Events like yesterday are beginning to look about as relevant as WW1 trench warfare. Comrades in Europe seem to have a better grasp of things from what one reads.

  153. Rorschach on said:

    Jim

    I can live with the idea that the traditional left lacks tactical flexibility etc etc and that we can learn a lot from the Asian youth (I doubt they were all practising Muslims). But the fact is, if we are going to learn anything from them, and dare I say it maybe attract them to the left, we have to be there beside them, confronting the Nazis on the streets in our thousands. If we are not, they will look elsewhere for their ideas.

    As for the European left, its record in dealing with the Nazis is generally far worse than ours (e.g. le Pen). What do you have in mind?

  154. neprimerimye on said:

    #164 is stupid to say the least. I shall address two points raised by this fool.

    1/ “the subsequent reaction of the SWP Martin Smith loyalists after this happened (the abduction by force of Martin Smith) was ridiculous. A lot of them fell to bits, some bordering on the hysterical, and the only thing I saw them do in response was try to provoke chants of “let martin go”, which seems like a pretty weak strategy to fall back on when your leadership has been arrested.”

    This is ridiculous. The fact of the matter that at the stewards meeting the day prior to the demonstration Martin Smith said that he fully expected the police to attempt to arrest both him and Weyman Bennett. In other words the stewards were prepared for this evebtuqlity as were many of us on the coaches who had this information relayed to us. It was as a result of this that the stewards acted in a disciplined and sensible matter for the rest of the day.

    “After the arrests, the SWP contingent were angry and leaderless, so the UAF stewards started to tell everyone to link arms and “hold the line” against the police, thereby ignoring the EDL gathering on the other side of the barriers. People were being encouraged to stand away from the EDL and direct their anger at the police.”

    More arrant nonsense. If the SWP comrades were leaderless then there is no explanation as to how there was a continous stream of speakers including trades unionists and most inspiringly Paul Holborrow of the SWP. The reason the line had to be held is because the police were periodically trying to push us further back into the square in order that their snatch squads could operate more easily. Indeed by 4pm I estimate they had pshed us back by 5 metres or more. Ground lost that made it easier to mount the snatch squad operations and that is why it was important to link arms and defend the square against police attacks.

    “…perpetually charging the police lines”.

    Quite how by linking arms and defending ourselves against what the misnamed ‘Salford Red’ himself described as “heavy handed and violent” police action equates to charging the police I cannot understand. The fact is that at no point did we charge the police lines. Nor could we have done so.

  155. I will help you out a bit more as you are struggling and need all the help you can get.

    “After the arrests, the SWP contingent were angry and leaderless, so the UAF stewards started to tell everyone to link arms and “hold the line” against the police, thereby ignoring the EDL gathering on the other side of the barriers. People were being encouraged to stand away from the EDL and direct their anger at the police.”

    This was 2 hours before the EDL turned up.

    Man you gus are laughable.

  156. Police ban UAF leader Rhetta Moran from UAF meetings

    Dr Rhetta Moran is the joint secretary of Greater Manchester Unite Against Fascism.

    On Saturday in Bolton she was reading aloud messages sent to the Unite Against Fascism protest in support of maintaining Bolton’s multi-racial, multi-cultural community.

    While she was reading a message of support from Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, she was seized by riot police and removed from the UAF protest.

    “The police forced through the crowd, snatched and arrested me at 1pm. They released me at 11pm. I am not charged, but the bail conditions set is that until 10th May I am not to attend any EDL or UAF meeting or gathering anywhere in the country.

    “This is gross violation of my human rights and a completely ridiculous bail condition. Please circulate this story through your networks.

    “While I was detained in Bolton Police Station, police took my house keys, went to my home, and without a warrant took papers and copied my computer. They left notification.”

    statement from Rhetta Moran

  157. Riot Police knock 89 year old peace campaigner to the ground

    see video here
    http://manchesteruaf.org/

    Bertie Lewis served in World War Two in the war against Hitler. Many of his comrades serving with him in Bomber Command lost their lives

    Every week in Victoria Square, Bertie Lewis sits in his chair campaigning for peace and against unjust wars. He was part of a delegation of military families who took petitions to Gordon Brown last year calling for Troops Out of Afghanistan.

    “We fought the Nazis over there – what are these EDL Nazis doing here in Bolton today?” he said last Saturday. Bertie had joined the Unite Against Fascism protest against the racist EDL. He was in the designated Unite Against Fascism protest area. He was with other pensioners, and disabled people.

    TUSC candidate for Manchester, Gorton South, Nurse Karen Reissmann gave him medical assistance. No policeman came to see Bertie, nor did they ask about his health.

  158. First time I’ve felt compelled to post here…

    I was on the demo yesterday, and can honestly say it was the worst I’ve ever attended.

    Poorly organised and undisciplined. At best a no score draw between the anti-fascists and EDL. Infantile sloganeering from the SWP/UAF majority, and whilst I agree the police were pretty heavy handed, the organisers should have known that they didn’t need much excuse to stick their oar in. I’ve got no sympathy particularly for Bennett or Smith, who seem to get arrested every time for their excitable liberal antics and see it as some sort of notch on the bedpost achievement.

    Yesterday confirmed the UAF have no serious strategy for defeating racism and fascism and winning the support of working class people. The tactics that the stewards were advocating in order to “smash” the EDL would have been too incompetent to be considered by the scriptwriters of Dads Army. We won’t defeat the EDL by shouting “Scum”. We will only win by going into our estates and communities with a coherent alternative to the divisive message peddaled by the far right.

  159. @JM – Yes I’m sure being charged with incitement to cause violent disorder is a notch Weyman’s been waiting to pick up for a while, I bet he’s looking forward to the years in prison it potentially brings as well. Fucksake.

  160. Funny that the SWP have been amongst the most vociferous on the left calling for state proscriptions and intervention against the far right, but as always these powers are more likely to be deployed against the left.

  161. Bennet wont be going down – its just the state flexing its legal muscle and to act as a deterrent to others and cause a bit of disruption to the UAF/SWP.

  162. The ‘I’ve never posted here before’ troll needs to be added as a subset of the ‘concerned’ troll.
    Once again, well done to all of the UAF, SWP, wider socialist left and non aligned comrades who achieved a significant result from Saturday’s activities.
    After enduring a horrendous Edinburgh derby result I followed events on Twitter, Facebook and the Socialist Worker special news page they set up. If you add in the video on the Tomb, the material from the local press and the first hand accounts posted here, it is clear that the UAF comrades can claim a significant victory, most particularly because the armed bodies of men specifically set out to take out the leadership while simultaneously arresting large numbers of the front-line.
    The mountain of hostile responses here on SU are a testament to the victory that was won.
    Whatever your specific left political affiliation it is now vital to recognise that the embryonic fascist street fighting gangs can be defeated, not by engaging in thuggery or violence but by denying them space on the streets.
    Immediately we need to bring whatever solidarity we can to the comrades arrested on Saturday.

  163. Kenny, Not a EDL Supporterr on said:

    Ha, Ha

    What goes around comes around. You reds are a bunch of twats, think you are big when you get in a gang. But the truth of it is you are all a bunch of girls.

    All this talk of action on the street it makes me laugh so it does. Nazi this nazi that. Who cares what happened 70 years ago, its about what happening now. You all live in a fantasy land of world war II and fighting nazi’s and the so called fash. When it’s you lot that are the real fascists. Go back to your drugs or college, do us all a favour.

  164. The EDL is a bit more advanced than embryonic street fighting gangs their core is made up of street fighting firms and many have long form in far right activity. The point is the UAF didnt deny the EDL any space. They did what they were told by Bolton Council Labour ruled, and the GMP – their rerward? To be kettled, provoked by plod, beaten up and arrested. The EDL were all swaggering at will round Bolton, i know this cos i was walking through them after getting out of the kettle.

  165. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Competing truths here.

    As I said in my original post the stewarding and communication was poor.

    At 11.30am, while most protesters were still assembling, an attempt was made to march out of the UAF area in Victoria Square opposite side to the town hall by the shops, and into the EDL side of the square, before the EDL were anywhere near it. This was never part of the agreed plan, and good stewarding would have meant it wouldn’t have happened. However due to lack of direction it did. The net result was that the police moved swiftly – with horses – and with the marchers sandwiched between the shops and barriers, the police easily prevented the march before it got 50 metres past the barriers. The protestors were forced back into the square and the kettling operation began in earnest. The police had shown their strength and the demonstrators their powerlessness. The riot squad snatch squads into the square, although valiantly resisted, were largely effective and the arrests were made. While I am sure there was a contingency, the stewarding became even more ineffectual after the arrests of the UAF/SWP leaders – and communication became even poorer. We are in the 21st century, but there was an inadequate PA, few megaphones and no use of wireless to communicate.

    I joined those who were arms linked seeking to prevent police access to the protest, but could not hear the announcements or speeches. Communication was non-existent. A couple of hours later, about 1.30pm I think after the EDL had assembled, another ill-advised attempt was made by a small group of protestors to break through police lines, near to where the portaloos were. This was also swiftly beaten back by the police and the crowd pushed back further. There was some good resistance by the demonstrators to the vicious police action, but dogs effectively brought the situation under control and those people caught the other side of the line were permitted to join the rest of the protestors (I particularly noticed the Communist League bookstall decamping). During this uneasy truce, a young protestor came up to the group I was linked with and told us that he had just instructions “from the CC” on tactics. “WTF!” I said – I didn’t come here to be told what to do by the SWP CC!! And this illustrates the political problem. The confusion between UAF and SWP as they morph from one to the other. Mark Krantz makes the point on Lenin’s Blog – that he was “proud to be a member of the party”, rather than proud to be an anti-fascist demonstrator. Now despite the claims earlier that I’m part of the SWP Barber Shop Quartet, clearly I’m not. I fully recognise that the SWP provided a large part of the organisation and demonstration – and a valiant and heroic effort was made by SWP members that day. But formally it was a Bolton Against Racism/UAF demo, not an SWP one, and that means different tactics and much better organisation to communicate with demonstrators and implement agreed tactics. The SWP are genuinely politically confused about what their role in this is – they stoke up the crowd and membership with rhetoric about “stopping the fascists” but in practice this is undeliverable in such a heavily orchestrated and policed event. The only way of stopping the fascists is to mobilise unstoppable numbers – 10,000 at least were needed and they were potentially mobilisable particularly from the asian community in Bolton and other nearby towns like Blackburn and Rochdale.

