By Cameron Ball
After the effective collapse of the BNP in 2015 many political commentators and politicians themselves believed that right wing populism was dead in Britain. But, as always, the dark shadow of fascism didn’t take long to return. The people of working-class Britain didn’t ever believe fascism was gone, racist graffiti and scrawls were still seen in the local boozer, and racial profiling continued to plague the streets. The Far-right recruiters still worked their trade on the football terraces, on the streets, and in the pub. It has been left to groups such as the Anti-fascist Network to oppose these groups and counteract them on the streets.
Of course, Fascism has returned in a different form from its last incarnation of the BNP and the EDL. It has gone mainstream. With the DFLA (Democratic Football Lads Alliance) and #FreeTommy marches managing to gather over 10,000 people in London, and UKIP, a party with over 23,000 members and 600,000 votes, recruiting the verminous Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – more widely known as Tommy Robinson – as their new “Special Political Advisor”, we know that fascism is alive and kicking both at the ballot box and on the streets.
Its naïve to think that we can really achieve any form of socialist society while fascism still is tolerated in Britain, that is why this fight is more important than ever. With over 80,000 hate crimes committed last year, its time for all Labour members and Anti-fascists across Britain to come together to fight them to improve our communities and make them safer for everyone. With groups like National Action still active in underground cells, alongside online fascist groups like the Sonnenkrieg Division it is important to have a united front to smash fascism in all of its forms.
Efforts have been made to revive anti-fascism across Britain, with new groups like the Football Lads & Lasses Against Fascism doing incredible outreach work in communities and terraces across the UK, as well as standing shoulder to shoulder with militant anti-fascists on the streets. Community groups such as the Fan owned Clapton Community Football Club which shot to fame with their International Brigade inspired Away shirts are just as important to winning the argument that anti-fascism shouldn’t be seen as something of the fringes of politics, only practised by small anarchist groups dressed head to toe in Black. It should be seen as the default position for everyone across the globe.
The response of some left-wing groups to the EU Referendum has not helped this situation. As a proud socialist and anti-fascist, I have been appalled to see accusations of racism and support of far-right groups thrown at individuals in person and online regularly in reaction to anybody who voted leave. This cannot be acceptable, by labeling every leaver as racist, were making the far right stronger and driving voters away – rather than building an anti-racist coalition. Nor does this make sense given stalwarts of the left like Tony Benn and Eric Heffer were opposed to the Common Market. Further, many working-class leave voters have legitimate concerns that we must address, including around globalisation and the technocratic inclination of Brussels. We must listen and win the argument. That isn’t done by tarring the 52% as a bunch of racists.
So, where does the Labour Party fit into this, as the largest Political party in Britain, and one of the biggest in Europe? For most of its existence the Labour Party has been proudly antifascist, with members fighting Franco’s Army in Spain, Mosley’s Thugs in East London, and the National Front in the 70’s and 80’s. We have a duty as Labour members, and as people, to join in the fight against fascism. We must defeat it in the streets and at the ballot and build a society where we no longer tolerate the existence of fascism. Contact local Labour members and organise in your community with a group like FLAF to flyer local Football Games, go out and cover up racist, sexist, and homophobic Graffiti, and find some friends and come and join demonstrations and counter protests, like the one happening this Sunday in London to Oppose Tommy Robinson and his group of muppet mates.