Despite Home Secretary Theresa May announcing a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest, Islington and Hackney for 30 days – the far-right English Defence League (EDL) will still be attempting to stage their biggest demonstration yet, in the centre of our capital. As anti-fascists, anti-racists, socialists and anarchists we should ensure we are there to greet them on 3rd September.
The EDL have not been banned from congregating in Tower Hamlets, and they are expected to announce where exactly they plan to do this on Wednesday (31st). Theoretically they will be confined to a heavily policed static demonstration, however most of their rank’n’file are unlikely to be satisfied with this – statements such as “we’ll march wherever we fucking want” and (unfortunately) “whose streets?” are now commonplace on EDL forums.
EDLers tend to meet up in pubs before demos from about 11am, marching/stumbling to the demo start points at 1pm to be marched around their city du jour in a mobile kettle before being deposited back in the drinking houses to toast their massive success. Given the media attention on the EDL, the small number of pubs still willing to host them and their well documented inability to drink a pint of Stella without shouting “Allah is a paedo!” the hierarchy may well avoid the official ‘muster pub’ strategy. Though the majority of their casual support wouldn’t turn out if the prospect of a piss-up wasn’t on the cards.
Once the official demonstration point is announced police will most likely build a massive pen and devise a strategy to funnel the fash into it. What happens on the day though will depend on police tactics as well as EDL and opposition numbers. If they get a large turnout or if the police decide to be hands-off they will march regardless of the ban, in which case it is up to us to stop them. Alternatively the EDL may be (physically) fragmented – either by choice or by baton. In this scenario smaller groups of boneheads may try to make their way into Tower Hamlets where locals and antifascists should be ready to run them out of town.
The only thing that is certain is that the greater the numbers on the streets to oppose them, the higher the chances of inflicting one last humiliating defeat on Tommy’s Boys.
Having brought the ban about, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) have spent the last few days bitching that it shouldn’t apply to them. They’ve now moved their assembly point from Weavers Field to the corner of Vallance Road and Whitechapel Road, at 11am. This is the same area autonomous groups had been calling for people to gather, while the increased numbers are welcome, they will likely come with a police pen of their own as well as UAF stewards attempting to control crowds.
Although it’s always preferable to avoid being kettled, if we are contained in the very area the EDL want to be it will still be a victory – of sorts. However our ability to stay mobile without being picked off is our greatest strength. An overwhelming anti-fascist presence on this one might just be enough to permanently burst the EDL’s bubble, leaving the pathetic remnants of street-fighting British nationalism squabbling amongst themselves and beating each other up over who’s best to lead the master race.
11am Saturday 3rd September
Tower Hamlets, East London