A “Free Tommy Robinson” demo in Leeds on 7 September drew only 50 people.
Tommy Robinson’s arrest last year was outside Leeds Crown Court, and since then there have been five “free Tommy” marches in the city by various combinations of ex-EDL, “Yorkshire Patriots”, “Yellow Vests”, “For Britain”.
They are always a few far-rightists filming all our left wing or anti-Brexit demos, and for a while there was a far-right demonstration of some sort or another in the city almost every weekend.
There is a loose Labour network on WhatsApp and Facebook for anti-fascist mobilisations, usually working with Stand Up to Racism or Leeds Anti Fascist Network.
On at least one occasion this year, we got a lot of Labour people to the AFN mobilisation and managed for a while to block the far right’s demo route through town.
However, not all is good.
Anti Fascist Network have frittered away the good will and enthusiasm from that success. When 5,000 people were out for the recent Stop the Coup demo in Leeds, AFN were leafleting only their mates or people dressed like them.
Labour activists, Trotskyists, others, they ignored as if we were sitting at the wrong lunch table in a ‘90s US high-school comedy.
I managed to get a copy of the leaflet. It didn’t have a mobilisation point on it because AFN didn’t want to give it away.
Stand Up to Racism had a poorly-produced leaflet, but at least with a mobilisation time and place.
Late Friday evening the AFN finally announced their rally point — the same as the SUTR one.
The anti-fascist demo was about 200 people, mainly Labour members.
Hopefully the experience will embolden Labour itself to take the lead in future mobilisations.
Luke Hardy, Leeds
I didn’t like the “Poundshop Mussolini” headline of Solidarity 515. We continuously argue against lazy comparisons, calling figures fascists when they aren’t, and against SWP-style bold headlines designed for shock effect.
Most people will just think “Mussolini” is a synonym for “fascist”, and surely we don’t think Johnson is a fascist).
The headline was sensationalist and didn’t do anything to present how what we have to say is different to the rest of the left. Seems like that week would have been the perfect time for another “Stop Brexit” headline.
Mussolini, I think, is in pretty much everyone’s minds essentially a “less bad Hitler”. I don’t see how our headline could be interpreted as anything other than us suggesting that Johnson is in some way a lesser fascist.
Alex Juson, London