The unwelcome presence of Donald Trump on our shores has seen some of the biggest mobilisations on the streets of the UK for very many years. Up and down the country local people have protested in their villages, towns & cities in numbers not seen since the run up to the Iraq war.
Reel News went first to the sleepy town of Woodstock in Oxfordshire where Trump was being wined & dined in Blenheim palace with around 1,000 business leaders. Local people mobilized in vast and unexpected numbers to greet the world’s number one racist with an angry protest numbering up to 3,500, according to figures provided by the Oxford Mail. Such protests are unheard of in rural England and aptly demonstrate just how hated Trump is by pretty much everyone, even in safe conservative constituencies. Homemade placards included such deeply quaint slogans as “Lord Malborough show some taste” & “We’re not terribly impressed”. Guests arriving had to run the gauntlet of hundreds of yards of jeering protesters as they queued in their chauffeur-driven transport to stuff their faces with the absolute worst that the establishment has to offer.
The following morning Britain awoke to the welcome news that Trump was already proving to be a monumental PR disaster for his hosts, as many had predicted. During an interview with a particularly loathsome tabloid bog roll, Trump slagged London Mayor Sadiq Khan and said that Boris Johnson would be a great Prime Minister. All this at a time when the rightwing tory brexiters are intent on ousting Theresa May for none other than Bojo. Royal sycophants were also very far from impressed with his behaviour around our unelected head of state. Another pleasing side effect of the Tories and May being made to look weak and ridiculous by this idiotic spectacle is that Labour have surged ahead in the polls and look more like a government in waiting than ever before.
In London the main Trump protest drew the biggest crowd seen in the capital for very many years. Over 250,000. Not only is that more than double the number that greeted war criminal George Bush Jr back in 2003, but it is quite possibly the biggest protest ever seen in London on a week day during working hours.
Protests on the day were not limited to London. Over 10,000 gathered in Glasgow, 3-4,000 in Manchester and the same number in Sheffield, 1,500 in Leeds, 1,000 in Birmingham- and 600 in Exeter. Around 250 took part in Southampton. Unlike other pariahs visiting the UK Trump’s schedule was tightly managed to ensure that he was never in the same area as any of the protests.
Despite these precautions, Greenpeace successfully organised a pretty impressive stunt when a paraglider appeared over Trump’s golf course causing American secret service personnel to rush the President inside the building away from the protest. They should probably be grateful that the likes of al Quaida & ISIL lack the imagination of our environmentalists, otherwise a certain misogynist’s reign of stupidity could have come to an abrupt end. Local protesters also managed to get within shouting distance of Trump, who in a final act of ineptitude mistook them for supporters and waved.
One thoroughly unwelcome side effect of Trump’s visit was a predictable gathering in support of his racism by the far right. On July the 14th the ‘Welcome Trump – Free Tommy’ protest, organised by fascists and attended by mainly white middle aged football hooligans, drew several thousand racists into Whitechapel for a rally.
Their numbers were considerably down from the previous ‘Free Tommy’ protest in support of fascist goblin Stephen Yaxley-Lennon who is presently residing in prison after one of his trademark attention-seeking stunts massively backfired on him.
By comparison the numbers of the antifascists were considerably up on the previous occasion, swelled by the welcome addition of the Anti Fascist Network and various trade unionists joining SUTR & UAF who had previously seen their protest dwarfed by the mobilisation of racists. Although still outnumbered, people now seem to be taking the fascist threat seriously and are growing in determination to do something about it.
As usual the police made it very clear which side they were on. Anti fascists experienced the usual zero tolerance to their protest, which we’ve come to expect from the MET. Meanwhile groups of Tommy supporters with their reputation for drunkenness and violence were allowed a free reign to have a go at the opposition. At one point Reel News witnessed one racist attack anti fascists with a weapon. He was promptly nicked, handcuffed and then released two minutes later without any explanation or attempt at restricting his movements. Would the same have happened to one of our lot? Of course not.
The politics of the ‘Welcome Trump – Free Tommy’ contingent were made very clear later on when they harassed a bus driver for the crime of wearing a headscarf. She responded with pure class, refusing to be intimidated and politely smiling back at the morons shouting abuse at her. Her quiet dignity and defiance in the face of booze-fuelled bigotry has become the enduring image of the day.
— Upworthy (@Upworthy) July 17, 2018
At the other end of Whitehall Tommy Robinson’s ‘free speech’ warriors showed their true colours by attacking a group of RMT members who were minding their own business outside a pub, while the police looked on. Though heavily outnumbered, the Trade Unionists gave a pretty good account of themselves and many of their attackers landed on the deck and found themselves being nicked by police reinforcements shortly afterwards. Unfortunately several RMT members (including at least two women) were injured, with Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley requiring hospital treatment after being glassed.
A group of anti fascists who were stationed nearby quickly arrived on the scene and escorted the remaining rail workers safely from the area. They also found time to spook some Tommy fans on their way home.
