Thousands of antifascists on a united demonstration marched in London, outnumbering Tommy Robinson and his supporters, reports Julie Al-Hinai
The centre of London was brought to a standstill and a standoff again today as thousands took to the streets representing both sides of the racist discourse, one largely argued around Brexit. While Tommy Robinson led an onslaught of fellow fascists, hugely represented by UKIP and their call for a right-wing Brexit and under the banner of “Brexit Betrayal”, greater numbers came out and stood up to say “No to fascism” in any of its divisive forms and “No” to Tommy and his neo-con, neo-Nazi, international funders such as Steve Bannon and Geert Wilders. Meanwhile, the enormous numbers of riot police were stretched in keeping the two sides as far apart geographically as they are politically.
Encouragingly, those making up the anti-fascist, anti-racist resistance represented a range of organisations - some pro-Brexit and others remainers. Whatever these groups’ affiliations, they were united in their opposition to the racist insinuations of the Tommy Robinson movement - one that whips up the loyalty of a disaffected working class by playing to the negative consequences of years of neo-liberalism on the working classes and blaming it on immigration and Islam.
While there was the obvious and united opposition of huge numbers from Momentum, People’s Assembly, Stop the War, Stand Up to Racism, trades unions and CLPs, the message has to be protested further and wider if we are to check the growing movement of the far right, here and across Europe. We need to have more of us on the streets, more regularly and throughout the country. We need a larger and broader united front, loudly declaring Tommy doesn’t represent the majority of citizens, whether for or against Brexit. We need numbers to challenge his call to arms and to spread a counter-narrative recognising that migration, free movement and worker’s rights are not responsible for the hardship of the masses being experienced under Tory austerity. Neither will this hardship change whether inside or outside of Europe whilst the Tories hold power. And further, a recognition that our freedom from oppression is not in any way protected by remaining within the EU. The media are not going to do this for us.
Indeed, Tommy’s, and his cronies' hatred, along with their call for a right-wing, racist-based Brexit has to be opposed through a larger and united people’s movement; on our streets, in our unions, in our local political parties and through the unity of our working class.
Tommy Robinson and his supporters needed to know that there are more of us than there are of them and today’s street action went some way in letting them know just that. As we told them, loud and clear, the streets belong to us. Let us claim them back...in larger numbers, more vociferously and whenever necessary.