Campaign Against Fees & Cuts Cymru
The National Front, an unapolagetically neo-Nazi organisation, has announced it will carry out a “White Pride World Wide” event in Swansea on March 9th 2013. Workers and students from all walks of life have rapidly flocked to organise a counter-demonstration actively resisting the National Front, under the broad banner of Wales Antifa. It is likely this counter-demo will take place starting in Castle Square, Swansea at 11am but details will be updated as new facts emerge.
The National Front have no “right” to march. Violence against the working class and the marginalised is intrinsic to fascism and the assembly of a fascist gang is a fundamentally violent act. Nor is the issue one of “free speech” – what about the right of the members of Swansea’s community to go about their day free from intimidation and ethnic slurs? The working class has a duty to defend itself from these violent invaders and while we will not throw the first punch, we have no intention of being passive.
The Welsh working class can be proud of its recent history of combatting fascism. In 2009-2010, when the English Defence League was at its height, they attempted five demonstrations in Wales despite never having more than a handful of members living in the country. Each of the demonstrations was a resounding failure for the EDL, who have since given up on the country. The BNP meanwhile last made themselves known in May 2011 with an attempt to give Nick Griffin a photo opportunity at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff; a spontaneous counterdemonstration led to the BNP’s “Truth Truck” being pelted with vegetables and chased back to the M4 motorway by anti-fascists on bicycles.
Nonetheless poverty and high and long-term unemployment, both direct results of Thatcherite and New Labour attacks on the public sector and of the ongoing financial crisis, mean Wales continues to present a tempting target for the extreme right. Meanwhile while neo-fascist activity rightly focuses the attention of the organised working class, Parliament continues to deliberately drive racism and anti-immigrant paranoia while using methods and approaches increasingly reminiscent of fascism in both the management of the economy and the state – not least calculatedly marginalising women, the disabled and migrants and singling out ethnic minorities and the devolved nations for funding cuts.
A united and positive response led by the working class is necessary. Activists in Swansea are already approaching trade unions, students’ unions and community groups to build for the counter-demonstration, the message of which will not be simplistically anti-racist but making a positive call for jobs, homes and public services. It does no good to try to convince someone to oppose fascists offering false solutions to the problems of the economy by making them listen to a speaker personally responsible for some of those problems.
The intervention from outside by Unite Against Fascism already underway therefore needs to be respectful of the local community and its needs. Already many local organisers have been excluded or censored for attempting to contribute democratically to discussion on the shape of Swansea’s response. This silencing needs to stop or UAF will alienate the local working class, as it did when it split anti-fascist demonstrations in Newport in 2009 and Cardiff in 2010. Additional forces to the fight against fascism are always welcome, but if the “official” UAF rally is miles from the National Front it will be distracting from, not contributing to, the fight.
Swansea is a port city with a centuries-long history of diversity and openness. I am confident we will send the National Front packing. Over the next two weeks we will build for a big, political and resolute response. We invite all allies to join us and to chase the neo-fascist National Front out of Wales, out of Britain, and into the cold winter of political irrelevance.