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Monday, 9 August 2010

Searchlight and UAF Try to Unite Before the Bradford EDL Demo

- from the Guardian's article, 'Fighting racism: united we must stand', by Peter Lazenby (left), 9th August, 2010

The thugs of the English Defence League must be stopped. Anti-fascist groups must heal their divisions and unite in the fight

The first three words of the headline on Matthew Taylor's excellent report in Saturday's Guardian on the English Defence League's proposed invasion of Bradford, said it all: "Divided we fall." [Will the many members of Bradford’s own EDL division also be ‘invading’ Bradford at the end of August? Can you invade your own city or country? What about the members of the Leeds, Huddersfield, Burnley, etc. EDL divisions? More to the point. What about the invasion by Martin Smith from Hackney or all those UAF who are from darn saath?]

Sadly, the anti-fascist movement is exactly that – divided – a state of affairs that must please the racist and fascist thugs of the English Defence League and their neo-Nazi fellow travellers. The division began years before the EDL took to the streets with its message of hate, but surely it is not too late to do something about it.

There are two main sections of the anti-fascist movement in Britain. One is Searchlight and its Hope Not Hate campaign, which mobilised more than 1,500 volunteers to help hammer the BNP out of existence from Barking and Dagenham council in May's elections, and delivered a humiliating blow to the BNP's leader Nick Griffin. A rejuvenated Labour party campaign also played its part. The other section of the movement is Unite Against Fascism, which can also mobilise support numbering in the thousands. [Why do these people use the word ‘mobilise’ in almost every sentence? I’ll tell you why. It’s because their fellow leftists use that word in almost every sentence. Leftists like nothing more than being the same as their fellow leftists. It’s the Leftist herd instinct really. This is also true of words and phrases like ‘fascist thugs’, ‘apartheid Israel’ and the like.]

The EDL's planned attack on Bradford – and attack is not too strong a word – has brought the division into stark relief. Searchlight and Hope Not Hate is campaigning vigorously to have the EDL march banned by the Home Office. But it is vehemently opposed to the mounting of any counter-demonstration. [That because Searchlight, being a Communist-run magazine and organisation, likes to achieve things through bureaucratic measure and the slow movement of the centralised Party itself. Trotskyist groups like Unite Against Fascism and Love Music: hate fascism, prefer scrapping with all those they consider ‘fascists’ or ‘Nazis’. Indeed they almost fetishize the reality of street fighting because they’ve read loads of books about 1920 and 30s Germany. And a good scrap with the EDL, or whoever else, can both radicalise and revolutionise those who are doing the fighting.]

Its fear, ably expressed by Searchlight director Nick Lowles, is that a counter demonstration could spark a riot similar to that which so damaged Bradford nine years ago, when far-right hoodlums provoked a response from Asian youth. [‘Far-right hoodlums’ didn’t ‘provoke a response from Asian youth’ in Bradford in 2001. Trotskyist activists did that job by spreading phone messages throughout the Muslim ghetto of Manningham telling Muslims that the National Front was on its way to Manningham; whereas, in fact, there was only a handful of NF some distance a way from Manningham, drinking in a Bradford pub, when the rioting started.]
Searchlight and its supporters can also argue that counter-demonstrations enable sections of the media to perpetuate the myth that fascists and anti-fascists are merely two sides of the same, violent coin. [Fascists and anti-fascists are ‘merely two sides of the same coin’. More correctly in this case, the far right is more or less identical to the Trotskyist front – especially when it comes to anti-Semitism, anti-democracy, the use of violence in politics and their shared black and white views of the world. Anarchists have made much of the similarities between the far left and the far right. That’s why the Commies have many times in history tried to obliterate the anarchist opposition.]
Unite Against Fascism is equally determined that there should be a counter-demonstration, a display of strength to demonstrate the unity of opposition among the people of Bradford – where almost one-third of the population is of Asian descent – to the racism of the EDL. [You may wonder why the Muslims of Bradford need middle-class Trots to defend them when Muslims make up ‘almost one-third of the population’. However, the Trots know that it’s not just their muscle that Muslims want, or need, but also their radicalising talents. That’s the important thing which Muslims need from Trots – or so the Trots think. Muslims, of course, don’t think this at all!]