    Which brings me onto the second competing truth – the relationship with the reformist leaders of the labour movement and class through UAF. There’s no doubt that UAF has played a major role in bringing a wing of the Labour movement bureaucracy into formal support for mobilising against the fascists; that’s to the credit of the SWP. However, on the ground these leaders pay only lip service and don’t mobilise. The Labour leaders of Bolton Council attempted to destroy the UAF demo, particularly working through the council of mosques to demobilise muslim anger. None of the UAF’s alliances with the left MPs and bureaucrats seem geared to preventing this.

    The SWP are fond of drawing comparisons with Lewisham back in 1977 and that was certainly an historic turning point, like Cable Street, in showing that the fascists could be stopped by mass mobilisation. But it should be remembered that the Lewisham demo was called not by the far left, but by the CP and reformist and church organisations. However the CP’s and bishops’ intention was to march away from the fascists for a ‘peaceful rally’. Good organisation by the left on the ground meant that the breakaway from that march took the vast majority of marchers with it to prevent the fascists spreading their filth. I was a young person on the IMG contingent that day (I wasn’t in the IMG) and it was very well organised – the IMG more than others had learnt the lesson of Red Lion Square in 1974 (when Warwick student Kevin Gateley had been killed in an attack led by the IMG on a nazi meeting – it was pleasing to see a banner on saturday in his memory by the way). The IMG organised its members and supporters into clear groups, with clear stewarding, linked arms 10 x 20 phalanxes with gaps for communication (experience taken from the european protests of the French and Spanish Fourth International groups). Compared to the shambolic amble that most demos are today this was the height of good organisation – and it worked. The reformists call to mobilise got people there – the superior line and organisation of the far left mobilised those attending and prevented the fascists marching. This is the line of the United Front. By failing to distinguish between their role in UAF and their role as a revolutionary party, the SWP ultimately fail (as they did in Respect too of course). They must learn that the key tactic was to use the reformists in UAF to go over the heads of the Bolton Labour council and use the weight of the labour movement to mobilise particularly in the most oppressed, which in this instance means the asian working class. Once mobilised they need to get their tactics and organisation right on the ground; so that people are not needlessly arrested or attacked by cops, and weight of numbers prevent the fascists organised, not isolated skirmishes.

    The ra-ra triumphalism of Lenin’s blog is certainly not justified. It was the police that bundled off the EDL not the UAF. But that’s not to say that mass mobilisation is not possible or cannot succeed, and as I said heads were eventually definitely held high on Saturday in Bolton. However just mobilising the white left every few weeks for a shouting match with the EDL and a set-to with the cops is not the right way forward either. It is to be hoped that the right lessons will be made of the frustrating and ambiguous outcome of Bolton and a reevaluation of tactics made, though I see scant evidence yet but I live in hope of the days and weeks to come.

  166. fooking hell. You guys just make it all too difficult on yourselves. Why not just turn up, make your protest and go home without trying to stop someone else’s right to protest? Its not difficult. Its Not hard. Or are you just pissed off because the EDL will have 10K out on a demo before the end of the year?

  167. ‘Funny that the SWP have been amongst the most vociferous on the left calling for state proscriptions and intervention against the far right, but as always these powers are more likely to be deployed against the left.’

    This is false – the SWP opposes calls to ban the EDL or their protests, including such appeals made from within UAF.

  168. In response to those who complain that the UAF leadership and stewards didn’t tell them what to do or ordered them around too much the key to coping on demos is through experience. Many on the demo were too young to have been on anti-nazi demos in the 70’s and early 90’s. But they are developing experience and learning new tactics as this campaign grows. It took me awhile to learn how to campaign against the nazis in the 90’s. I was too young to get involved in the 70’s so I learnt from more experienced activists. But that didn’t mean they were always there to sort everything out. I had to use my initiative and try things out.

    The point I’m making is that even though there are organisers and stewards on demos each demonstrator has a responsibility to help out and not just rely on everyone else to tell them what to do. Sometimes a bit of initiative is helpful, especially when the situation becomes chaotic. As anti-nazis we should all learn to take the lead when necessary because there may be some occasions when others will be relying on us to make decisions.

  169. I thought the tactics on the day were brilliant, and matched the scale of the attack on us.

    The police had a physical and a political strategy.

    1. decapitate the UAF leadership leaving it without structure and confused
    2. use police brutality to provoke a riot response that would ‘excuse’ serious police violence against us
    3. contruct a media story that the UAF were violent – but the EDL were peaceful

    It failed.

    1. Two of the UAF leaders were taken out. The national secretary, and the Manchester secretary – thats two of the five that the police had met last friday over the organisation of teh UAF protets. Police made no agreements nor arrangements for coach drop off, ambulances and first aid, ‘safe zone’ or PA and stage. Yet this was a legal UAF protest in Victoria Square.

    But other UAF leaders stepped in to keep the UAF rally going all day on the mike. Veteran ANL organiser Paul Holbrorow – secretary of the old ANL – stepped up to make two brilliant speeches, unifying the UAF rally, giving explanation and direction.

    2. A mixture and inovation of resistance tactics in the tradition Martin Luther King at the time of the civil rights movement, and CND direct actions was adopted. Mass, nonviolent resistance was applied for 4 hours in the face of repeated and sustained attacks. Link arms, form lines, advance and retreat together. No attacks on the police with fists or sticks, never throw stuff, dont spit at them – such a response would lead to serious charges and prison. (we know about the Gaza protesters, video evidence, jailings)

    The police changed shifts. Their tactical aid squad conducted repeated snatches aresting our key (elected) leaders. Yet we held our ground all day. We had previously been portrayed as a load of soft, student, gay, hippies who could be battered and would run. We did not look like that by 2 Oclock. We were a working class resistance of old and young who had stood up to the police.

    The score sheet shows nearly all of those arrested have been released without charge. There were just two police injuries. One had a dog bite to his bollocks from a police dog (called Red), the other a ‘sprained finger’. The videos from the media cameras on the roof shows the police attacked UAF – in the area marked ‘UAF Area’. There is mounting evidence proving we were attacked by the police. Everyone there knows this was true.

    The police were violent. Dogs were used to protect their police line and seperate us from them. But the police did ‘have reason’ to order charges with battons. One or two stuck with battons but there was no ordered batton charge. Nor did they drive horses at us.

  170. Mark Krantz on said:

    Our turning point was the arrival of the about 150 Muslims from Bolton at about 3pm (they had been kettled in all day). Once they joined us with a big cheer we all faced the EDL – chanting together. Enraged they threw bottles and stuff, police went into their side – they lashed out fighting, so police sent in truncheons and then horses. The EDL turned back to the train station.

    That was the point we won the day. Muslim, and Black and white it was our square – Whose Square? Our Square? We were united on the streets fighting back. Through the racist police, and prepared to silence the Nazi EDL. ‘If it was not for the police you’d be dead’ was sung. We were all smiling after a very long day.

    For the EDL this was not the triump of their ‘Zeig Hail’ march down Manchester’s Market street, nor was it their Stoke – The Sequel. They could not watch the news reports in the pub showing poice injuries and battered anti fascists. And it was the UAF that marched round Bolton Town Centre. They did not come to Bolton to see this.

    3 The media story so far is the one police had organised before hand and released widely.

    Journalists there on the day, and news producers looking at the facts are asking questions. A ‘people investigation’ and a real reporting of what happened in Bolton has already begun. The Police story can be knocked apart. Ours is just being told.

    A further menacing question is developing. People are pointing out that it is illegal to be in the BNP. It is not illegal to be in the EDL.

    Why did the police attack the UAF in the very zone they had designated as the ‘UAF protets Zone’. (remember there was a digital display board by the toilets.). The bravado ‘boast’ that there are EDL members in the police could be true? There is widespread suspicion over this question. Police institutional racism was uncovered and ackowledged as widespread in the police by McPherson Report after Stephen Lawrence was murdered by ‘BNP’ sympathisers.

    Bolton was a victory for the anti facsists. We are stronger now.

  171. johng on said:

    yeah you would have thought that at a certain point journalists would notice that a chief constable was talking about demonstraters behaving with ‘extreme violence’ towards his officers…but that of the two reported injuries one involved a police dog so out of control that it bit one of the officers and the other involved an injured finger.

  172. neprimerimye on said:

    Thats a terrible slur on the dogs John. I witnessed what happened and the poor creature was simply confused and frightened.

    And boy did I laugh!

  173. neprimerimye on said:

    More seriously we should not be over pleased at the result. It was a victory on points and we suffered real casualties through the arrests. But the tqctics used on the day were the best in the circumstances and that has to be hammered home to the defeatists who wish to leave the streets to the fash.

    With regard to the withdrawel of the EDL after the entry into the square of the 200-300 Asian youth and other contingents late in the day I would suggest that this was allowed by the police in order to deny us the opportunity to physically confront the EDL. Comrades should realise that although we immediatly demanded the right to march that we could not exercise that right for some minutes giving the bulk of the EDL the time they needed to scurry away. Despite which we still chased them through the streets.

