Far-rightwing Christian patriots Britain First are on a mission to cleanse Britain’s streets of Muslims.
One of their stated policies is to “Offer generous grants to those of foreign descent resident here who wish to leave permanently”. In the meantime, in order to help encourage foreign people to leave Britain, they spread lies about Muslims – spewing forth even worse bile than that which is viciously propagated in the mainstream media (on an almost daily basis).
Former BNP publicist turned Britain First frontman, Paul Golding, claims not to be racist, but has nevertheless stated that “Britain First will not rest until Islam has been driven from our shores!” Speaking in recent documentary he confirms, “It will end in bloodshed. It will end in civil war in this country.” Ever the consummate professional, Paul prefers not to Sieg Heil in public, he leaves that to his misled fanboys.
Britain First profess to be “a movement of British nationalism, patriotism and democracy” while, at the same time, they are adamant that they stand “opposed to all alien and destructive political or religious doctrines”, including Liberalism. Of course Britain First also have a conspiratorial aversion to Marxism too.
However, as a Marxist and member of the Socialist Party in Leicester, despite my dislike of everything that Britain First stands for, I believe that the most effective way of opposing such opportunistic far-rightwing groups is by posing a meaningful political alternative to the poverty of mainstream politics. It is for such reasons that I stood in last year’s elections for the firmly anti-austerity, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.
Calling for the outright banning of rightwing groups from our streets, as some do, is totally counterproductive; but we certainly do not need to let them have free reign of our city, as Sir Peter Soulsby did in 2012, when he let the EDL march right through the centre of town. Instead the best way of fighting the far-right is by mobilising mass opposition on our streets, just as we did on Saturday afternoon in Leicester.
Nevertheless some people disagree with such tactics. Earlier today for example, Stuart Young, UKIP’s recent parliamentary candidate for Leicester West explained:
“I am going to speak plainly here. I don’t like the Britain First party. Their big state and religious racist views are the complete opposite of what I stand for. That said, the lot who decided they had the moral high ground to shout them down and abuse them are just as bad. Actually, no. They are worse. Anti-fascist groups? Don’t make me laugh. They are some of the most fascist people I have ever had the misfortune to meet.” (Web site comment, May 23, Leicester Mercury)
Taking an alternative political position on the same Leicester Mercury report (“Mayor Peter Soulsby praises ‘good people of Leicester’ who challenged Britain First activists”), Gush Bhumbra, the President of the Leicester Secular Society made the following misguided post on facebook:
“While it is great that the people of Leicester show that we don’t want racism spread here, we cannot have people being stopped from peacefully proclaiming patriotic ideas and protesting against immigration. Free speech is way too important to be curtailed by the threat of violence. I don’t know the details but if it is true that the police had to escort them because of threats to their safety, it is a sad day for free speech here in Leicester.”
To this confused response I wrote:
“Do you know who Britain First are? They drive round in military convoys and call themselves a ‘street defence organisation’. You seem to impute violence to the people of Leicester who were adamantly opposed to racism on our streets. As you admit you clearly ‘don’t know the details’ so don’t cry and say ‘it is a sad day for free speech here in Leicester.’ When thousands of people march through the streets and get angry about the Tories holding their conferences in our cities – with massive police protection I might add – do you similarly weep for the demise of democracy and say ‘it is a sad day for free speech’?”