It can cite in its support the successful mobilisation on the streets of tens of thousands of anti-fascists against Oswald Mosley's fascist blackshirts when they provocatively attempted to march through the Jewish quarter of the East End of London in 1936. Leeds was another battleground, where 1,000 blackshirts were seen off by a counter demonstration many times larger. Such examples from history present an emotive argument. [These Commies and Trots are obsessed by these historical events. Are they really so thick that they don’t realise how different things are in the UK today from what they were in London in 1936?

They also try to learn similar lessons from what happened in Germany in the 1920s and the 1930s. Here again, the differences are even more staggering. The Germans had both mass unemployment and huge inflation. Not only that. The Germans had a long far-right and militaristic tradition.

… Yes, sure, this is so England in 2010! They should stop reading all those books about the gang fights between Leftists and Nazis in the 20s and early 30s, as well as the ones about Mosley’s blackshirts and the events of 1936. This is where the bogus ‘Marxist theory’ comes from and why it is always spectacularly wrong when applied to today’s condition in the UK. Put your books down and look around. The English hate the far right nearly as much as they hate Trots and the far left. Do these Trots simply not understand the British character?]

Today's divide was not always there. When Unite Against Fascism was founded, Searchlight and its supporters were part of it. The fallout centred on the Socialist Workers party, and its perceived influence over UAF. As a result Searchlight and its supporters left UAF. [Do you want to know part of the reason why this split between UAF and Searchlight occurred? It was because Searchlight accused UAF/SWP of being (too) anti-Semitic – or at least many of its activists were. Not only that. They were also too comfortable with being in bed with misogynist and racist Islamists. When Weyman Bennett said that all Israelis ‘should go back to New York – or wherever it is that [They] come from’, that was one of the last straws which caused the split.
Then again, Commies and Trots have always been at each others throats. Both groups try to pretend that the differences are purely doctrinal. However, the real antagonism is that which is created when two power blocks manoeuvre for the same ground, whether that is for the support of Muslims or alliances with – or takeovers of - trades unions, etc.]
Now we have two parallel organisations campaigning against the fascists. The emergence of the English Defence League has polarised the division. [Have you noticed how these people don’t spend much – or any – time saying exactly why the EDL is ‘fascist’? They don’t need to. All they need to do is to say it. Then to keep on saying it. That will do the job of ‘mobilising’ and radicalising Muslims or whoever. Also, if you accuse the EDL of being fascist enough times, then soon even outsiders will start to believe it.]

The EDL has the potential to recreate the days of the National Front, when violent street confrontations were frequent. The EDL does not hesitate to attack its opponents and the police – its demonstrations in Stoke-on-Trent, Dudley, Nottingham and Birmingham provide the evidence of its violent nature. [Most of the violence at these events was caused by UAF; though not in Stoke, but most definitely in Bolton when many more UAF ‘activists’ were arrested than EDL. Not only that. Weyman Bennett, a leader of UAF, was also arrested in Bolton, whereas that other UAF leader, Martin Smith, was arrested at a London demo.]

The actions of anti-fascists will have a bearing on what is to come. I'm not going to argue the case for the tactics of either UAF or Searchlight/Hope Not Hate. They do that effectively themselves. But some years ago at the annual conference of my union, the National Union of Journalists, I urged my union's leadership to use the union's affiliation to UAF to try and bring the two sides together, to forge a genuinely united front against the fascists. [The far left will never ‘unite’ because there are too many egos competing with each other, as well as the fact that each leftist group has its own axis of power, which is inevitably threatened by all other leftist groups. Ideological differences between these leftist groups are but the froth served up to disguise the actual power struggles. (Does anyone remember the internecine wars between rival leftists groups in the early 1980s and before? They would rather have destroyed each other than do the same to the EDL or whoever the targets were at the time. Remember the WRP, Miltant, RCG, RCP, RSP, SWP, etc – leftist civil wars par excellence!)]

At the time the BNP was the threat, and the united front didn't happen. Now we have the EDL, and it still hasn't happened. The need for unity is more vital than ever, and I urge Searchlight/Hope Not Hate and Unite Against Fascism at the very least to find common ground where they can work together against the new threat confronting our communities. © Guardian News and Media 2010

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