    A victory comrades but only on points. The key to Dudley is numbers!

    NO PASARAN!

  174. The police can spin the story, but it can also spin out of their control. Remember this happened with the G20 protests. For the first few days the police spun story of violent anti-capitalist demonstrators dominated the media. They even spun the death of Ian Tomlinson against the protesters. But eventually the alternative video footage from peoples phones and cameras began circulating around youtube, facebook. movement sites and eventually became pushed into the mainstream via the Guardian. By the end of the week the story had spun out of police control, and was now about their murderous violence and cover ups. Briefly the agenda was about how can we deal with Britains out of control police.

    The dreadful and disturbing video footage of a riot police officer pushing Bertie Lois to the ground is starting to circulate. The police violence towards this 89 year old war veteran, antifascist protestor and Bolton resident will shock the nation and show the real nature of saturdays events. Circulate it everyone!

    And Mark – has it been sent to the Guardian and other media that might run with it?

    And Andy – get the story on your front page now!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9Abqu-dVWc&feature=player_embedded

    The assault occurs about 26 seconds into the video. Two coppers are dragging a UAF protestor, and the riot cop on the right shoves Bertie to the ground.

    Bertie had given a widely reported quote to the media before the demo. This is from the Telegraph:

    “Second World War veteran Bertie Lois, 89, who lives in Farnworth, Bolton, protested with the UAF. He said: “I fought the Second World War against these Nazis. What did I fight for if we let them? The EDL are the enemy. I would say to them ‘you are the guys we fought for, what are you doing?'”I am also here because I am against the war in Afghanistan.”

    But none of the media have yet picked up on the story of the police violence towards Bertie. This is outrageous, seeing as the police are still briefing the media with their story about ‘UAF violence’.

    Bertie stands in Bolton on most saturdays protesting against the Afghan war. Here is a picture of Bertie Lois on the UAF protest before the police assault on him.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/mar/21/race-protest?picture=360681950

  175. Anonymous on said:

    “Bertie Lewis served in World War Two in the war against Hitler. Many of his comrades serving with him in Bomber Command lost their lives.”

    This week he’s a war hero here. Next week he’ll be an imperialist war criminal again.

  176. I agree with neprimerimye, I would not overstate the outcome of Bolton. I won’t be telling people that it was an overwhelming victory, but we could not just stay at home and let the EDL loose in the square unopposed. We hindered them and with the help of the local population, push them out the square.

    My best moment of the day was finally getting into the square just as the local Muslims were coming out. We shook hands, we embraced, we cheered. We thanked each other for coming out to Bolton centre. This is why we demonstrated against the EDL rather just leave it to the police that some naysayers suggest. We showed solidarity with the locals, and them with us, that united we will not let these thugs, racists and fascists march on our streets unopposed.

    It is very easy for people on here to say UAF should have broken out here, should have done that here, but when you’re faced with hundreds if riot cops, dogs and horses, well it slightly curtails your plans however ambitious you are.

    RE: organisational matters after Smith and Bennet were arrested. To say we were flustered, directionless, etc is totally alien to the experiences of where we were. There was a chain of command and reasonable information relayed to our tactics for the current time.

    Incidentally, I don’t subscribe to the EDL as just thugs, nor do I equate them as all fascists. However it is clear the BNP are using the EDL as an embryonic street army, said as much by ex-EDL leaders and undercover reports. Just as we got to Bolton we overtook a minibus with a huge Union flag in the back; all 15 or so occupants were blackshirted up.

    We must confront the

  177. commenter 199 – not so fast, you ignorant fool. Bertie protests against imperialist war every weekend in Bolton. He is well known for it. Check out the guardian photo I linked to – can you read English? Berties placard says “BRING THE TROOPS HOME, END THE OCCUPATION. OR ELSE!”

    Bertie was part of a delegation of the campaigning group military families against war who took petitions to Gordon Brown last year calling for Troops Out of Afghanistan.

    You can see that Bertie is wearing a CND badge. After taking part in fighting Hitler, Bertie has spent years in the peace movement – like many left wing WW2 veterans.

    The only war the socialist left have supported was the war to defend Britain and Europe from Hitlers Fascism. It was the right wing who were Hitlers appeasers. All other wars have been about oppressing poorer countries usually in the third world, and were rubbish.

    How come right wing trolls are so stupid?

  178. Last post – 199 – actually Bertie protests in Bolton Town Centre every weekend against imperialist war! Can you read the placard in the Guardian photo? What does it say? Its says:
    “BRING THE TROOPS HOME, END THE OCCUPATION. OR ELSE!”
    Doh! Stupid right wing troll! ☺

  179. Anonymous on said:

    “All other wars have been about oppressing poorer countries usually in the third world, and were rubbish.”

    A typically subtle and penetrating political estimation of the conflicts of the last 65 years by one of the useful idiots of this place. What else have you got: “I hate David Cameron because he smells”? “No mum, I won’t tidy my room, you fascist!”?

    “BRING THE TROOPS HOME, END THE OCCUPATION. OR ELSE!”

    Or else what? Is Mr Lewis making some kind of veiled threat of violence? It’s rather worrying, in that he already has form in killing civilians with bombs.

  180. history tells us things on said:

    ‘Yesterday confirmed the UAF have no serious strategy for defeating racism and fascism and winning the support of working class people. The tactics that the stewards were advocating in order to “smash” the EDL would have been too incompetent to be considered by the scriptwriters of Dads Army. We won’t defeat the EDL by shouting “Scum”. We will only win by going into our estates and communities with a coherent alternative to the divisive message peddaled by the far right.

    absolutely,it speaks volumes about the calibre of the much of the left on here that such common sense is shouted down as being from a ‘troll’, grow up…

  181. 205 – “All other wars have been about oppressing poorer countries usually in the third world, and were rubbish.”

    I’d call that succinct and to the point.

  182. bobtail on said:

    “We will only win by going into our estates and communities with a coherent alternative to the divisive message peddaled by the far right.”

    OK but what do we do when the EDL are demonstrating? Stay at home?

  183. So the EDL are concerned about education cuts, well why dont they camapign against education cuts? Why blame Muslims. Scapegoating is the typical answer of those who wish to divide the working class. Racism divides and fascism is about smashing the independance of the trade union movement. The EDL use the attacks on Islam to serve the needs of those who put profit first. How many of their leaders are in the BNP or NF.

    The EDL is not about democracy and rights, it is about serving the needs of those who would deny us our rights.

    If the EDL were to win, which they won’t, then we will all be the losers.

    If you are really concerned about the needs of the children and their future then you would not be pursuing this racist agenda.

  184. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    I was not at Bolton, so have no idea what went down (the descriptions contradict each other so I am none the wiser).
    There has been some discussion of the stewarding. Since I have done some of that, a few comments are in order.
    Stewards do not have sophisticated communications equipment, and so if it kicks off, they are at a disadvantage. Moreover, some people at demos refuse to do what a steward tells them. Demos attract all kinds, including some up for a ruck and perhaps also the odd plainclothes cop as well, a la “Officer A” – also up for a ruck for reasons more complex than adrenalin. The cops know what they are doing, but the demonstrators themselves are far less coherent.

  185. neprimerimye on said:

    Delete ‘brinkman stats’ Andy. No racist trolls.

    I note in passing that this scum calism that he opposes Islamic schools but has no objection to similar schools run by the Catholic or Anglican communions. In other words he objects to schools run by a group that is defined as being of another race. Typically for these idiots Islam being seen as a race not a religion.

    Delete the racist trolls.

  186. Brinkman Stats, some hilarious attempts at identity politics there. Shame it’s such a visible attempt to hide the core EDL politics. Bit like EDL waving an Israeli flag at a demo. Well, that’s won the Jewish support then, definitely no Nazis in your ranks…

    MRD

  187. To the EDL:

    The EDL leaders say they are not against all Muslims, only Islamic extremists. But they are either naive about the forces they are attempting to unleash, or they are telling a grand lie. We have seen that the EDL has a problem with its supporters, who join chants against ‘P*kies’ and hold banners saying they want ‘no more mosques’ (and these are the nice moderate ones not doing stiff arm salutes). You demand an end freedom of religious expression in Britain if you allow your marchers to demand ‘no more mosques’.

    If you really wanted to do something against the poison of Islamist extremism, you would not be marching around with a bunch of drunk football hooligans shouting racist slogans and winding things up! You would be attempting to make links and unite with the majority of moderate British Muslims to isolate the Islamicist extremists. We on the left have made these links with moderate Muslim majority, by working with our local Muslim communities to build campaigns against war, racism and poverty. The Bolton anti-fascist rally shows an excellent mix of all ages, genders, sexualities, races and religions. Bolton Muslims stood linking arms with white youth, including socialists, feminists and others in a way that would make Islamicist scum like Anjem Choudary or Osama Bin Laden turn in the graves that they deserve to be in!

    I’m a gay man, a huge fan of alcohol, dance and music, a socialist and a fighter for freedom. I would perish under an Islamacist dictatorship, and would fight one if it were ever a serious threat. But the more immediate threat comes from the ‘British Taliban’ – which is the cluster of right wing nutjobs around the EDL and their ugly twin sister, the BNP. How do you thing these drunk football hooligans singing ‘god save the queen’ would react if I turned up near the EDL with a gay rights banner? I think most of them would be just as happy to go ‘queer bashing’ as ‘p*ki bashing’. They are just hooligans looking for a fight, in the main.

    Don’t try to pull the wool over our eyes. The EDL as a movement in practice tries to rally us, the English people, against a small ethnic minority, pretending that this minority pose the greatest threat to our freedoms. This has two dangers:

    1) The EDL will lead to further violence and persecution of the Muslim ethnic minority. Check out the meaning of ‘pogrom’, and see how comfortable you would feel if one day an EDL protest led to one.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogrom
    You in effect are collaborators with the capitalist tabloid press in making innocent Muslims the scapegoats for the capitalist economic crisis and the poverty and unemployment this will bring.

