Friday, 20 August 2010

Hope not Hate declares victory as history threatens to repeat itself in Bradford

Earlier this month, I laid out the argument for militant working class resistance against the English Defence League in Bradford. Specifically, I explained why both a state ban and a "unity event" which refused to directly confront the fascists were the wrong approaches to take.

Nonetheless, Hope not Hate reports that its campaign for a ban on the EDL has been succesful;
The Home Secretary has today banned the EDL march in Bradford on 28 August. While there is still the probability of a static protest the fact that the EDL will not be allowed to march through predominantly Asian areas of the city, as they had intended, must be welcomed.

The ban comes after the HOPE not hate campaign, through it's Bradford Together initiative, collected 10,700 signatures from within the city in three weeks. This equates to almost 6% of all adults. The campaign has brought together people of all ages, races and religions in a determined bid to stop racist hooligans invading the city and provoking trouble.

In the event of the EDL holding a static protest, Bradford Together will organise a peace vigil in Bradford city centre on the Friday (27 August). This will give local people an opportunity to show their opposition to the EDL and celebrate modern Bradford without fear of a confrontation. This event is being supported by the Bradford Council of Mosques, other faith and community groups and Yorkshire & Humber TUC.
Thus the debate between Hope not Hate and Unite Against Fascism is resolved to the advantage of both. HnH's opposition to any counter demonstration at all has disappeared, they get their state ban, albeit only on the march, and UAF get their non-confrontational event.

Meanwhile, the EDL are insisting on Facebook that "bradford is still going ahead a 100 percent. we are doing a static demo which the police have agreed will be ok" [sic]. Thus, the city will still be invaded by several hundred fascists who, if past experience is anything to go by, will be boozed up and screaming racial epithets across a city torn apart by race riots nine years ago.

On which point, incidentally, it is worth noting that the National Front were banned from marching in Bradford back then. They still turned up in the city, as the EDL plan to do, and ignited tensions that had been building for weeks.

Thus, as the Stop Racism and Fascism network have reiterated, the only real defence lies in direct confrontation;
Leaving the EDL to march through Bradford without mass opposition does not guarantee the safety of the local Asian population. On other EDL demonstrations the police have at times been unable or unwilling to control these racist thugs. In Luton the EDL managed to smash up Asian owned shops and in Dudley they attacked a Hindu temple. In both of these cases the anti-racist counter demonstration was small or non-existent. Only a large, organised counter-demonstration that outnumbers the EDL several times over will be able to guarantee this kind of attack cannot happen.
The point of antifascism is not to give the state a mandate for repression. It is not to hold a big, colourful party at the same time as fascists are rampaging elsewhere and call it a "victory." It is to confront the far-right, both physically and ideologically, and defend our communities - our class - from them.

If we ignore that and grow complacent, especially now that a ban on marching has been issued, then we might as well watch history repeat itself before our eyes.