Last November, a group of racist thugs belonging to the English Defence League attempted to attack the North West regional HQ of the trade union Unite.
This group of fascist thugs chanted ‘union scum off our streets’ but were sent packing when a group of 20 Unite and PCS members blocked the door.
The next day the EDL leadership urged its members to break up the Occupy camp at St Paul’s.
This was followed by a series of attacks on anti-racist meetings up and down the country. Several leading members of the EDL now find themselves in prison as a result of these attacks.
If it ever existed, the EDLls mask of respectability was laid bare. An organisation that when it was launched claimed that it only opposed ‘militant Islam’ now saw trade unionists, anti capitalist protesters and anti racists as the enemy.
Just as many in the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement had predicted, the EDL was mirroring the tactics of previous Nazi and Fascist organisations.
The Unite Against Fascism conference takes place at a critical moment The economic crisis stalking the globe is boosting racism and fascist groups across Europe.
They have been aided and abetted by some of Europe’s leaders such as David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy who have been more than happy to play the race card over multiculturalism and attack Muslims.
Last year saw the murderous rampage of Anders Breivik who has confessed to the killing of 77 members of the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth wing, the AUF.
Over the last few years the BNP has been pushed out of office by mass campaigns of anti-fascists and trade unions. Nick Griffin may be down but the BNP is not out, it is desperately trying to regroup before the May elections.
The recently launched British Freedom, an organisation supported by members of the BNP, EDL and parts of UKIP may fill the vacum left by the decline of the BNP.
UAF conference: The Unite Against Fascism 2012 conference on 25 February is a chance for anti-fascists and anti-racists to plan their campaign for the coming year.
Trade unionists have always played a central role in the fight against fascism, all the warning signs are there and now they are going to have to do it again.
* Martin Smith is a national officer for Unite Against Fascism
Details of the conference:
Saturday 25 February
10am to 4.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. The nearest tube is Holborn. You can register online or by post (£12 waged, £6 unwaged, cheques payable to Unite Against Fascism) to Conference 2012, Unite Against Fascism, PO Box 68229, London SW1P 9WZ
Speakers include Billy Hayes (CWU gen secretary), Kevin Courtney (NUT deputy gen secretary), Farooq Murad (MCB Secretary General); Edie Friedman JCORE Executive Director; Leroy Rosenior and Paul Mortimer Show Racism the Red Card Ambassadors, Martin Smith (UAF), Richard Stone from the Lawrence enquiryand Sabby Dahlu (UAF joint secretary) .
Debates include: Strategies to defeat the EDL demos or bans? A special panel on Eastern Europe; The new fascist threats of the British Freedom Party and the impact of fascism in Europe. The conference will also elect the. leadership of UAF.