    2) The EDL will divide the working class along racial and religious lines, diverting the attention from the real fight we need to wage. The real enemy of the English working class are the rich capitalist bastards who own and exploit our land, and are about to slash services, jobs, pensions and working conditions – all so that they can get even richer.

    It is pity we have to fight you in the EDL. We would much rather unite with you, and with other working class people, including the Muslim working classes, in a common struggle against capitalism to defend our jobs, lives, environment and children’s future. It is a pity you have become the tools of big business and the new world order, your vain crusade fitting the agenda of our rulers wars of conquest and plunder in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But we will not go away either, until the threat of an anti-Muslim pogrom posed by the reckless EDL is passed, and we can restore harmony to this land.

  188. Dont delete the troll. He’s fucking hilarious.
    You’ve got a black friend so you can’t be racist either, I bet.
    We’ve got you all wrong, back to the bat cave comrades, they’ve outsmarted us.

    MRD

  189. Btw, I shop in Asda from time to time, as well as other private businesses.
    I must be the worst anti-capitalist ever.

    MRD

  190. as I’ve said elsewhere:

    Islamophobia can sometimes manage to sidestep accusations of racism on the grounds that it is a hatred of a religious minority rather than a racial minority (although most members of the one minority category belong to the other).

    So Brinkman – ypu are happy with persecuting a religious minority, just because they are not a ‘race’.

    Oh, and what about those EDL marchers that have smashed up Asian shops – some of them not even Muslim shops!?

  191. #214

    “Delete ‘brinkman stats’ Andy. No racist trolls.”

    I suggest that ‘brinkman stats” is explaining his point of view quite reasoanably, and that if you want to understand where some people who support tyhe EDL are coming from then you could try arguing with him.

    Sadly he seesm to be reflecting quite mainstream Islamophobia, and even though I strongly disgree with him, he doesn’t actualy sound like either a racist or a fascist to me.

    (Actually, there are one or two people on the left who argue very similarly concerning Islam)

  192. Armchair on said:

    Brinkman Stats – your problem is that, whether you are genuine or not in what you feel or believe, by your friends you shall be known, as Barry Kade pointed out quite eloquently.

    Personally I don’t think the EDL is composed entirely of stupid people. In fact there are clearly some frighteningly clever people manipulating the whole operation. But then the history of the 3rd Reich demonstrates a fair few people with post grad qualifications in leading opositions.

  193. David Ellis on said:

    Solidarity with all those at this meeting who had to endure this vile provocation. A wake up call indeed.

  194. #222

    “Of course we recognise the enemy as being the powers that control the capital, as much as we can see through the EUSSR. ”

    Ok, “brinkman stats” is soundijng a bit more like a fascist now!

  195. Brinkman Stats,
    if I was to demonstrate against Le Pens crew, which I would do if I was located in France, then no I wouldn’t be indicating a hatred for all French people, just the fascists.
    FM doesn’t represent French people, much like EDL doesn’t represent English people and the BNP doesn’t represent British people.

    But you will have trouble comprehending that, not because you’re stupid, but because you’re fascist scum. Yeah?

    MRD

  196. Wake up Brinkman! You have an entirely rose tinted and romantic view of your movement. I have seen videos from someone going around last saturdays EDL crowd in Bolton asking why they were on an EDL protest. One came out with a reasonable ‘I’ve no problem with most Muslims, its just the extremists’ line. All the others spoke about disliking what they called ‘the P*kies’. Get real, not romantic!

  197. Graham_S on said:

    A question for ‘Brinkman Stats’ if I may, where were the Islamic Fundamentalists you were presumably campaigning against on Saturday, was there something specific about the rise in Bolton of ‘Militant Islam’ that caused your attention to be focussed on that town this weekend?

    Do you seriously think for one second that ordinary Muslims see your rallies as anything other than an attack on them, and why do you think the police in Bolton warned Muslim school children to stay away from the town centre (nothing to do with the UAF incidentally)?

  198. Brinkman. I don’t care if you united a rainbow alliance of Hindus, Gays, Sikhs, Hells Angels and Rod hull and Emu fans against Britains Muslim minority. Its still scapegoating one innocent minority group.

    Instead we need to unite people of all races and religions against the attacks coming from capitalism, the state and big business. This includes uniting against the British capitalists, the rotten capitalist agenda of the EU, the domination of Britain by the military agendas of the USA, and the global agenda of the World Bank and the WTO.

    Lets say this again – the EDL wont succeed in isolating and stopping the Islamist nutjobs, but it might succeed in demonising and stigmatising Britain’s Muslims.

    Brinkman ask for evidence of EDL hooligan attacks on Asians?

    Heres the reportage from the first Luton march, the real origins of your movement. And there were no anti-fascists there to share the blame:

    “Nine people were arrested yesterday after trouble flared during a protest march against supposed Muslim extremists. The march in Luton was said to be a protest against an earlier demonstration during the Royal Anglian Regiment’s homecoming parade when soldiers were heckled on their return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Yesterday there were about 500 protesters, some carrying banners with slogans such as “No Sharia Law in the UK” and “Respect our Troops”. Several cars were damaged after a small group split off from the march. An Asian-owned business had its windows smashed”.
    from the Times.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6356118.ece

    Was this Asian owned business Muslim? Or Sikh, or Hindu? Who knows. I doubt if your ‘English’ marchers knew either. And even if it was a Muslim owned business, was it one owned by an Islamicist extremist?

    Of course ‘marches against Islamic extremists’ by drunk young football hooligans will get out of hand and go on a rampage against ‘Muslim looking’ people. If you don’t understand this, you are a naive fool.

    All your nice, sophisticated, educated and liberal sounding arguments on here count as nothing, they are just a pleasant cover for the window smashing, mosque burning thugs who rally under your banner. in fact you are worse than the less articulate youngsters who openly admit they just hate the ‘P*kies’. They wouldn’t be able to move an inch forward without the propaganda work of your slippery silken tongue.

    Oh, and here is a picture of just a small amount of the damage your wonderful liberal EDL did in Stoke, as it rampaged through a mixed Asian / white area:

    http://www.photoshelter.com/gallery-img-show?P_ID=&_bqG=16&_bqH=eJzzyEl2So3yrMyo8ItyNSpJNsgwMfUPMA7ycHK1MrSwMjK1snKP93SxdTcAAs_MgpySKueyCG9ftQCQqJq7Z7y7o4.Pa1AkNkUAJYUcEg–&GI_IMAGE_ID=I00006nuEdH290gw

  199. I’m not debating him, I’m wiping the floor with him.

    Take any section of the EDL rabble. Some will be hardened racist right wingers. Others would be more mixed-up and confused, alienated working class kids. I reckon a half-competent old fashioned socialist street agitator would have won the argument with half of these lads and lasses in 5 minutes and turned them around, given the opportunity. Many will be decent kids at heart. That is unless one of the minority of really hardened fascists thugs amongst them can preempt your argument with a blow to your head before you get anywhere.

  200. OK – one final comment for the troll and then I must go.

    1) You can find a nasty quote from the Quoran that support invasion, war and conquest.

    2) You can find nice things in the Bible that preach peace, like Christs sermon on the mount. (Of course you can find nasty things in the bible as well, especially in the old testament).

    3)The european eighteenth century enlightenment also said lots of nice things about reason, liberty and equality.

    4)Our culture proclaims the nice, peaceful values based on both Christ’s teaching and the secular liberalism of the enlightenment.

    AND YET –

    5) It is our countries that have recently invaded Iraq and Afghanistan – not the other way round. Our nice peaceful Christian / enlightenment secularist culture has invaded and oppressed the (allegedly) violent and warlike Islamic culture.

    6) How come? Perhaps its because to understand the world, you need to know more about it than some quotes from some centuries old books, to see how people will behave. You have to consider politics and economics, questions of oil, land and power. I don’t know alot about the Quoran. But I do know that the US and the UK have invaded and upset countries in the middle east and central asia, not the other way around. I believe the evidence from my own eyes, not some ancient book. The EDL’s leading ‘thinkers’ are just the mirror image of some silly old imam.

  201. Ughh! Just read this Brinkmans last post again, he makes an over the top denunciation of his EDL supporters who shout racist slogans about ‘P*kies’ … BUT THEN HE GOES ON TO EXCUSE IT AND BLAME THE VICTIMS … “but one has to ask why does this feeling exist ?” Ughh! Well, that didn’t take long to prove. Just another filthy racist, beneath the surface, after all. Bye.

  202. anticapitalista on said:

    #238 You are correct that there will be people influenced by the EDL who can/need to be won over to our side.
    That is the whole point of anti-fascist tactics of a) exposing them for what they really are b) confronting them on the streets and c) offering an anti-capitalist alternative

  203. Graham_S on said:

    Brinkman may or maynot be a racist but his random quote from the Quran shows him to a hypocrite unless hes going marching next week against the local Christian church as in terms of that quote theres far worse in the bleeding bible

  204. Yeah Barry, just ignore the fash
    We know he’s lying, he knows he’s lying. Nothing to be said.

    MRD

  205. Fleabite on said:

    I dont know why this vital thread has been downgraded ie taken off the main posts menu(is it a menu?) because it is attracting more discussion than any other and a great deal of comment and discussion.
    about how most effectively oppose the EDL and BNP and build a united anti racist anti fascist movement among other things.

    Andy or whoever else is running the ward tonight,is there any chance you could please put this thread back up with the main current buns as there is a necessary and healthy discussion and debate going on here and people arent necessarily going to see it it with it downgraded and hidden away.

