The Young Communist League has released the following statement in response to today’s so called ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ demonstration.
Steven Yaxley Lennon, or Tommy Robinson as he is more commonly known, and his alliance of far right followers and football casuals, have called for a “free Tommy Robinson” demonstration today at Whitehall. Lennon is a well known racist and has longstanding links to the far right in Britain. Robinson was jailed for contempt of court during the trial of Rotherham paedophiles.
Robinson filmed himself reading out the defendants’ names and the charges they face and confronted the defendants as they arrived outside court. The EDL, which Robinsion founded back in 2009, and the far right in general are attempting to claim that he was jailed for trying to reveal abuse being carried out by Muslims. However this is untrue. Robinson was arrested and jailed for breaching the peace outside the courtroom and for potentially jeopardising a trial which had lasted months and the successful convictions of those involved.
Stand Up to Racism and a number of major affiliated trade unions have called for a counter demonstration to the rally called by far right supporters of Robinson. Whilst we offer strong support to this counter demonstration, and all those prepared to stand up to fascists on our streets, it is essential to acknowledge and emphasise two facts whilst protesting Robinson’s supporters.
Firstly, there was horrific abuse carried out across the country, particularly in Rotherham, which was perpetrated by Muslims and non-Muslims.
Secondly, it should be highlighted that Robinson is not being jailed for trying to reveal a systematic cover-up, he is being jailed because of his actions which could see paedophile groups escape justice and go free as a result. This is crucial if any counter demonstration is to achieve its purpose.
The YCL calls on the broader movement to unite and to ensure that these two facts are acknowledged at the counter demonstration. The Free Tommy Robinson demonstration cannot be countered by simply shouting “racist” or “scum” at his supporters. This will achieve little.
We must also show that there are people from across the left who are willing to take direct action to prevent racists and fascists rallying on our streets. The left is not and should not be willing to be herded and kettled by police whilst shouting scum at the far right.
It is also concerning that this demonstration has been called – and that authorities have allowed it to proceed – the same day as ‘alt-right’ pro Trump protesters are demonstrating in London in a sycophantic show of support for the unstable US president. This follows yesterday’s demonstration against Trump where over 250,000 were on the streets of London to oppose the visit of the bigoted warmonger. This could culminate in a violent mix of activity between different sections of the far right and given the violence that was seen at the last Tommy Robinson demo this is not unlikely. We as Communists must be vigilant at all times about the rise of the far right in our major cities.
The left must win the battle of ideas. Currently it is clear that the tactics and arguments which have been adopted by many antifascists are not achieving this.
No to racists and fascists on our streets!
No to racism and division! Yes to working class unity!
Young Communist League
14 July 2018