Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

SWP and others call for relaunch of the Anti Nazi League (ANL).

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Is the Past Another Country?

In Socialist Worker this week,

Labour’s John McDonnell’s recent call for a movement “emulating the work of Anti Nazi League” was incredibly important. Paul Holborow, who co-founded the organisation, looks at its history and its legacy.

How the Anti Nazi League beat back the fascists

We learnt from the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who argued for the need to build a united front against fascism.

Today, Stand Up To Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism are active and provide focuses for opposition to the far right.

The founding members of the ANL are all supporters of these organisations, which stand in its tradition.

But with the scale of the challenge we now face, we need to broaden and deepen those three organisations.

Anything that John McDonnell can do to assist us in this process of extending unity is hugely welcome.

We need to get together and create a genuine mass movement that takes on one of most serious challenges of fascism since the 1930s.

In the Guardian today,

All of us who are committed to a tolerant, multiracial and multicultural society face a growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK, encouraged by Donald Trump and his close associate Steve Bannon and now boosted by the release from jail of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The storming of the socialist bookshop Bookmarks (Report, 6 August) and the disturbingly large mobilisations on the streets of London, Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere underline the scale of the threat.

Boris Johnson’s recent remarks are a calculated bid to appeal to the same audience and can only give them further confidence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s recent call for an Anti-Nazi League-type cultural and political campaign is therefore very welcome and timely. We need a broader-based, imaginative and vibrant campaign that unequivocally opposes all forms of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

As founder members over 40 years ago of the original Anti-Nazi League (ANL) and its sister organisation Rock Against Racism, we think that Stand up to Racism, Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism have been established firmly within this tradition, and indeed these organisations have already provided essential and much-needed rallying points of opposition to the rising far right.

This is a process that, as John argues, now urgently needs to be deepened and extended, uniting all people and organisations of goodwill against the huge challenges we face over the next few years from the far right and fascists.

This will involve applying the ANL’s tactics of mass propaganda, unrelenting opposition to the racists and fascists wherever they organise, and the cultural appeal that ANL/RAR pioneered, with large-scale music and similar events asserting the values of our multiracial and diverse society.

We believe this needs to done with the utmost speed. Tommy Robinson and his international backers are likely to be preparing further national and international events in the autumn, seeking to build support and influence. Developments in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy highlight how urgent this is. Echoes of the 1930s are all too real.

Whatever our other political differences, we believe the time to come together against the poison of racism and fascism is now.

Peter Hain House of Lords; founder member, Anti-Nazi League 
Paul Holborow Founder member and national secretary, Anti-Nazi League 
Red Saunders Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Roger Huddle Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Jerry Dammers Musician, The Specials, 2 Tone, Rock Against Racism 
Carol Grimes Musican, Rock Against Racism 
Tom Robinson Musician, Rock against Racism 
Mykaell Riley Musician, Bass Culture, Steel Pulse, Rock Against Racism

Divisively  there is no mention of the effect that Brexit has had in encouraging the “growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK.”

This is despite the fact that the movement behind Tommy Robinson and the “storming” of Bookmarks were created and led by groups and individuals linked to UKIP and the Brexit Right, not to mention that Bannon and Trump’s backing for Brexit is a pillar of their politics.

There is nothing about  Hope not Hate in the list of organisations to learn from.

It is equally hard to see that unity on anti-semitism is easy to achieve.

Counterfire, a faction which left the SWP and which plays an important role in such bodies as the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly, is at present engaged in a campaign to “defend Jeremy Corbyn” against charges of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Whatever the merits of this initiative they, supporters of a non-existent ‘People’s Brexit’, link it to this claim:

The right will also increasingly seek to couple this campaign around antisemitism with pressure to modify the party’s stance on Brexit in favour of keeping Britain in the Single Market or even calling for a second referendum on Brexit. In this, the right has the support of the British establishment and much of the media.

Corbyn is right – the left needs to fight back against the slander of antisemitism

There are other, substantial, reasons why unity with the SWP looks unlikely.