    Thanks

  206. Just me on said:

    I’m a little bit late in but want to make a few quick points about the demo.
    First though I’m hearing a lot of criticism of the tactics on the day many but very little in the way of alternative suggestions.

    For me while things where far from perfect I think trying to get a couple of thousand more or less randomly assembled people to follow any kind of plan is very hard. Also I’d like to see the reaction if members of the SWP went around trying to give orders to everyone something them seem to be being criticized for not doing.

    Now having said that there are a couple of real issues I have. The first is that I don’t understand why the PA was so far away form the EDL half of the square. Surly having it further into the square would have made it harder for the police snatch squads and alleviated the problem of us splitting our attention between the EDL and the police. I guess there may have been a technical reason for the location chosen but tacitly it seems a bad choice to me.

    I think the attempted break thorough in the morning was a mistake we clearly didn’t have the numbers to succeed in holding the EDL half of the square and think it just further provoked an already aggressive police response and made it easer for them to paint us as the violent ones. I’m not against the tactic in principle but just think that you need a lot more people for it to succeed and if it fails does more harm than good.

    I’m going to go against the consensus that the arrival of the young asian guys about 3pm led the police to move the EDL off. About 2:45 the police line at our back suddenly retreated and thinned quite a bit and all the dogs got shifted. I think this was when they started to get ready to moved the EDL.

    As for my overall assessment of the day I would say it was a 1 all draw, maybe with UAF winning the penalty shoot out 5-4.

  207. #246, it’s not under editorial control, it’s the relentless movement of time.
    Unless Andy does a new post maybe summarising different positions the best comrades can do is keep posting comments on this thread so that they appear on the recent comments sidebar, which is where I suspect many regular users of SU start their reading anyway.
    I’ve long argued that SU should update the theme to have featured posts but the proprietor sticks doggedly to the original design.
    But anyway, yes, a really important thread.
    I’ve not seen this posted yet, Socialist Party comrades appear to be increasingly reluctant to engage on blogs etc.
    I wonder if the recent very public split in the IMT on the interwebs has spooked them.
    Anyways, Socialist Party on events in Manchester;
    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/latest/9038/22-03-2010/far-right-edl-outnumbered-in-bolton-police-try-to-even-the-odds

  208. neprimerimye on said:

    I would suggest that the EDL were removed after the large contingent of local Asian youth and others were allowed into the square. And thats the point. They were allowed into the square in order that the police had the opportunity to provide the EDL with one final service by removing them when we were finally able to realise the totality of our strength.

    It was correct to then demand the right to march and to chase EDL around the streets, if not fun for my aged back, but the police had by then guaranteed the safety of the EDL.

    More than score draw a victory but on points.

    On to Dudley.

    NO PASARAN!

  209. Just me on said:

    Brinkman Stats You think they guy makes a good point at 6:30 into the video? The same guy who thinks Northern Ireland want’s independence from Southern Ireland?

    Your right it is clearly unfair to insinuate that EDL members have below average brain capacity as their grasp of politics and history is obviously second to none.

  210. # 252, “you lot are being manipulated by communists and radical islam”.
    Yes we are but it is the Lizards that have overall command.
    Oh sorry, my mistake;
    “it,s the elephant in the room.”
    You’re right, it’s the elephants.

  211. johng on said:

    Small point on the SP leaflet. I disagree with the politics of the criticisms of the SWP stewarding and the politics of the event, but for readers of this blog its worth noting that the leaflet begins by pointing to the appalling behaviour of the police on the day and normal gestures of solidarity to the anti-fascists. Its the normal proceedure on the left and a basic orientation which some could learn from. Despite these differences.

  212. I think the SP leaflet and report is very good in identifying the disgraceful behaviour of the police and the need for bigger demonstrations. I don’t agree with their assessment of the SWP on the demo especially because SWP comrades, among other anti-nazis, put themselves on the line in an attempt to block the police which was ultimately successful.

    If the SP want to develop their own group then that’s up to them but I would argue that we all need to work together as we did at Welling. The more ways we can draw people into
    our movement the better.

    A couple of ways we can broaden the campaign:

    1. Encouraging high profile soccer players to condemn the EDL.
    2. Involving musicians, artists, poets, comedians etc. in the campaign.

    I’ve not mentioned the obvious like involving workers, students and local communities because that’s already happening quiet successfully.

  213. lorne’s stream of consciousness has fizzled out. It doesn’t take long to tax small brains.

  214. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #246 Johng “the criticisms of the SWP stewarding”

    Yes it was the SWP stewarding. That’s part of the political problem John. It was not an SWP demo and the aim is supposed to be to try to build a broad movement, is it not?

    I’ve had reports that the SWP were telling people on coaches not to follow local stewards, despite the original plan to have joint stewarding – anyone on a coach who can confirm that? It is so terrible I don’t want to think about it – I hope it isn’t true.

  215. anticapitalista on said:

    #247 and what about

    #3 leafleting at football stadiums/stadia (that’s for lorne)

    especially for Dudley in April.
    Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Wolves, WBA, Coventry amongst others. Remember that was one way the NF was defeated in the 70’s.

  216. #251

    But in the 1970s the NF were pitching for an explicit presence on the terraces.

    This is clearly not the case with the EDL, and indeed the hooligan firms are more than semi-detached from the actual fans and teams they claim a tenuous connection with.

    The EDL have some success in pulling hooligans behind them, but have little or no connection with football

    The political analogy wth the EDL and the 1970s NF just shows how utterly you have failed to understand the EDL phenomenon.

    i) there is a fascist compenent in the EDL leadership, but the politics of the EDL are not (yet) fascist
    ii) the consensus of the EDL reflects mainstream Islamophobia, and deflected patriotism over the war in Iraq. This also includes an element of class greivance over working class lives wasted in the killing fields of Helmand
    iii) There is a great deal of macho bravado in the EDL.

    This last point is very important.

    Insofar as physical force used against the NF was to deny them the opportunity to march, this was to reveal their true fascist face by forcing the skinheads to the front, and getting the retired majors from the Indian army to stay at home. Stripping away the respectibile veneer of the NF. Also, the left were able to tap into still strong anti-fascist tradition in the working class in the 1970s.

    Today things are different. The squadre of the EDL are not deterred by the prospect of a fight, but actually motivated by it. There are no respectable sympathisers to deter.

    It seems that you are so focussed on your narrow British frame of reference that you are unwiling to look at the historicall example of squadrismo in the 1920s in Italy – street fighting actually built the far-right through tempering bonds of cameraderie and group loyalty among disillussioned young men with little ideology.

    The other big difference is that within their own famillies and communities, the Islamophobic common sense of the EDL makes a lot of sense, and they will be receiving a lot of validation for that aspect.

    Face reality here. Opposing facsism in the 1970s the left was able to swim within the mainstream, opposing Islamophobia in 2010, we are swimming against the stream. Whereas no-one on the left or liberal maintream defended racism in the 1970s, hostility to Islam is common even on the left

    However in opposing hooliganism we are with the vast majority. therefore we need to couch our opposition to the EDL in terms of opposing that hooliganism. i.e don’t present the image that we are just the same, with juvenile language of “smashing” and “driving off the streets”, and silly football styl e chants back at them.

    Don’t make the juvenile mistake of calling the EDL “Nazis” and “Fascists”, when they are not. (This runs the rsk of accelerating their identification with those labels)

    Our tasks are as follows:

    i) challenge Islamophobia
    ii) celebrate multi-culturalism
    iii) pressurise the political mainstream and the police to recognise what a potential public order disaster the EDL are, and demand that Muslim communities are defended
    iv) press for a state ban of the EDL and its events, because it is essentially a hooligan and not a political movement.

    And there is a serious problem in all this UAF bravado, that you have not broken out of the ranks of the revolutionarty left, and the more committed you become to a physical force strategey, them more you will lose the links with the mainstream labour movement and trade unions.

    the more you stress the far-right political aspect of the EDL, as opposed to its inchoate hooliganism, the more difficult it is fr the state to act against the EDL within ther own ideological constraints of bourgeois liberalism. Indeed if you categorise the EDL as a political movement, and then seek to deny them space, then you are putting yourself in the way of confrontation with the police; deflecting attention away from the public order problem posed by the EDL.

    UAF are travelling in the direction of squadism, valuing the tactsic of physical confrontayion more than the essential tasks of building the political coalitions necessary to undermine the EDL

    Indeed, the tactics currenty being adopted by the UAF provide the ideal conditions to help the EDL grow and consolidate.

    But you are so buoyed up by the buzz you are getting from these exciting confrontations, and the sense that you are somehow doing something importnat. athat you are not thinking at all about the political context.

  217. doom n gloom on said:

    “Why should I, as an atheist, be expected to show respect for Christian, Islamic or Jewish cultures whose views and arguments I often find reactionary and often despicable? Why should public arrangements be adapted to fit in with the backward, misogynistic, homophobic claims that religions make? What is wrong with me wishing such cultures to ‘wither away’?”
    A quote from the essay, where is the problem with that statement, or are we to base our lives on a joiner from Nazerith or some guy from Saudi Arabia, the left has often highlighted the reactionary nature of religion now it seems we must accept it, dont think so. A year ago this blog would have been full of condemnation of the murder and beating of young Muslim and Hindi women forced into marriage or attacked for going out with a man from amother religion, “race” or caste, now it seems we are to surrender to a patriarchal regime opposed to socialism and equality as this is Islamophobia. A bit like here in Scotland where it is safe to condemn the Huns but not the Tims, I rip the piss out of the both of them. Religion is fare game, you can respect an individual of faith without questioning their beliefs.

  218. doom n gloom on said:

    correction
    Religion is fare game, you can respect an individual of faith but still question their beliefs.

