By Sacha Ismail
How seriously does the British left take fighting fascism? Very seriously, if the energy devoted by the SWP et al to respectable liberal causes like Unite Against Fascism is anything to go by. Less seriously, if the recent National Front demo in Trafalgar Square is the standard of measure.
Several months ago, Islamist ultras al-Muhajiroun announced their intention to demonstrate in Trafalgar Square on 25 July, promising that those present would witness the miraculous conversion to Islam of gays, Hindus, Sikhs and, yes, even socialists. Shortly before the great day arrived, the National Front announced that it would be demonstrating at the same time and place - no, not to proclaim its totalitarian, anti-semitic, homophobic, anti-communist solidarity with al-Muhajiroun, but to manifest its "racialist" (that's Nazi for racist) hatred of Britain's Asian and Muslim communities.
In the event, the Islamists did not show, but the NF did, and in force; there were probably 150 of them, in addition to a similarly sized contingent from something called the United British Alliance (which claimed to be non-racist, but whose members were as all-white as the NF's). They were opposed by 100 or so mostly young Sikh men, who had turned up to oppose al-Muhajiroun and almost no one from the left. Six comrades from the AWL joined a dozen anarchists from the newly-formed Antifa (which seems to be an attempt to reincarnate Anti-Fascist Action) - and that was it.
The complete absence of an organised left presence allowed the police to target and frogmarch off those of us who had turned up (with some welcome obstruction from the Sikhs, it must be said) - and more importantly it left the fascist scum of the National Front free to demonstrate at their pleasure. Can it be that the SWP and their chums, worried that they might do something to offend al-Muhajiroun, put their fondness for Islamism above their anti-fascist principles?