EDL splinter-gruppenführer Paul Pitt promised tens of thousands on the streets of London yesterday. Instead, a national mobilisation of the English Volunteer Force and the South East Alliance produced just 40 of the hardest core of neo-Nazis and Hitlerites from around the UK.
Even more embarrassingly, the fascists were heavily outnumbered and required police protection from the over 200 antifascist activists, trade unionists and others who had gathered to oppose them. The antifascists included local faith groups plus activists from the NUT, PCS and Croydon Trades Council, as well as others from South London.
Meanwhile, the Nazis had picked up nearly no one from South London. That is, apart from one Richard Edmonds, the leader of the National Front and a holocaust denier with a criminal conviction for a racist assualt – as well as vandalism against the Nelson Mandela statue in London. Edmonds must have felt right at home, surrounded by men throwing Hitler salutes and in the company of well-known Nazi gangsters like former-National Socialist Movement member Mark Pringle.
The Unite Against Fascism demonstration showed the way to fight the Nazis – with united community action that outnumbers the fascists and stops them from being able to march unopposed and intimidate black and Asian people or trade unionists. But we can’t be complacent – the BNP want to organise a race hate march in Croydon in September, and the EDL are planning a national demonstration in Tower Hamlets on Saturday 7th September. We need to build an anti-fascist movement across South London and beyond – rooted in the unions, the places of worship and the communities.