  219. johng on said:

    I think your mistaken in your analyses Andy (where your not we actually agree although you refuse to recognise this: for example the point about the essentially defensive position we are in). One illustration of this is your belief that the politics of the EDL and Sunny Hundall are the same or at least similar, with the EDL being simply a logical expression of muscular liberalism. Its a large mistake. Someone like Sunny Hundall, whatever his criticisms of anti-fascist organisations, could well find himself on a counter-demonstration to the EDL without breaking from his existing politics in coming years. This is not possible with those marching with the EDL.

    In addition your point about the Italian fascist squads is incoherent. Of course they built up their spirit by attacking the left and wc movement physically in street fighting. But this was built up on the basis of DEFEATING the left. The failure to use numbers to drive them back (a failure compounded by far more serious political difficulties then those we face today) is what led to that fighting spirit rising. It is simply a mistake to think that the EDL is an apolitical outfit (although this is possibly true of some drawn to it). This is a movement premissed on demonising a minority on British society and taking to the streets to intimidate and terrify anyone who opposes this. The ‘kick’ here is political. They are at the very least a proto-fascist movement and it is incredibly dangerous to believe that they will simply disapear if they are ignored.

    They would gain huge confidence if this was the case. The headlines would not be EDL clash with anti-fascists. The headlines would be ‘British people protest about Muslims’. We can already see how happy they are being praised by the police (this represents, as far as recent times go, a new departure and something the left should notice) and the media. This would grow not diminish if there was no counter-movement. For precisely the reasons we agree on.

    As to celebrations of multi-culturalism and building a broader movement, I’m all for it. Its the need of the hour. But the belief that the it was the UAF who were responsible for the violence who are ‘squadists’ etc, is not only a lie, it also seriously understates the degree to which there is a systematic campaign to criminalise anti-racism. It is very foolish indeed to go along with this in the hope that they won’t come for you when you hold an event. Which recalls an old slogan.

  220. I suggest than anyone who thinks that Saturday’s events were a success for the anti-racist left should dspend a few hours in Bolton this week.

    From the people I’ve spoken to the UAF are seen as little more than a bunch of hooligans. And this from p[eople who were happy last week to call on the council to ban the EDL. They now want both sides banned. Hardly a success. The EDL have supporters who are crowing with delight about how the ‘thugs of the UAF’ were shown up as the ‘real danger’ to public order.

    Andy’s very sensible suggestions should be given careful consideration. We cannot afford to give the EDL another propaganda victory like Saturday. Meanwhile the real Nazis of the BNP are busy building an electoral base – while much of the left is looking for the next fight.

  221. August on said:

    Andy’s analysis is very compelling. I don’t want to take anything away from those who demonstrated in Bolton and snide attacks on them are of no help whatsoever.

    But I’ve become increasingly worried by the gang-mentality betrayed in so much of the comment. I didn’t want to believe it, but then a friend confirmed, that a common chant at UAF counterprotests has become “If it wasn’t for the coppers you’d be dead” directed at the EDL. This is worse than useless. It is immensely dangerous. It does nothing to politically fragment the EDL and it does everything to signal to a wider public that the counterprotesters are no better.

    Then there are the moralistic and frankly militaristic justifications for the kind of confrontation pursued. It should be of enormous concern that there appears to have been very little local mobilisation for the Bolton protest. Bolton is not a small town and the numbers on the protest suggest there were very few roots for it locally.

    This was a national mobilisation but even the most generous estimate demonstrates great weakness. There’s something wrong with this strategy. Yet it appears to be being repeated for the protest in a couple of weeks in Dudley. My fear is that the turnout there will be smaller and even more politically directionless, with more shrill cries of ‘smashing the EDL’.

    Andy’s right about the extent of Islamophobia. But that doesn’t mean there is not a large middle ground to be won. These tactics as far as I can see will only alienate that middle ground and isolate the hard left.

    None of that means rubbishing the effots of those involved.

  222. #256

    ” Someone like Sunny Hundall, whatever his criticisms of anti-fascist organisations, could well find himself on a counter-demonstration to the EDL without breaking from his existing politics in coming years. This is not possible with those marching with the EDL. “

    I never suggested that Sunny Hundal had similar politics to the EDL, but clearly the “against multiculturaism” article that he just published is the intelectual background which informs the “common sense” of the EDL

    “In addition your point about the Italian fascist squads is incoherent. Of course they built up their spirit by attacking the left and wc movement physically in street fighting. But this was built up on the basis of DEFEATING the left. The failure to use numbers to drive them back (a failure compounded by far more serious political difficulties then those we face today) is what led to that fighting spirit rising. ”

    No. The fascist goons in Italy were beaten as often as they won, and expecially in areas like Turin and Milan it was the left and not the facsists who prevailed at street fighting. What swung it on a national basis was when the the state shifted to back the fascisti.

    the key here is to understand the role that physical confrontation can play in FEEDING the growth of the far right in particular circumstances.

    “This is a movement premissed on demonising a minority on British society and taking to the streets to intimidate and terrify anyone who opposes this. ”

    But the demonisation is not one that starts with them, the demonisation of Muslims is deeply rooted in mainstream and even liberal opinion. What distinguishes the EDL is not their hostility to Islam, but their willingness to embrance hooliganism – that is their Achilles heel.

    “We can already see how happy they are being praised by the police (this represents, as far as recent times go, a new departure and something the left should notice) and the media. This would grow not diminish if there was no counter-movement. ”

    A political victory gifted to the EDL by the UAF/SWP. Instead of exploiting the weakness of the EDL, their association with political violence, the UAF decided to blur the difference between the left and the right. Rhetoric of “smashing”, Military analogies like “No Pasaran”, chanting at them like you are rival football fans. You have precisely provided the ritualistic theatre of confrontation that the macho hooligan culture thrives on.

    “But the belief that the it was the UAF who were responsible for the violence who are ’squadists’ etc, is not only a lie, it also seriously understates the degree to which there is a systematic campaign to criminalise anti-racism.”

    Squaddism is about political approach, not about violence. UAF have a very confused position here, talking up the rhetoric of confrontation, and then being indecisive on the day whether they suport it or not (see the Edinburgh SDL counter demo).

    What is needed is absolute clarity that we stand for peaceful multi-culturalism; and that the EDL are the hooligans. We live in a liberal democracy, and we can use democratic pressure to ensure that the power of the state is used to contain violent extremists like the EDL.

    unfortunately the SWP seem to have taken a wild swerve to the left over this issue, just when calm heads were needed.

  223. richsw on said:

    Re: Andy N @252

    johng has dealt with several important aspects of your post, but there’s another, relating to

    ‘The other big difference is that within their own famillies and communities, the Islamophobic common sense of the EDL makes a lot of sense, and they will be receiving a lot of validation for that aspect.’

    I regularly do an SW sale at my local college, and the situation is far more complex than this. Racism/fascism/EDL is a ‘live’ issue, in that you can sense there is a resonance for racist ideas, and the EDL members/periphery are more confident than racists were even a year ago – this accords with what you say. What doesn’t, though, is that there also much larger numbers, though not a majority, who will openly associate with anti-EDL ideas. There is no need to concede to the idea that they feel ‘validated’, as it doesn’t reflect the reality.

    Also, if you argue with an EDLer – not for their benefit, but for those who are listening – you find there’s no ring-fence around Islamophobia. That is, it’s the generality of racist ideas that matters – Islamophobia is usually only the first, quite short, bit of the exchange. Face reality here.

  224. #259
    It takes a multi-pronged approach, Andy. Yes, we must engage at the democratic and legislative level but the most immediate need is to provide a physical presence on the street so that these hooligans do not have the confidence to escalate their attacks on minorities. This is the only real language they understand. If we don’t take up the cause of attempting to wrest back the streets from fascists then minority communities will do so ( the police are notoriously unreliable/unwilling to help in these situations) on their own, which plays into the “race war” scenario that these fascists are trying to stoke.

  225. #260

    richsw

    “There is no need to concede to the idea that they feel ‘validated’, as it doesn’t reflect the reality.”

    Well you have misunderstood, you don’t need a majority to feel validated, you just need a minority who approve of what you are doing.

    The EDL are a very inchoate phenomenon, there is a lot of angst, a lot of exclusion, and deflected patriotism; but Islamophobia is maing a certain form of racism acceptable. that is our big challenge.

  226. #261

    ” If we don’t take up the cause of attempting to wrest back the streets from fascists then minority communities will do so ( the police are notoriously unreliable/unwilling to help in these situations) on their own, which plays into the “race war” scenario that these fascists are trying to stoke.”

    The danger here is in building sef-delusion about that the left can achieve.

    What is most marked is the diminishing ability of the UAF to draw behind it people outside the ranks of the already committed hard left. there is a vicuous circle at work here, as the more urgent the UAF’s calls to arms are, the more isolated from the mainstream labour movement it becomes

    “wresting” back the streets does not need to be counched in terms of violence and confrontation. We need to counterpose to the EDL a peaceful celebration of multi-culturalism, in strong alliance with the Musim cmmunities under attack. that is confidence building, and forging the civil society allainces that are realy needed to isolate the EDL

  227. Here is a classic

    Some UAF numptie chanting “nazi Scum off our streets” while the EDL were having two minutes silence for dead British soldiers.

    I am a little confused, are you actually trying to recruit these people into the BNP???

    Or is this part of the “multi-pronged” strategy???

  228. #260

    “if you argue with an EDLer – not for their benefit, but for those who are listening ”

    yes heaven forbid that you might have a converstaion with a confused wrking class lad “for his own benefit”

    What are the left coming to?

