Far right mobilisations were held in London, Bristol, Leeds, Glasgow, Newcastle, and beyond, on 13-14 June, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In London, thousands of far-right demonstrators took to the streets, ostensibly in defence of memorials and statues. Bristol saw hundreds, perhaps 500, with similar numbers in Leeds and Glasgow.
The organisers of the Black Lives Matter demonstration in London called off Saturday’s planned demonstration for this reason. London Anti-Fascist Assembly cancelled their planned counter-demonstration to this far-right threat. Many involved were hit by a wave of targeted police repression over the previous week.
Stand Up To Racism organised a small demonstration. Fascists outnumbered it ten to one, and only police protection prevented serious harm.
In Bristol, those opposing the fascists were even more outnumbered: perhaps two dozen of us. Other unrelated events that day “split the forces” of the usual “antifa” crowd. I would normally expect hundreds to outnumber a much smaller number of fascists
Leeds Black Voices Matter persevered, bringing out 7,000-10,000 people. The police kept the fascists away from the LBVM demonstration, which made no attempt at confrontation.
The far-right mobilisations all attempted violence. They have been widely seen as drunk hooligans, as racist thugs. But many of the far-right activists will feel emboldened by their perceived success in mobilising, and in “protecting monuments” — whether or not those were actually under threat.
Letting fascists embarrass themselves — via media which is fundamentally hostile to the left — is not a strategy for tackling this threat. Neither is relying on the police to protect us.
The labour movement can and must mobilise and organise tens of thousands of trade unionists to confront fascist demonstrations.