The left and self-defence

Submitted by AWL on 18 December, 2019 - 12:15 Author: Becky Crocker
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On 3 December, walking through Trafalgar Square on my way home from the anti-Trump demonstration, I noticed an SWP stall that had been turned upside down.

Skinheads, police, and SWP members were nearby. The SWP were asking the police. “Aren’t you going to do anything, he just knocked over our stall?” The police looked unsure of what to do.

Three people were jeering and doing Nazi salutes at the SWP. One got close enough to an SWP member and appeared to hit him and kick him to the ground. The police still looked unsure whether to intervene.

Although maybe 50+ years old and a little inebriated, the skinheads looked quite strong. It didn’t look like the police would have found it easy to arrest them.

I felt a sense of solidarity with the SWP members involved. Any left wing activist could be on the receiving end next time. I tried to talk with the SWPers about how serious it is that the right wing are bold enough to attack us in full view of the police.

The SWPers said: “Well, the police aren’t there to protect us anyway”.

That’s true. The police are an arm of the capitalist state. But that’s not a reason to shrug off the problem. If we know that we can’t rely on the police to protect us from a newly emboldened right wing, we need to ask who can we rely on.

Currently, the left and workers’ movement is not organised to defend its activity from fascists. We urgently need to develop a strategy for self-defence.

Comments

Submitted by John Bryn Jones (not verified) on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:10

During the last big anti-Brexit demo. in London with hundreds of thousands on the streets, a union-jack waving Brexiteer with a motley group of supporters stood outside the pub. close to Trafalgar Square (Londoners will know which one). He was clearly baiting the numbers of protesters returning from Parliament Square (and those still on their way!) One or two individuals approached them--one elderly man, one woman and tried to talk to them. Several police offers looked on including police liaison officers. An (apparently) serving soldier approached them but was ushered away by the police with his riposte to the Brexiteers "You don't represent me!" Of the hundreds that past me in the time I watched this provocation, hardly any raised their heads--prefering (assumedly) to ignore this potentially political confrontation. If I had had a couple of miners or anti-poll tax protesters with me I would have made some sort of physical intervention. I certainly cannot trust the police, having been arrested only 17 months ago for handing out leaflets critical of Univesal Credit near where I live while some comrades looked on! For a while I contented myself with another onlooker in observing what was going on and then left. Social Democrats should be our allies and not prefer to walk by on the other side when feeling the heat of real political debate!

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