  229. “We need to counterpose to the EDL a peaceful celebration of multi-culturalism, in strong alliance with the Musim cmmunities under attack. that is confidence building, and forging the civil society allainces that are realy needed to isolate the EDL.”

    #263
    Point taken, but that is a very slow process and if the fascists in the meantime start terrorising minority communities even more brazenly, what then?

    Also, I’ve little experience in the activist community over here but I suspect much of the lack of attendance to UAF and anti-fascist demos in general may just be due to poor publicising and the fact that economic hard times
    make people more preoccupied with personal issues ( not to mention lack of travel money).

  230. #266

    “in general may just be due to poor publicising and the fact that economic hard times
    make people more preoccupied with personal issues ( not to mention lack of travel money).”

    Well 3200 people managed to make it from Norwich to watch their team play Swindion on Saturday, paying over £20 a ticket on top of the travel costs, so times aren’t THAT hard.

    The nature of the UAF protest excluded there being the posibility of a peaceful celebration of multiculturalism instead.

  231. johng on said:

    In the first place UAF does not use a language of ‘violence’ and ‘confrontation’. The police say they do and the media obediantly parrots it. The evidence being presented for this are simply the use of anti-fascist slogans like ‘non passeran’. I think it is very regrettable that folk are attempting to associate the lessons of the 20th century with ‘violence’, effectively aiding what will become a campaign to criminalise anti-racism in toto. Suggesting that what people shout after hours of violent police assault and attempts by the EDL to do the same (including hurling glass bottles at kettled protesters from behind police lines) is similarly misguided.

    The immense discipline under the most extraordinary provocation from a police force led by an officer who saw fit to publicly praise the EDL at the same time as launching a campaign of abuse very early on in the day in the media, is the most striking thing about the day. There was one police injury throughout the whole day which could be concievably be laid at the door of demonstraters: a dislocated finger. Given that fingers are connected to gloved fists its quite possible that it would be a mistake to lay this at the door of demonstraters as well.

    Far from being militaristic or squaddist this was an excercise in non-violence and passive resistance to repeated and unprovoked violence.

    In the second place it is indeed true that the EDL are coasting on a more general tide of reaction. This is always true. I know of no example of a serious challenge from the far right where it is not (and there is nothing particularly profound or insightful about recognising this: it is in fact obvious). It is however a basic axiom that the job of those confronted by the rise of the organised far right is to seperate those inculcated with general prejudices in a passive way, from those attempting to organise those passive prejudices on the streets: in other words to turn a general reactionary atmosphere into a concrete movement.

    And oddly what you find in much public reaction to the EDL reflects this. Their violence and their thuggishness provokes hostility even amongst those who have some Islamaphobic prejudices. But it is not simply a question of violence and Islamophobia. In the discussion of muscular liberalism (I won’t keep referring to Sunny or he’ll feel a bit got at!) I think you confuse views which might lead to Islamophobia with Islamophobia itself. This is an old, and ironically, ultra-left mistake. There is a possible connection between muscular liberalism and Islamophobia. There is not a neccessary connection.

    Much more importantly though what is being ignored is the way in which on every EDL demonstration much broader arguments about conspiricies to transform Britain into a multi-cultural society and immigration itself become central. These arguments go beyond arguments about the war and Islamophobia and I think this needs to be recognised. Clinging on to the notion that what is going on in British society is just about Islamophobia I think represents both a considerable underestimation of the danger, and at the same time limits possibilities of building a counter-concensus.

    To abuse Sunny Hundal one more time (!): I have disagreements with him about many things. I have less disagreements with him then some other liberals. But I would be happy to have him on a demonstration confronting rampaging thugs. I don’t believe that we have to win every argument about the war and Islamophobia to begin to take on the current threat. I increasingly think this is where you are coming from (correct me if I’m wrong) and I think its profoundly mistaken.

    This partly relates to problems of mobilisation. We are used to mobilising on the basis of massive shifts of public opinion. The war and its conduct partly won that battle for us. This is not to understate the work of those involved in political activity around these questions. But it is to say that not every struggle is like that. In the current situation we are being forced to start small and build up. This requires a different set of methods. Its a new situation.

    I think a failure to recognise this lies behind much of this dispute. I do think comrades should stop blaming the left for police violence and media complicity with it. Its counterproductive and helps no-one on the left.

  232. neprimerimye on said:

    Andy the idea that the EDL actually give a damn about the lives of British soldiers is a sick idea. Are so out of touch with the fascist political nature of the EDL leadership that you take this seriously?

    You show more concern for the sensibilities of lumpen rubbish than you do for an elderly gentleman, like my father a veteran of fighting Nazism in WW 2, assaulted by the police. Shame on you!

    I wonder as to whether your own recently discovered patriotism has anything to do with your fiegned outrage on this unimportant incident. The wars of the British state are not our wars.

  233. “Also, I’ve little experience in the activist community over here but I suspect much of the lack of attendance to UAF and anti-fascist demos in general may just be due to poor publicising and the fact that economic hard times”

    There was no shortage of publicity in Bolton. The UAF protest was top news for days in advance of saturday. It was the major topic of discussion where i work. People chose to stay away not because they didn’t know but theose chose not to attend. now there are mnany reasons for this but one was the threat of violence.

    In the aftermanth many of those people – who are prouid of Bolton’s multi-cultural society – will be feeling vindicated in their decision to stay away. Onlty trouble is that many of them are blaming UAF for the violence rather than the EDL. The defence of multiculturalism in Bolton was set back on Saturday. The left looked like thugs and the EDL had a ball. it takes a certain genius to decribe this as a success. It takes an idiot to think this needs to be replicated when next the EDL declare they want to protest again.

  234. David Ellis on said:

    #252 Andy: the Black Hundreds in Russia were quite happy to carry out their massacres of Jews whether there was opposition to it or not. If there was no opposition they simply killed more and the Black Hundreds are a good historic parallel for the EDL. johng has made some good points at #256 I think.

    On your other points: It is very important that secular progressive forces stand shoulder to shoulder with hard-pressed Muslim communities. It is important that anti-fascist forces muster against the EDL pogromists and that Respect offers them a non-sectarian political voice in opposition to imperialist wars and economic hardship. Failure to do so will not only leave those communities isolated and vulnerable but it will encourage fundamentalist elements to take charge of the `defence’ of those communities leading to the cranking up of the very security dilemma the EDL leadership is hoping to create i.e. the very thing it hypocritically claims to be against: civil war. If the struggle against the EDL becomes identifiable as English reason versus Muslim fundies because of the withdrawal or indifference of the left then the EDL will be on the road to victory. If, however, the radical left continue in alliance with Muslim youth and communities to push them back then they will begin to lose and will be seen amongst the broad popular masses for what they increasingly are being seen as: thugs, bullies and political opportunists whose foot soldiers are only there for the beer money.

    In actual fact the EDL are doing the left a favour at the moment. It is forcing a rare practical unity on the radical left but also shining a very bright light on the methods and actions that they adopt and the kind of leadership they provide for the broader workers movement to inspect. The UAF has proved successful so far but often despite itself. The complete inability of the SWP leadership to act in exemplary fashion, their arrogant belief that they can treat everybody on these demos as if they were SWP members and then their penchant for treating their own members like idiots is a dangerous disorganising factor. The SWP membership along with others are showing great courage but it is time for it to show some intelligence and bring its self-serving CC to heal so that the UAF can continue to lead the line but also connect with new forces and grow.

  235. richsw on said:

    Andy N @ 265: ‘yes heaven forbid that you might have a converstaion with a confused wrking class lad “for his own benefit”’

    Don’t be silly. I was there, you weren’t. He was a racist, possibly a fascist, and he wasn’t in the slightest confused. Our arguments made no impact on him, but his mates were a different matter.

  236. #268

    “In the first place UAF does not use a language of ‘violence’ and ‘confrontation’. “

    oh come on John, don’t be so disingenuous. Lenin’s Tomb has the title of an article saying that the EDL were “chased off the streets”, there have been comparisons with Lewisham, Cable Street. I have heard people chanting on YouTube “Police protect the nazis” “If it wasn’t for the coppers you’d be dead”, “nazi scum off our sreets”, “Whose streets? our streets”

    These may not quite have the sharp wit and lyrical ring of “who are yer? who are yer?” but they amount to the same thing.

    You have decided to treat the EDL as if they are a fascist army, which is what “No Pasaran” means.

    “Their violence and their thuggishness provokes hostility even amongst those who have some Islamaphobic prejudices. “

    Oh really? why do you repeat back to me my own argument as if you were disagreeing with me?

    It is precisely their hooliganism that is their weak spot, and that is why our response needs to be carefully calibrated to exaggerate that weakness of theirs, not to appear symmetrical with them.

    I have no idea why you continue touting your misunderstanding of what I am saying about the explicitly anti-Islamic article published on Liberal Conspuiracy, but that is a side issue.

    JOhn, whenever the SWp start to get a hammering you pretend to be as stupid as Ray is, but this is surely the most asinine thing you have ever written here:

    “I don’t believe that we have to win every argument about the war and Islamophobia to begin to take on the current threat. I increasingly think this is where you are coming from (correct me if I’m wrong) and I think its profoundly mistaken.”

    Clearly I am not arguing any such thing.

    What I am saying is that the EDL are a bunch of thugs, reflecting common sense Islamophobia in a confused and threatening way. They have two weaknesses. i) that Islamophobia conficts uneasily with still very widespread commitment to multi-culturalism; ii) their hooliganism has only a very limited resonance outside of a small minority of young men.

    Celebrating multi-culturalism is the majority position in our society, some people don’t realise that this also means challenging Islamophobia and tolerating religious difference, but they can be won to that position.

    Opposing hooliganism is the overwhelming mainstream position in our society.

