How do we fight the Right? Labour and the unions must mobilise

On 9 June 2018 several thousand supporters of the far-right figure Tommy Robinson marched in London. They dwarfed the counter-protest that had been called against them. For a full analysis of that event see here.

On 14 July 2018 another far-right demonstration is being planned. This time we must be prepared to fight back properly. In East London, two members of the Queen Mary Marxist society recently attended a meeting that had been called to help organise against the far-right on 14 July. Below is a rough transcript of their contribution to the meeting, setting out how Marxists think we should fight the Right.

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I’m here with my friend and we’re representing Queen Mary Marxist Society and we’re also members of the Labour Party.

This is a very important meeting on a very important subject.

The fact that thousands of Tommy Robinson supporters were recently allowed to march unimpeded was a disgrace and a failure of the Labour movement.

The people that did march on the counter-demonstration were put at a serious risk by the lack of mobilisation, and that can’t happen again.

I think that it’s the duty of the Labour Party and the trade unions to mobilise their members to oppose these people. The 10,000 that came out defending Tommy Robinson is a miniscule figure compared to the hundreds of thousands that came out in support of Jeremy Corbyn and on the anti-austerity demos we’ve had in the past few years.

We should be calling on these organisations to use the tools at their disposal to fight these people, and that’s what we can do to build for the counter-demonstration on 14 July.

If we look back at the history of these movements, and even the history of East London itself, when the BNP won their first council seat in Millwall in 1993, how is it that they were smashed the next year? It was through mass working-class community activism and mobilisation, petitions, pickets, marches, leafleting, trade union meetings etc. And the Labour Party played an important role in that struggle.

The Labour Party, with Corbyn at its head, is more radical than it was then, and it is now the biggest political party in Europe. It can play a crucial role in fighting this Tommy Robinson group. It needs to make the argument that immigrants and Muslims are not the cause of our problems – it’s the Tories and the super-rich whose interests they represent who are our real enemy.

Capitalist crisis and Tory austerity is what is putting us out of work, cutting the NHS, fuelling the housing crisis, and making our lives a misery. It’s not immigrants but the Tories and capitalism that we need to fight.

I’d also like to mention a few things on the topic of fascism. There is a lot of understandable concern and alarm at the growth of this Tommy Robinson supporters group, and a lot of people are throwing around the term fascism.

I don’t think we should use such a term lightly though, because organised fascism would mean a life or death struggle for the working class, and we’re not quite at that stage here in Britain.

This Tommy Robinson group does not have a mass base, it does not have a unified political programme, and it’s actually quite splintered and there’s a lot of infighting.

This group is clearly not supported by big business or the establishment, like the classical fascism of the past was, and they don’t really have a political programme of physically destroying the trade unions, the Labour Party, and the other organisations of the working class. They have not come into direct conflict with the worker’s movement.

I’m sure there are a few genuine fascists within their ranks but this isn’t a blackshirt, card carrying, subs paying fascist movement.

But of course, with that said, we cannot underestimate them, the very real threat they pose as a far-right group, or what they can do. Mass working-class action through the Labour Party and the trade unions, with a socialist political programme, is how we defeat them.

by Nigel Warren, Queen Mary Marxists