Background to Stand up to Racism, (October. 2016)

Stand Up To Racism: Stand Up To Rape Culture

We, the undersigned, want all planned speakers and delegates to withdraw their attendance from Stand Up to Racism’s conference on 8 October. We ask because the speakers will share the bill with Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism’s co-convenor and a central committee member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

This must include refusing to lend any support to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) either directly, or indirectly through its front organisations including “Unite Against Fascism”“Unite the Resistance”“Stand up to UKIP” and “Stand Up To Racism”.

We call on people to do this because the SWP’s well documented failing of two women members who accused the then central committee member of the SWP, known as “Comrade Delta”, of rape and sexually assault. The complainants were asked classic victim-blaming questions about their behaviour and drinking habits. Some members of the SWP leadership denounced the complaints as motivated by a “dangerous feminism”. SWP members who in 2012-2013 challenged the central committee’s kangaroo courts were expelled from the party – many more left in disgust.

This is not about bad individuals. The SWP as a whole is an acute example of collective disregard for sexual violence. Their culture and leadership continues to put its own internal interests above tackling rape and supporting complainants within its ranks. Sexual assault and harassment are not unique to the SWP, or to left-wing organisations, but the SWP’s unwillingness to address its failings show it should not to be worked with.

The racialised violence that has followed the Brexit vote demands a strong anti-racist movement; this movement must be principled and intersectional. This means recognising what Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black Feminists have shown, that sexism and racism do not operate in silos rather oppressions often overlap and intersect. We cannot build an anti-racist movement organised by rape apologists and anti-feminists. We must end the bankrupt politics of the past, not rehabilitate some of the worst proponents.

It is vital for women and non-binary people – particularly people of colour who wish to resist the racism they experience – to be able to organise politically without groups that facilitate or cover up sexual assault. The SWP and the campaigns they lead are demonstrably not capable of offering this.

AFem Conference organising committee
Bis Of Colour
Black Lives Matter UK 
Brighton Solidarity Federation
East End Sisters Uncut
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth
London Campaign Against Police & State Violence
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
Southall Black Sisters
Southwark Notes
The Free University of Sheffield

Amendment:

After sending our letter to those billed to speak at the conference, at least one high profile speaker dropped out. We were also assured by a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s media team that Corbyn had agreed not to attend. However, on 8th October it was widely documented that Jeremy Corbyn went to the conference. We suspect that we were deliberately misled to stop us from going public with our concerns about Corbyn’s association with the SWP.

Some signatories have publicly defended Corbyn’s politics in the past. However we are all agreed that any platform for the SWP is counter-productive for grassroots community and labour organising. This is because of its leadership’s abuse and gaslighting towards women inside and outside the organisation. Stand Up To Racism cannot be an effective anti-racist movement if it actively condones misogyny by having rape apologists in its leadership and paid staff.

The Guardian reported in 2016.

Weyman Bennett, one of two co-conveners of Stand Up to Racism, with whom Corbyn shared a platform at Saturday’s event, is a longstanding member of the SWP, and a recent entry on the SWP’s website listed details of SUTR planning meetings and called on members to attend the rally.

“Comrades in every local Stand Up to Racism group should be fighting down to the wire to build the biggest possible event,” it says. Many mainstream political figures also serve on the SUTR steering committee, including Abbott, its president, and Labour MP Kate Osamor, one of five vice-chairs.

Corbyn is also set to face questions over his attendance at the rally and its links to the SWP from his own MPs on Monday night, according to a report in LabourList. Several speakers, including the Guardian columnist Owen Jones, pulled out of the event after learning of activists’ concerns about the link to the SWP.

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

4 Responses

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  1. Peter Hain sends tweet to these: @AntiRacismDay⁩ ⁦@uaf⁩ ⁦@UAFWales⁩ ⁦@hopenothate⁩ ⁦@BoardofDeputies⁩ ⁦@marievanderzyl⁩ ⁦⁦@rosaltmann⁩ ⁦@lisanandy⁩ ⁦@NazShahBfd⁩

    Andrew Coates

    August 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm

  2. As we all wonder what Komarde Koates REAL agenda is.

    Unite Against Bullshit

    August 16, 2018 at 4:48 pm

  3. Do you mean (ANL) not (AWL) in the title?

    Boleyn Ali

    August 17, 2018 at 1:56 pm


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