    Celebrating multi-culturalism while at the same time rejecting hooliganism opens a very wide door for us to challenge mainstream Islamophobia.

    However, the UAF seem to be happy to squander these advantages in the misguided and self-serving beleifs that i) the EDL are facsists; and ii) you have some priviliged access to knowledge of how to fight fascism, and that it means behaving like an ANL re-enactment society.

    “In the current situation we are being forced to start small and build up. This requires a different set of methods. Its a new situation. “

    Yes, but you are starting small,. and getting smaller. Because the political basis you are building on has very little resonance in the wider workers movement, and minimal support in BME communites.

    What is more, history doesn’t wait for the SWP to catch up. the task is to counter the EDL in the here and now with the political assets that we have available to us. Which means mobilising mainstream pro-democratic opinion against EDL hooliganism.

    It seems that the UAF are so single minded that your silly street theatre is the only way to confront the EDL that you oblivious to the facts that i) you don’t have the resources to carry it off; ii) you are being counter-productive; and iii) that other options might work better.

    I can’t help feel that there is some institutional bias operating at the unconscious level here from the SWP who desperately want to see themselves the best anti-Nazis to make up for the bad times you have been having recently.

    But similarly the much reduced political capital of the SWP means that it is much harder for you to build the broader allainces necessary

  237. #274

    Yes John

    and that could have been the front page story on the national tabloids exposing the hooligan nature of the EDL, except the UAF gifted a diffrent story to the press.

    Clearly the political context that was created made a difference to the police approach, where the EDL were seen as being cooperative wth the cops, and the UAF were non-cooperative.

    The trouble is that from the point of view of the police, the Bolton council, the mainstream media and many ordinary people in Bolton, there was little to chose between UAF and EDL.

    These are the battles we need to win – hearts and minds.

  238. johng on said:

    Yes Andy but your main motivation is to ensure that if the battle for hearts and minds is being carried out by those you have fairly trivial disagreements with that they lose.

    Sad.

  239. Anonymous on said:

    Andy’s views is balanced with what the Bolton public experienced on their streets.
    In the cold light of day or being a monday quarterback, surely we cannot ignore that there was public disorder in the ranks of the UAF, that we have got to address for the future’s sake. If we do not, the UAF will be seen as a rent a mob. Most comrades in the UAF want to protest non violently.

    I am for the Dudley communities and police dealing with the EDL themselves without outside interference.

  240. #276

    “but your main motivation is to ensure that if the battle for hearts and minds is being carried out by those you have fairly trivial disagreements with that they lose.”

    JohnG

    My motivation is that the EDL are defeated by the most effective means possible.

    You are raising some sort of loyalty test – so that once you set yourselves on a course that inevitably involved argy bargy with the police, then you are demanding that no-one questiosn whether you needed to go down that route in the first place.

    This is an attempted deleigitimaisation on your part of any disagreement over tactics and strategy.

    You got it wrong, and part of your getting it wrong led to unnecessary confrontation with the police, which gifted a political victory to the EDL.

  241. By confrontation with police you mean anti-racist protesters being roughed up by riot cops for no good reason, right?

    MRD

  242. richsw on said:

    @277 Comment by Anonymous: ‘I am for the Dudley communities and police dealing with the EDL themselves without outside interference.’

    So we ask the EDL to agree to Marquis of Queensberry rules? We assume that the police are neutral in this?

    The only result of your policy will be a strengthened EDL, which means a strengthened BNP.

  243. StevieB on said:

    Andy – whatever interesting points you make are weakened by a couple of beams in your own eye.

    Firstly, you suggest that the EDL aren’t fascist, just hooligans. Yet this is an organisation committed to mobilising violent protests to deny Muslims the right to any effective presence in society. Remember they are marching on mosques, or against the building of mosques. Further, on Saturday amongst the printed placards of the EDL were some which singled out Salma Yaqoob and Shahid Malik for special attention. Two prominent Muslim politicians with very different convictions, but unacceptable because they are prominent Muslim politicians.

    The EDL is organising a movement to suppress every public expression of Muslims. At the core of this is the same project as the BNP, as well as an overlap of personnel – regardless of how EDL paticipants see themselves. After all we regard the BNP as a fascist organisation, despite the fact that large numbers of BNPers seem themselves differently.

    Secondly, isn’t it a teensy bit embarassing for you that they are the “English Defence League”, given that you think there is some sort of English nationalism to build up? This is the supposedly alternative, hegemonic approach which Searchlight and yourself have championed. Yet the truth is that the EDL are also what English nationalism looks like.

    Whatever the successes or failures of Saturday’s action, the best line remains UAF’s commitment to establish a broad based coalition of social forces uniting the labour movement, faith communities, students and young people, lesbians and gays, people with disabilities, etc., in common action with a clear commitment to tackling Islamophobia. And with the celebration and defence of multi-culturalism as a frame for this work.

    There is no doubt that UAF will make the necessary adjustments following Saturday. The question is Andy, will you be part of it?

    Perhaps offering UAF a post on this site would be a good gesture from you?

  244. “Whatever the successes or failures of Saturday’s action, the best line remains UAF’s commitment to establish a broad based coalition of social forces uniting the labour movement, faith communities, students and young people, lesbians and gays, people with disabilities, etc., in common action with a clear commitment to tackling Islamophobia. And with the celebration and defence of multi-culturalism as a frame for this work.”

    precious little sign of that though is there?

    Were that to be the UAF’s trajectory then I would be delighted. In reality though the situation is much more confused with attempts by the SW t run with both the fox and the hounds over the question of physical force.

  245. Mark P on said:

    “Yet the truth is that the EDL are also what English nationalism looks like.”

    The crucial point of course is that only an absolutely tiny minority of those who identify with Englishness support the EDL, either passively or actively.

    The absolutely crucial task though is to drive a wedge between the racialised nationalism of the EDL, and far more significantly the BNP, and those who simply enjoy a patriotic affiliation to England.

    This is a task the politics of the UAF dictate they will have absolutely nothing to do with as they refuse to recognise any progressive value whatsoever in Englishness. This would leave the field clear to the EDL and BNP to frame Englishness in their own racialised terns. In the end a much more significant victory for the racists than is likely to be secured in a punch up on the streets of Bolton or elsewhere.

    Thankfully, increasing numbers of anti-racists and anti-fascists understand the centrality of contesting the racialised version of English nationalism with progressive alternatives, leaving the UAF’s politics utterly irrelevant to this crucial contest of ideas.

    Mark P

  246. Anonymous on said:

    Richsw, I am for non-violent protest, not boxing rules. If that is your intentions for Dudley, you will lose the hearts and minds of the vast majority of public support.

  247. I do think comrades should stop blaming the left for police violence and media complicity with it.

    I agree. It’s pretty shocking, as well as appalling. But they have made it very clear that they simply are not going to stop, johng.

  248. “Thankfully, increasing numbers of anti-racists and anti-fascists understand the centrality of contesting the racialised version of English nationalism with progressive alternatives…”

    And how has that worked so far? We’ve now got the leader of the BNP in high public office plus many BNP councillors across the country (including multi-cultural London). What form does this “alternate nationalism” take and why has it not taken root? I am genuinely curious.

  249. richsw on said:

    Anonymous @285: ‘I am for non-violent protest’ – no you’re not, you’re for (i) abandoning places to racist allcomers, and (ii) the left getting kicked-in by the Bill & EDL. Get serious.

  250. Mark P on said:

    Omar

    Just consider this. From early June onwards hundreds of thousands, millions, will wave and wear St George, supporting their team, celebrating their nation. Its been the same most summers since ’96. Black and white, young and old, mums, dads, kids. Supporting and celebrating a multicultural team and nation, entirely divorced from a Far Left with its fixation on how reactionary Englishness must be. And for the vast majority without any support or sympathy for BNP or EDL either.

    If the BNP or EDL was truly the representative of this Englishness then Griffin would be forming the government, the EDL mobilising a street-fighting army in tens of thousands. Neither are, yet the longer the left divorces itself from this progressive patriotism the more it cuts itself off from the real breadth of opposition that could defeat the BNP and EDL for good.

    Mark P

  251. When was it you decided to base your entire political outlook on wanting to feel good about supporting England?

  252. Anonymous on said:

    Mark P

    What progressive patriotism? you have singly failed to point to anything progressive about it, all you’ve said is millions support the england team who don’t support the BNP or EDL.

    How, where and when ae you esponding to the EDL marching through uk cities?

    if not, then bog off and wave your flag somewhere else

  253. The UAF are neither fish nor fowl. They talk militant confrontational anti fascism then time after time are meek as lambs as they allow themselves to be penned in by the police. Theres a need for a multifaceted approach to tackling the EDL and racist islamophobia. The EDL have cruelly exposed the political, organisational and lack of support in the wwc of the left.

  254. “Just consider this. From early June onwards hundreds of thousands, millions, will wave and wear St George, supporting their team, celebrating their nation.”

    No, they will be hoping England don’t go out on penalties and bemoaning them when they do. This is not your multicultural nationalism, this is supporting a football team. An overrated football team.

    MRD

  255. You’d think the fash of the day might try harder.
    Though to be fair, these comments could have come straight out of Dick LittleJ’s column in the Daily Hate.

    MRD

  256. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    I will vote for any party that pledges to deport the likes of David Radford so that the rest of us can get on with living together in peace.

  257. #291
    Sorry Mark, I was expecting something a bit more nuanced than supporting England’s football team. You do, of course, realise that many of those same millions who were happily cheering would be the same ones who tut-tutted at contrived tabloid reports about bogus asylum seekers, Asian “no-go” areas, etc and who would like to shut the doors to refugees,? So, once again, how does this progressive patriotism manifest itself?

  258. Now that we’ve been joined by full-on nazi, I think it’s time to close the thread.