EDL close down SWP meeting: rally to defend the left!

Submitted by AWL on 28 April, 2010 - 12:11 Author: Ed Whitby, Newcastle AWL

On 7 April, members of the English Defence League closed down an SWP meeting in Newcastle.

Seven SWP members were meeting in Tyneside Irish Centre to disuss the EDL. (Evidently the SWP is much diminished since its split with Counterfire - one of whose bases is Newcastle.) When ten EDL members turned up, outnumbering the SWP, the comrades felt they had to abandon the meeting.

Judging by the YouTube footage of what happened, the EDLers heckled, but did not disrupt the meeting with violence. You could make a case that the SWP should have stayed to argue with them. That is a tactical judgement it is difficult to make in hindsight and from a distance.

But there is no doubt that the EDL could start violently disrupting left-wing meetings. Socialist, labour movement and anti-racist activists need to be prepared to defend ourselves. We must offer unconditional solidarity and assistance to the SWP and anyone else who needs to defend their meetings in future. We cannot and should not rely on the police.

Naturally the union bureaucrats, liberals and even Tories who make up the SWPs allies in UAF will not be willing to mobilise the kind of physical defence that is necessary. All the more reason for the SWP to reconsider the nature of its anti-fascist activity!

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