Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Taking on the far right, why we must get serious
Over the weekend and last week there has been a upsurge in racist attacks and the likes of the EDL seem to have seen a increase in their numbers whilst this may be a temporary increase we still must be rigorous in our opposition to all forms of racism and any form of fascism be that on the streets with the likes of the EDL or through the state. Racism is something we cannot take lightly and we must look to confront it wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head. I thought I’d re cap on the socialist party and formally Militants attitude to fighting the far right and our strategies we look to push for. There is the popular front model the likes of the SWP and the UAF look to push with tries to unite everyone whether you’re a labour party MP or councillor who has just made cuts or religious figures celebrities the lot unity for the UAF is something which just means getting everyone together then we can all stop the fascists they tell us. For the SWP fascism is always on the verge of taking over they have to up hold this line as UAF would cease to exist if they actually told us that fascism isn’t about to take over but we must be on our guard against it and any forms of racism. Looking back to last year’s EDL demonstration in Walthamstow which I think is a good place to look at and how the community organised and how the socialist party saw things at the time and our disagreements with the UAF and the SWP. The first was the political basis of the campaign. We all agreed on the need to mobilize the biggest opposition possible to the EDL, and we were all prepared to link arms with anyone on the day to oppose them. However, Socialist Party members argued that the most important force to mobilise is the working class, and in particular the organised working class in the trade unions. Deepening austerity means that there is the potential for the EDL, or a force like it, to grow, unless the campaign against them is united with the campaign to stop the cuts. Hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs; millions more are hit by attacks on their pensions and the public sector pay freeze. Benefits are being stripped away, while essential services are slashed. Yet 85% of the cuts are still to be implemented. We are told that the cuts will continue until at least 2020. When fighting the EDL we need maximum unity. All sections of our communities have an important part to play. But it is a massive, united campaign of working class people that has the power not only to marginalise and smash groupings like the EDL, but to hold out hope in a real future to those small layers of people who might be attracted by them. The big events of 2011(the 26 March TUC demo, 30 June and 30 November public sector strikes) and the 10 May strike in 2012, all show that the organised working class in the trade unions has the power to mobilise masses of people in decisive action. The trade unions should be at the heart of any fight against the EDL, making it clear that they stand firmly in the interests of defending all sections of our communities against austerity attacks. Yet under the SWP leadership of 'We are Waltham Forest' the trade unions only played a peripheral role. It would take preparation, but the serious mobilisation of firefighters, bin workers and so on in the borough would have had an even greater impact on the ability of the EDL to march. In fact the SWP insisted throughout that the campaign could not take up these class issues against cuts. But it’s the SWP’s welcoming of pro cuts labour representatives which isn’t helpful we find. The Socialist Workers Party argued that in order to achieve maximum unity against the EDL the campaign should not introduce issues that might alienate some people, and 'not everyone is against the cuts'. In particular this referred to Labour councillors who implement cuts and Labour MPs who do not oppose cuts. The argument went that many people have joined the Labour Party recently and still vote Labour, and so Labour's involvement would draw more people into activity. If the campaign against the EDL was also against cuts, Labour leaders would not get involved, so the campaign could not oppose cuts. While of course we had no opposition to Labour Party members being involved in the campaign and mobilising on the day, we argued that it was a mistake to uncritically put up politicians such as New Labour MP Stella Creasy and local Labour councillors as speakers and leaders of this campaign. The reality is that those working class people who vote Labour and the few who have joined Labour are seeking protection against the cuts. It is the policies of the main political parties - the Tory-Lib Dem government and the Labour councillors who pass on their cuts in our borough - that create the despair and division in which the EDL thrives. It is Labour's betrayal of the hopes of masses of working class people that led to nearly 70% of the electorate not voting for anyone in the 2012 council elections. Labour politicians' uncriticised involvement could put off many workers whose jobs and livelihoods have been torn away. In fact, the Labour council encouraged people not to take part in the counter-demonstration. They even failed to put up any real opposition to the EDL planning its rally in front of the Town Hall, claiming they had no powers to stop them - despite having previously tried to stop anti-cuts campaigners holding stalls in the town square! But the growth of the far-right in some European countries is a clear warning as to what could develop in Britain. In Greece the lives of millions of working and middle-class people have been shattered and the social consequences have been devastating. Public sector workers have seen wages slashed by 40%. Many workers are paid starvation wages of €400 per month. The number of hospital beds is being slashed by 50%. Thousands of schools have been closed down. Many thousands have become homeless. Unemployment is over 21%, - 51% amongst youth. In these conditions the neo-fascist Golden Dawn has achieved 7% of the vote in the general elections in May and June. This is despite their violent terror tactics: attacking left-wing MPs on television and attacking left-wing campaign stalls; hospitalising and murdering immigrants in pogroms while the police stand by. In France, for the first time in 24 years, the far-right Front National won two seats in June's elections to the national assembly, with 13.6% of the vote. In Hungary the right wing government allows the "Garda" bands of neo-fascist Jobbik to rampage the streets terrorising people and driving Jews out of villages. Of course, in Britain the development of the far-right has not reached such proportions. The British National Party (BNP) made some electoral inroads up to 2010 but since then has lost those positions, having been riven with internal strife and successfully opposed in local communities. But we think there is a need for an honest and democratic debate in the trade unions and anti-racist movement about the ideas and methods necessary, not just to defeat them one protest at a time, but to defeat them long term.