Racist thugs “organised” a demo in Glasgow today. They were crap. Antifascists were awesome. Police put SDL on minibuses and sent them out of the city centre early afternoon as otherwise we would have eaten them up.
Today was the day of the much hyped SDL throw^H^H^H^H^Hcomeback. The interwebs were buzzing about how they were going to give us a doing – there was little pretence that this had anything to do with “Muslamists” but was instead about getting some revenge on those of us who have opposed them every time they’ve tried to gain some traction in Scotland. The North West Infidels (NWI/NEI – you can figure the “E” out for yourselves) who had been involved in the attacks last Saturday in Liverpool were to beef up numbers.
Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance (GAFA) coordinated a militant response. UAF called a demo in town too, and some UAF stayed around after their demo to join the rest of the antifascist action.
Spotters were out from early morning, both ours and theirs. Word started coming in of large numbers of police and some fash in St Enoch Square, so the majority of the antifa gathered there too. Others remained at the tardis (“police box”) on Buchanan St which the GAFA callout had been to assemble at. This was chosen as it is about 20 metres from the Palestine stall which the SDL like to attack – because obviously a group of human rights campaigners raising money for nursing students on a different continent is a threat to UK traditions or something…
We started to see increasing numbers of small groups of 4-10 fascists walking up and down Buchanan St. One of my favourite memories of the day was when the Palestine stall felt a bit too exposed as the circling sharks began increasing, and texted to St Enoch that we could do with a few more antifa around. Within a few minutes a beautiful site appeared as 50-70 antifascists confidently and loudly marched up Buchanan St, masked up, black flags waving. The streets were ours to demonstrate on today, and the fascists were reduced to scurrying around.
By about 1pm large police numbers cleared St Enoch Square and laid out a cordoned off avenue for the SDL to get in from Annie Millers (a unionist pub) and from the bus that pulled up. While good numbers of antifascists stayed at the tardis and kept a protective eye on the Palestine stall, the huge majority – perhaps 200 – attempted to get at the pathetic 60 or so of SDL/NWI/NEI who were hiding behind police lines.
As it became clearer that we vastly outnumbered them, with more of us arriving by the minute, the police ushered the SDL back onto their bus and out of our city centre.
So, what was achieved?
The SDL showed a pathetic turnout given that they’d been building for today for months. The NWI/NEI contingent were possibly otherwise distracted by terrorising Hyde, near Manchester, against the community’s wishes, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-17164387 but there were NEI and NWI flags in St Enoch Square today. They had no soundsystem or megaphone. There “demonstration” was some dozens of folk waving flags from behind police lines, out of sight of most Glasweigians in town today. They were not able to cause any damage or terrorise anyone.
As GAFA we only properly began building the counter demo a few days ago. We networked it amongst ourselves but did very little outreach. We also lacked in letting the general public know what was going on.
Despite all that we can be proud of ourselves. It would have been easy to get complacent as we have never let the SDL have an announced presence in Glasgow or Edinburgh. The left was once again unified, strong and comradely as we came together to oppose the far right. We shared information and backed each other up as individuals on the streets today.
Crucially we did not allow anybody to think that by joining with the SDL they will have a good day out! None of them will be now feeling empowered or energised, and those who dragged along their mates for the first time will find it much harder to convince them next time.
However we can do better. We need a debrief and a proper plan for next time. We need literature ready to roll. We need a decent communications network. We need to be ready to *properly* build for counter demo’s. And as the SDL will now have to retreat back into flashmobs and small word of mouth fly by attacks on the Palestine stall we need a proper strategy to sustainably defend it.
The SDL are recruiting and the far right do want to take advantage of the acute anger that high unemployment is piling onto the chronic disenchantment and alienation from capitalism. We must be more active, bringing together communities around real solutions based on equality, freedom, sustainability and true democracy. It is too easy for the SDL to demonise black and minority ethnic people as they are just joining the constant chorus coming from the media and the political classes. I would like us to be also, safely, interacting with those caught up in the SDL, being clear not just in our opposition, but also our reasons for it.