Regular readers of this site will know of two attempts by the so-called “Scottish Defence League” to march in Glasgow in Edinburgh to demonstrate against Muslims in this country. On both occasions the SDL have been kettled, unable to march – and in Edinburgh unable to make even a token static protest. On both occasions democratic, grassroots and broad anti-fascist organisations have been formed, with SSY members working with different anti-fascist campaigners to physically stop the SDL from marching. These organisations have been responsive in nature, and have only formed in the cities where the SDL have planned to march – but it has left us with a network of anti-fascists, in Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance and Edinburgh Anti-Fascist Alliance.
This Saturday both groups will be coming together to have a national anti-fascist meeting to discuss the way forward for anti-fascists in Scotland. The SDL have been convincingly thrashed both times they have attempted to march or demonstrate but it is now clear the SDL are changing tactics and the anti-fascist alliances must respond to this. They have shut down their facebook, bebo groups etc and now are reliant on a hardcore of their members to come out and demonstrate. They have given up trying to publicly advertise their demonstrations and are now reliant on contacting those who have already been on previous demonstrations.
This in itself is a victory, as it severely stunts the possible growth of the SDL as an organisation but it also makes it harder for anti-fascists to combat them. After the Edinburgh disaster for the SDL, they announced they would be having a memorial event in Lockerbie on the 27th of March. Again this shows they have been thrown out of the cities in Scotland and marks a retreat for them. However instead of demonstrating on the 27th the SDL organised a demo last Saturday – this was entirely in secret, with no press coverage of any kind. Again, a blow considering the media coverage they obtained in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
What it does raise though is the possibility of “lightning demos” – where the SDL contact a few dozen of their trusted members to organise a brief, static demo in major cities in Scotland – possibly outside key targets for them, such as Mosques or the Parliament. The anti-fascist movement needs to be able to respond to this effectively, particularly as the conditions will be very different from in the past in terms of policing etc.
We also need to discuss how we deal with other fascist organisations, such as the National Front. Long dormant across the UK – and in particular Scotland, where they never had anything like the base they had in England – they are now planning a “Kriss Donald memorial” later this month. The NF is trying to stoke up racial tension and exploit the tragic murder of a young boy for their own fantasies of racial war.
The biggest threat we need to face is not forces on the street however – its the established party of the far-right across the UK, the BNP. The BNP took 2 MEP’s last year, alongside their dozens of councillors and GLA seat. They are trying to make the break into political respectability, and with Griffins infamous appearance on Question Time are making some inroads. While the BNP have no councillors in Scotland, and have never picked much support north of the border its clear they are now trying to break on to the Scottish political scene. In the Glasgow North East by-election they came 4th, not far off beating the Tories and holding on to their deposit.
The BNP are now talking about standing in up to 12 seats across Scotland, which would be their largest set of candidates in any General Election in Scotland. While the BNP do not have any chance of winning the seats – and are very unlikely to hold their deposit in any of these seats either – these elections will be used to boost their profile for the 2011 Holyrood Elections. The BNP will be trying to get a PR seat by winning 5-6% across a region, most likely Glasgow.
At the moment this appears unlikely, particularly as Scottish Elections don’t give the BNP media coverage on the basis of their successes down south. What their strategy most likely will be is to boost their profile in national elections across Scotland in preparation for the 2012 council elections. All the BNP need here is 16 – 20% in one council ward to take a councillor. The BNP built their base in council halls in England, its logical they would use the same tactics up here – where they do not need to win a FPTP election.
The anti-fascist movement not only needs to deal with the far-right in their political organisations but with a wider acceptance of racist views in society in general. It’s now commonplace to hear migrants being blamed for taking jobs, and attacks on Muslims as being disloyal, terrorists etc. Most of the people who make these kind of comments would never vote BNP, but they can influence the major parties through voting for them to accept these ideas.
If the organisations, and more importantly the ideas of the far-right are going to be beaten anti-fascists have to evolve a strategy beyond “Don’t vote Nazi”. We need to flesh out, and campaign as for a strategy that undercuts why people are attracted to racist parties and ideas. That means uniting working people for positive demands around housing, education, employment and wages. SSY hopes that the national anti-fascist meeting this Saturday begins that process, and helps to build a national Scottish Anti-Fascist Alliance.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
6:30pm – 9:00pm
upstairs in the Forest Cafe, 3 Bristo Place, Edinburgh