This is a guest post by Mikey
We have rightly had some criticism of certain posts by Socialist Unity here at Harry’s Place, but we should give Andy Newman, who runs that site, some credit where it is due. He has brought to our attention the case of a counter demonstration against a BNP fund-raising event in Leigh. Newman argues that the actions of some people on that counter demonstration and the way that the organisers of the anti-BNP rally have reported on the event were a serious mistake.
Andy quotes a report from one of the organisers of the anti-BNP rally of what occurred:
“Master Race, your [sic] having a laugh!” was just one of the many chants that taunted BNP Boot Boys, previously wielding crowbars, truncheons and baseball bats in Leigh town centre, as they were forced, under Police protection, to tow away their wrecked Landrover, which was literally ‘hammered’ by a larger force of similarly tooled-up anti-fascists from the AFA….
It would appear that as well as smashing up a Landrover, the anti-fascists were responsible for quite a serious injury to BNP member Tony Ward. I concur with Andy Newman who argued:
Now I am sure that Mr Ward is no angel, and I have little or no personal sympathy for him. But the BNP are now able to use the attack upon him to make themselves seem respectable, and make the anti-BNP campaigners look undemocratic…. How effective is our message that the BNP are tainted with connection with hooligans, when the anti-fascists attack the BNP with hammers? There is no substitute to defeating the BNP politically, and the last thing the left needs is this sort of macho self-indulgence.
Do not get me wrong, I am not in the extreme opposed to physical attacks upon fascists and in that extreme I would be willing to join in, but that extreme would be if the fascists got in power and used that power to make the country undemocratic and the fascist government turned against the people.
But we in the United Kingdom are not living in Nazi Germany in 1933 or indeed under any other fascist or totalitarian murderous regime, but in a democratic country that has a police force that exist to keep the peace.
As a democracy, we have the right to demonstrate and we also have the right to counter-demonstrate. The chant of “Master Race, you’re having a laugh!” used by the anti-fascist demonstrators was inspired and will be appreciated by football fans. But David T, of this blog, gets it right in the comments section:
How could you turn up with a claw hammer to a counter demo, and not be looking for a fight?
We shouldn’t be providing the BNP with martyrs.
There are many people who are opposed to the BNP in the UK and there are many who will voluntarily turn up to demonstrate against fascism, but what kind of message does this behaviour of the small segment of anti-fascists give to the law-abiding citizen who is opposed to the BNP and is wondering as to whether to turn up to demonstrate against the BNP? The likely result is that many anti-fascists who would be prepared to demonstrate against the BNP may well stay at home when there is a further anti-fascist demonstration and that is a great shame for democracy.