Where next for anti-fascism after Stirling?
The enemy in Glasgow last year
As one of the few SSY members who made it to today’s anti-fascist demo in Stirling I’d like to write a bit about what went wrong and where we can go from now. As you may or may not know today was a bit of a setback for the movement against fascism in Scotland. To begin with a small group of us travelled through on the train from Glasgow, being followed and asked various stupid questions by the police (such as “are you going to Stirling?”). Once there some more joined us but the overall turnout was disappointingly small (under 50 people in total) and as a result the police were easily able to put us into a kettle outside Stirling train station as a dozen or so fascists later got off the train. We were held for around half an hour as the fascists walked off towards the town centre, apparently ending up in a park where the police had allowed them to rally. After the police let us go we headed up towards the town centre discussing what to do next. Before getting anywhere close to the park we received news (from spotters I think) that the fash had been joined by a fairly large group of football casuals, some of which were said to be armed with weapons and clearly looking for a fight. With this it was decided, perhaps sensibly given the numbers, that there was little we could do in Stirling and that the safest option was for us to head back to Glasgow. We could have stayed of course and hoped that the police would have protected us from them but do we really want to be in the situation in Scotland where we must rely on the state to prevent anti-fascists from being beaten up or worse?
I absolutely don’t mean to blame any individuals for the low turnout. I understand the announcement was very last minute, many of us only heard that the SDL would be demonstrating in Stirling and not Glasgow (as was originally planned) less than 24 hours before the event. And I’m sure those who didn’t attend will have also sorts of perfectly valid reasons for this. I think our success in Glasgow and Edinburgh had perhaps helped to create a false sense of complacency that contributed to the low turnout today. But the SDL can’t and mustn’t be written off as a threat. Today will I fear have emboldened them, it will have handed them a feeling of victory which, if we had had more of us and had been better organised, would have been denied to them. Personally I don’t think the SDL have that much reason to feel joyful after today. That they felt unable to show their faces in Glasgow and ended up in a park in Stirling instead is itself a sign they are still weak. But the danger is that they will now feel far more comfortable about travelling to smaller towns all over Scotland (preferably after keeping the location a secret as long as possible), relatively secure in the knowledge that not enough of us are going to turn up to show them meaningful resistance. With a lot more of us there today we could obviously have broken through the police kettle and cut the fash off before their football thug friends were able to join them.
So what’s the solution now? As someone who hasn’t really been involved in any organisation work up to now I can’t really answer that sufficiently. But we need to obviously keep on working on intelligence and perhaps on building up a secure mailing list who we can contact if there’s any details we don’t want made available on facebook. We should also, I feel, try not to leave anti-fascist work until only when the SDL have an event planned. To keep up the momentum I think it would perhaps now be good for us to have anti-fascist meetings and discussions more often in order to stay up to date with what’s going on. Ideally we could have a fairly large network of committed anti-fascists who can be contacted quickly through various means, not just facebook. If we’re only going to find out at the last minute then we can’t rely on local anti-fascist groups to emerge and coordinate any form of action in time. As things stand most will likely have to come from Glasgow and Edinburgh where SAFA has a reasonable presence.
I’m sure other people will also have some good ideas and suggestions about where to go now. We can all agree though that fascists on the streets, in a town of any size, is not something we want to see here in Scotland. You only have to look to England and the massive threat posed by the EDL to see what happens when fascists consistently feel comfortable spreading their poison in public. It’s not too late here in Scotland and we can still defeat the scum with a bit of effort. Let Stirling be the last time they’re allowed to show their faces on our streets.
EDIT: Some of the information in this article would now appear to be inaccurate so I stand corrected. There were around equal numbers of fascists and anti-fascists present in Stirling with some of the more sensationalistic information we received being manufactured to create confusion.