While the numbers hitting the streets for these fascist-organized giant piss-ups are clearly very worrying there is little evidence so far that the racists are willing to do much in the way of actual political work to forward their agenda. At the previous ‘Free Tommy’ protest on the June 9th, a call was made to the 10k + crowd to come to Lewisham that evening and help one of the speakers Anne Marie Waters campaign in a local by election. No one showed up.
A few days later Waters and her fellow activists from the rabidly Islamophobic For Britain Party discovered to their cost that no amount of drunken football hooligans meeting in central London can gain them any traction in local areas.
Waters and her supporters were humiliated as locals and anti racists blockaded a hustings where she had been invited to speak. The grim collection of ex UKIPers, former BNP thugs and alt-right weirdos who came to see her reactionary rant had a rough night finding themselves completely outnumbered by a very hostile crowd from the word go. Waters is one of the best known figures to have emerged from the far right over the last year, and the event was clearly a magnet for racists feeling emboldened by the numbers at the first ‘Free Tommy’ rally.
The police were slow to arrive and members of the nazi Generation Identity and other alt right ‘media’ found their cameras & live streams blocked by assertive stewards whenever they tried to intimidate protestors with their camera phones. Many of the potential attendees for Water’s hate speech didn’t even try to get through the crowd. Some did and gave up. While others who were assisted by the increasing numbers of cops ended up milling around in a half empty hall only to be told that the event was ending early and Waters would not be attending on police advice. They then had to leave, running the gauntlet of a jeering throng of victorious anti racists.
Representatives of different local trade unions addressed the happy masses at the end of the protest including speakers from the CWU, NUT & BFAWU. There is little doubt that the numbers were considerably swelled by local branches. Lewisham has a special place in history as a turning point in the struggle against fascism in 1977. That feeling still runs deep in the local community and trades council 41 years later. A few days later Waters got a derisory 1.2% of the vote. UKIP, the party that spawned her vile collection of racists, also pleasingly lost their deposit.
Building on this & the Trump protests several local anti fascist mobilisations occurred around the country on Saturday July 21st when several ‘Free Tommy’ protests were organised around the country. REEL NEWS attended the actions in Cambridge. Local campaigning groups linked up with Trade Union branches to organise a counter demo to a planned hate march.
The RMT responded in the best possible way to the violence of the previous weekend by organising a coach from London. Their members who were attacked 7 days earlier made defiant speeches at the rally alongside members of UNITE, the FBU and anti fascist groups. Towards the end of the rally the numbers had swollen to well over 600 when a pitiful collection of around 30 fascists showed up to do their usual performance of challenging everyone to a fight while hiding behind police lines. Some of them making nazi salutes. Had they been able to wander into the counter protest it would not have ended well for them.
The stand off continued until they retreated. Then there was a march around the town that was well received by locals, some of whom joined in to swell the numbers yet further. Returning to the original rallying point at the end, the protest was greeted by the pathetic site of a lone racist, holding a placard and shouting abuse. Not exactly a shining example of Aryan perfection. He responded to being laughed at by attempting to throw red paint over a photographer. He failed in this task, managing instead to decorate the faces of 2-3 policemen while chucking the rest over his ‘Free Tommy’ t-shirt. Unsurprisingly he was nicked and it looks like he will soon get to meet his hero.
Meanwhile, things were going very badly for the ‘master race’ in both Glasgow and Worcester.
The latter was the scene for a protest by what is left of the EDL. The 20 fascists who showed up found themselves heavily outnumbered from the word go by hundreds of locals who blocked their attempt at a march and pushed them back down the main street. At least one racist who had travelled from Stoke was injured by local youths who pretty much set the agenda from the word go. (Images)
North of the border the fascist SDL were hoping to attract football fans to their racist endeavour in Glasgow. The militant opposition they received from the Celtic Green Brigade was probably not what they had in mind. Only 50 racists showed up and they were heavily outnumbered in a police constructed cage by hundreds of anti fascists who harangued them from the word go until they were escorted from the area protected by vast numbers of riot cops. REEL NEWS has been informed that some extremely clumsy fascists fell over in different parts of the city later on. ( 1, 2, 3)
All these local victories against the far right not only boost the struggle against the politics of hate but also show how hopeless & disorganised the racists really are. Also how they struggle to achieve anything outside of the large rallies recently bankrolled by their rich foreign and domestic supporters in central London. Their base contains a range of conflicting ideas & egos. Their message is rejected by the absolute majority of working class people. The more that those opposed to this recent resurgence of fascism find common ground to fight it, the more marginalised and demoralised the racists will become. Historic victories for anti fascists like Cable Street & Lewisham 77 did not come out of the blue. They were made possible by tireless work in communities across the country campaigning at every level against our common enemy. A broad based movement is now being built to see them smashed again.