Antifascism in the UK: Highlights of 2014
This past year has been a busy one for antifascists in the UK, seeing many successful counter-mobilisations against the far-right, resulting in swathe of victories for antifascists. The year began with a bang when Hungarian fascist party Jobbik attempted to hold a meeting in London in January. Kicking off the year, literally, with direct physical confrontation, multiple tube stations were blockaded whilst militant antifascists chased them around London. Well-aimed boots drove these fascists to retreat and cower in fear in an Indian restaurant, making them think twice about meeting in London again.
At the beginning of February the EDL attempted to march through the diverse town of Slough. An impressive mobilisation of several hundred antifascists and locals easily outnumbered the EDL, blocking the high street in several places, forcing the local plod to clear the street violently with baton and horse charges. The ensuing scenes recalled to some the London riots of 2011, in the level of physical confrontation with the police. Considering the chaos, antifascist arrests were minimal and two pigs were injured whilst trying to defend the fascists. This was a very successful day for antifascists as the EDL march was outnumbered and disrupted all the way along it’s route.
The following month saw a number of antifascist demos opposing the likes of the English Volunteer Force in London, the EDL in Sunderland and the National Front in Swansea at the beginning of April. The spring also brought the annual cock-parade that is the March for England. Countered with increasing success as the years go by, the fascists didn’t stand much of a chance in Brighton and they knew it. Facilitated by Sussex pigs, their march consisted of 70-100 drunken, soggy patriots walking 200 yards along the seafront in the rain, surrounded by jeering locals. Militant antifascists patrolled the streets, putting several smaller groups of fascists to flight – most notably the Casuals pathetic attempt at black bloc. The day ended with antifascists erecting some impressive barricades as the plod corralled fascists back to the station. Despite policing being far heavier-handed than in previous years, antifascists still took home a victory, leading to the announcement that this year MfE are not coming back, to Brighton at least.
By mid-June the South East Alliance, led by Paul “Please don’t hurt me” Pitt, concluded that Brighton was not winnable territory and began to focus on Cricklewood, North London, having erroneously decided that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood had their headquarters there. During the first episode of the long-running Cricklewood saga, militant antifascists completely blocked the road that the fascists intended to march down, leading to minor scuffles with police – who eventually gave up and marched them back to the station, their protest incomplete and disrupted. June also saw a series of other counter-mobilisations, including the EDL in Middleborough and Stevenage, as well as a confrontation with a Polish fascist group in Tottenham. “Immigrants United”, a Polish ex-pat Neo-Nazi group, attacked a small gig organised by the local council in a park in Tottenham. They threw bricks and flares, and stabbed one man, who later recovered from his injuries. In response, Polish antifascists Dywizjon 161 held a 300-strong demo in the same park. None of the fascists were courageous enough to stick their head above the parapet and face militant antifascists.
In July antifascists gathered in London to commemorate the International Brigades, followed later that month a demo against the NF in Oxford and, you guessed it… another Cricklewood! The return of the SEA to North London was less than majestic, greeted with the chant “more flags than fascists”. The seven compatriots were drowned out by several hundred militant antifascists and locals, including the newly-formed North West London United. The high street was once again blocked, and the fascist’s march impeded – the humiliatingly small group left, deflated and embarrassed.
As August rolled around the EDL continued their marching season, with antifascists opposing them at different ends of the country in both Batley and Bournemouth. Attempting to shake off the embarrassment of the previous episode, the SEA tried to march through Cricklewood again at the end of the month – clearly having guilt-tripped more people into coming out to this one. Police violence noticeably increased, with the pigs clearly being fed up of repeated antifascist victories. Despite this the coalition of antifascist and local groups still scored a win, far outnumbering the pitiful SEA and blocking them from their target, time and time again. In September antifascists around the world remembered Pavlos “Killah P” Fyssas, a Greek rapper murdered by Golden Dawn fascists in Athens. Impressive gatherings throughout Europe testify to the extent of strength and solidarity possessed by the antifascist movement. October saw counter-mobilisations in Birmingham, Portsmouth and Cardiff.
The first half of November saw Britain First try to march through Rochester, twice. Both times militant antifascists and locals far outnumbered BF and blocked their march route, leading to scuffles with both them and the police. After managing to alienate the town by shouting racist slurs and threatening to hang people, their candidate Jayda Fransen achieved a less than impressive 56 votes in the local election. The year rounded up with a soggy EDL march in Luton, drawing only 300 despite it being their hometown, as well as a Golden Dawn support demo in London, ending with antifascists chasing the Neo-Nazis into a pub, where they had to barricade the door and ring the police.
Despite a small fascist resurgence around the Rotherham abuse scandal, 2014 has been a successful year for antifascists – claiming a number of victories and putting fascists in their place with mass direct action and physical resistance.
2015 looks set to be a busy year for antifascists, with several demos already called for the beginning of the year. The list of upcoming far-right demos looks something like this:
JAN 25 – Support the Dover Truckers (note: this is billed as a cross-border protest, Dover and Calais)
JAN 31 – North East Infidels in Concord, Washington.
FEB 7 – EDL National demo in Dudley
FEB 14 – North West Infidels in Oldham
FEB 21 – United British Patriots, Bristol.
MAR 7 – EDL National demo in Manchester.
MAR 21 – White Man March, Newcastle.
See you on the streets, No Pasaran!