Memoirs of a wretched day in Dudley…

Okay, so it wasn’t totally wretched. The thugs and racists of the EDL got the bad press, and so far as I am aware, no-one taking part in the Unit Against Fascism demo were beaten up or arrested. An improvement on Bolton, then.

However, the anti-EDL demo was less than the “great success” that the speakers on the platform and UAF web site claims. The UAF was confined to a car park, away from the central market area, which had been the original gathering point. It had clearly been carefully chosen to make it easy to contain us. The main group of the EDL were in another car park, some miles away, close to the proposed site of the new mosque. At the peak there were around 1,000 people in the UAF demo, while estimates of EDL numbers varied between 750 and 3,000, and groups of their supporters turned up where we were, trying to taunt and provoke us.

The problem is, there was a lack of credible leadership from the platform. Many of the young people were angry, were wanting to do something. The response of the stewards and speakers on the platform only served to increase their frustration. They repeatedly tried to tell us what a brilliant time we were having, in a car park in the rain. One speaker was saying that, if the EDL came, we should “let the Police do their jobs” because we “pay them a lot of money,” while the stewards did the Police’s job for them. However, just as with the anti-NF protests in the 70s, events in Bolton recently show that the police are more than willing to protect fascists, while beating up and arresting those protesting against them.

It is clear that, at the moment we need to build a much bigger anti-fascist movement, and discourage false heroism. However, we need politics from the platform that go beyond liberalism. The strategy of opposing fascism needs to be articulated, and the anger channeled rather than attempting to diffuse it. In other words, the UAF needs to become a proper United Front.

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2 Responses to “Memoirs of a wretched day in Dudley…”

  1. Matthew Caygill Says:

    Okay Rob – but what should the organiser’s have done? Gone for direct confrontation – while outnumbered?

  2. robhogg Says:

    No, that would not have been a good thing, and it is a difficult question – what you do in such circumstances. However, I don’t think repeatedly telling everyone how brilliant the day was, engaged with the reality of the situation.

    My actions, I admit, were not much more constructive. The behaviour of the stewards seriously put my back up. Rather than just trying to prevent aggro with the police, they were then trying to herd everyone into a small area in the middle of the car park (which was not to my taste, due to the excessive bass levels of the sound system).

    However, I think that to move forwards, we need to accept the reality of where we are, and the left groups need to stop toeing the line set by the liberals.

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