Yesterday, Sunday 5 March, marked the fourth week in a row that comrades from the YCL have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Erskine community in the fight against ‘Patriotic Alternative’; a small but persistent fascist group organising through Facebook and an on-the-ground campaign to whip up fear and hatred of asylum seekers based at the Muthu Glasgow River Hotel.
The group has been preying on years of neglect, lack of investment in public services, high rents, and low wages—in short, the symptoms of capitalism and the result of SNP-managed decline which has fuelled legitimate anger and alienation among the working class in this town.
But this anger has been channeled towards the wrong “enemies”. These asylum seekers, majority Syrian, fleeing from war, poverty, and natural disaster, have little power to either cause or resolve the issues facing Erskine residents. As always, it is instead the bosses, the landlords, and the ruling class government that bear responsibility for these attacks on our class.
Fortunately, the community remains cynical of Patriotic Alternative’s attempts to manipulate them into backing a fascist agenda, with no more than 50 people coming out at their peak, a number which included PA members bussed up from England, and curious bystanders unsure of the message itself. PA has also proved undisciplined and disorganised, with fights breaking out among themselves, and with residents of the community. PA has also attempted to leverage police sympathy by encouraging local residents to call the police on us, while at the same time claiming to be “anti-establishment”.
But this isn’t about who can mobilise a larger crowd on a Sunday afternoon, who has more Erskine residents onside, or who can shout the loudest. The neutralisation of the threat of fascism can only happen by accepting people’s anger as legitimate, pointing them towards the real enemies: bosses, landlords, and government, and empowering them to fight back.
This organising work has already begun, with antifascist groups in the community speaking with locals and distributing materials highlighting PA’s fascist activity and its members’ crimes against women and children. This is not a racist or far-right community, and this work has had a positive reception. Erskine residents have also started setting up meetings and organising groups in coordination with Paisley Trades Council and with the full support of the YCL, mapping out who the real enemies are and uniting the community around one clear message: “Erskine needs funding, not fascists!”
But this cannot be done alone. We urge all anti-racist and anti-fascist groups to turn word into deed, to be ready to put boots on the ground, knock on doors, and support the long-haul organising effort that needs a broad front to achieve. Our message is simple: get off the Internet, stick around after the cameras are gone, put the work in. We recognise this will be a long, hard campaign and will be volunteering our time and resources until the job is done.
Fascists out of Erskine! Victory to the working class!