Mike and Dave report from the Leeds demonstration against the English Defence League on 31 October
Even apart from the invitation of the Lib-Dem local councillor currently embattled in trying to force pay cuts on local bin workers, the speeches at the rally had problems.
Being told repeatedly that Nazis are nasty does little to educate the movement. Most demonstrators seemed to have little time for such hollow talk, and there was a clear mood to directly confront the EDL.
We were told by Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) that a march would take place to “reclaim City Square” (the EDL’s rallying point). But it depended on the police first dispersing the EDL. This “wait for the police” approach would have meant marching on an empty square, and was greeted by jeers from the rally.
Young people, and a group of young Asians, were at the forefront of pushing for a march, despite the unprecedented efforts of the police to scare students and young Asians off.
A letter had been circulated to local students warning them that they could get thrown off their courses if they got into trouble on the demonstration. The police, with the apparent support of community leaders, visited local mosques to warn against the risks of attending.
No march ever happened. After nearly four hours the demonstration had dwindled to the point where there was no one left to march.
The EDL had a rally and march in the centre of the city with hundreds looking on. They were able to propagate their nationalist, racist views from behind a police line, unchallenged.
The anger at UAF’s approach seen in Leeds should mean a serious rethink for anti-fascists.