The Scottish Defence League (SDL) had planned to stage a city-centre rally in Glasgow on 14 November. In the event, they spent most of their time sitting in a pub, reliant on the protection of a couple of hundred police officers.
“Scotland United” (SU) — launched in October to meet the SDL threat — staged a rally followed by a demonstration through the city centre on the day. It staged the rally and demonstration as an alternative to mobilising to confront the SDL.
An alternative group, “Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance” (GAFA), was also set up because activists were concerned that any SDL activity carried with it the threat of physical attack — or, at the very least, intimidation and threats — directed at members of ethnic minorities. Not confronting the SDL would only embolden them and give them the confidence to stage further protests, which, again, could easily flow over into racist attacks.
GAFA mobilised to do this.
Around 300 people had turned up at the GAFA assembly point on 14 November. An SWP/UAF contingent was present, but not in any great numbers. The police were out in force at Cambridge Street, where the SDL were. After a few minutes of facing up to the police lines, the GAFA contingent marched back through the city centre to join up with the SU event. With the benefit of hindsight, the GAFA contingent should have stayed put.
In the event there were fewer than a hundred of SDL.
After staging a tiny demonstration ,they turned around and marched back to the pub, where they were put on buses by the police and driven away.
GAFA supporters wanted to return to where the SDL were but SWP/UAF organisers told people to stay put in Glasgow Green (on the SU protest) and not to head off to Cambridge Street. The bloc which did leave Glasgow Green was devoid of the SWP/UAF.
There were about 2,000 on the SU demonstration. But by this time the SDLers were already on their way home.
The SDL suffered a real setback. Only around a hundred of them turned up and they had to rely on police protection.
Again these events emphasise the huge gap between those intent on confronting the SDL and the “official” labour movement. There was not even a single trade union banner nor any kind of organised turnout from the unions on the GAFA mobilisation.
• Full report and analysis: www.workersliberty.org/node/13355