Trades unionists and activists from the North West and beyond gathered in Liverpool on Saturday to make a high profile stand against fascism. Chris Nineham reports
Liverpool has seen a number of attacks and threats by fascists on left wing activists, a radical bookshop and a trade union office over the last few months.
Unite the union spearheaded the initiative to hold a demonstration aiming to make it clear that the labour movement is not going to allow this kind of intimidation to continue.
The demonstration was headed up by big Unite and Unison contingents, but there were also delegations from the PCS civil service union, postal workers from the CWU, teachers from the NUT, trades councils from the North West, and Unite against Fascism. The demonstration became a carnival as it marched down Dale Street with union marching bands, an Irish flute band, and the Liverpool socialist choir in full song.
The march ended on the Mersey Pierhead where it was addressed by trade union leaders including Unite's Len McCluskey, as well as the Mayor of Liverpool, Salma Yaqoob from Birmingham and Weyman Bennett from Unite against Fascism.
No to racism, no to cuts
Len McCluskey remarked that the fight against fascism involves not just clearing the EDL and the BNP off the streets but confronting the ideology of racism. We face a government committed to divide and rule: "trying to divide black and white, working people and the unemployed, able bodied and disabled. and the ideology of divide and rule is part of the whole project of austerity".
McCluskey went on to say that confronting austerity is vital to providing hope and undercutting racism: "as the elections approaches, we have to keep the pressure up to try to force Labour to commit to real change; a million new homes, a massively increased minimum wage and real investment to strengthen our communities".
As some of the speakers pointed out, racist leader Tommy Robinson's break with the EDL is a sign that the far right is on the retreat. Going on to the offensive against them and linking the fight against racism with a mass anti-austerity movement is the way to keep them on the run.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
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