Message from Brent & Harrow UAF , details below (acknowledgements to Andy Hewett & Martin Francis):
"We've just published this report of last weekend's mobilisation against the EDL in Manchester - http://socialistresistance.org/?p=689 Alf Fidler was an organiser of the counter-mobilisation in Harrow. Come along and join the discussion!".
The rise of the far right in Britain today
"What it is, and how to fight it. With Alf Filer (Brent & Harrow UAF)"
04 November at 19:30
Indian YMCA, Fitzroy Square, London
Manchester anti-fascists confront English Defence League
October 12th, 2009 • Related • Filed Under
Filed Under: Anti-racism • Featured
On Saturday October 10, around 2000 anti-facists mobilised in central Manchester to prevent the English Defence League from marching through the city centre. According to this report from a local Socialist Resistance supporter, the police greatly over-estimated the number of EDL supporters (closer to 100, not 500 or 700). There were 500 police.
The response to the EDL was organised around the United Against Fascism rally in Piccadilly Gardens which started at 12.00. The EDL had been shifting the time of their march backwards and forwards, mainly forwards from the morning to later in the afternoon so they could get tanked up in the pubs first. Eventually they, the EDL, had to respond to the UAF rally, and they did not actually march at all.
Police were a massive presence before 12.00, including up and around the Canal Street gay village area, and were lining the streets every ten feet or so as we arrived. The rally was just about to get going after 12.00 when the EDL appeared at the north east of Piccadilly Gardens, at the bottom of Newton Street, and the rally crowds rushed over to confront them, with police in between, and then it went on like that through most of the afternoon with the fascists moving around the back streets to appear at the top of Market Street north west of the Gardens, then around to the south where the bus ranks are, and so on. It was a mixture of tense and tedious. The rally dispersed around 4.30, and police escorted the EDL to coaches and trains around 5.00. Some of the police accounts reflected a change in political climate over multiculturalism over the last few years, along the lines that trouble-makers shouting racist taunts would be dealt with, but things felt a little more like the old days when police dogs and horses were used to push back the Rally into the Gardens. Protesters on the rally side were injured, including with dog-bites. I don’t know about the EDL. The EDL numbers looked quite small, perhaps under a hundred, and we were, as the reports said more like 2000, mainly the white left, fellow travellers and liberal allies of different kinds with sizeable proportion of more anarchist type students. There were some Asian and black youth, but not really organised as such, and it didn’t seem like these communities had mobilised for it. Support for the EDL right to march, in texts and emails to local newspapers and blogs, has been quite high, and the BNP, who are behind the EDL, have been trying to pretend that the EDL includes liberals fearful of ‘islamification’, perhaps with some success (and the BNP have even suggested that the EDL is a Zionist front designed to cause race war, which has caused some confusion). But the EDL did not march and the Gardens were held all afternoon, which is something.