Created: Monday, 21 December 2009 10:45
Written by FRFI
FRFI 212 December 2009 / January 2010
Fight racism, fascism and imperialism
British capitalism is in crisis and British imperialism is facing a severe test in Afghanistan. The ruling class is divided over what direction is best to take, but is united in one thing – its attack upon the working class. It is urgent therefore that we build a revolutionary movement on the streets of Britain. Over the past two months FRFI has been actively campaigning to do just that, from London to Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, below are details of just some of the actions that we have been involved in.
Fascists off our streets!
FRFI activists have joined the thousands confronting the fascist English Defence League (EDL) on the streets of Britain. In September, EDL thugs were outside a mosque in Harrow, north London, an area with a significant Muslim population and were present again in Manchester on 10 October. They plan to hold more ‘demonstrations’ and FRFI members will continue to join those confronting them. In Glasgow, the Scottish Defence League (SDL) marched on 14 November (see page 5). After the protest FRFI supporters took a lead in organising a meeting of those who had been involved in the protest. Nearly 50 people attended on 17 November. There was intense criticism of the role of the SWP/UAF in the events of 14 November and the meeting formally established Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance, which will campaign on an anti-racist basis. The following day the UAF’s own meeting was far less well attended, showing that their opportunist politics, far from building a ‘united front’, have driven people away.
Fight Labour racism!
FRFI comrades also attended the demonstration outside the BBC’s Television Centre in West London on 22 October when Nick Griffin, BNP leader, was invited onto Question Time, where we distributed our leaflet ‘Who is more dangerous – Labour or the BNP?’, making the point that Labour is the most dangerous as it is the one with state power and should be the focus of anti-racist activism.
In Newcastle FRFI continues to play an active part in Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR). Recent months have seen a process of exhaustive discussion and open debate within TCAR on the network’s future direction, culminating in a revised set of principles voted in at a General Meeting on 10 October. These discussions arose from the links which members have increasingly been making between the situation of asylum seekers and others in Britain also under attack from racism. Collaboration began with the first Northern March Against Racism organised by TCAR in January 2008 and followed by two further marches, a regional conference attended by over 130 people, and more recently a string of successful ‘Speak Out Against Racism’ events. The new principles set out in detail TCAR’s wide-ranging opposition to all forms of racism, and make explicit TCAR’s longstanding opposition to imperialism and support for the right to resist. As the principles conclude: ‘Self defence is a human right!’
In Sunderland a regular FRFI group has begun to meet for political discussion, education and action, currently building towards a second Sunderland Speak Out Against Racism on 12 December. Comrades also attended a protest organised by Congolese asylum seekers outside Brand Street Immigration Reporting Centre in Glasgow in November, following the detention of three people by the Home Office.
In October FRFI organised a speaking tour around the country. In London on 17 October David Yaffe spoke about the capitalist crisis and the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries, while in a second session, there was a detailed analysis of how Cuba survived periods of economic crisis without betraying its socialist principles. Meetings on the crisis were held in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sunderland and Glasgow. A central theme was the parasitic character of British capitalism, and how this determines social and political developments in the country – for instance, the declining influence of the left, and its movement towards opportunism. The weakness of the left is as much ideological as numerical: it provides its members and supporters with an appalling level of political education. Recognising this, Liverpool FRFI has organised a series of educationals ‘What is capitalism?’ There have been five meetings to date, starting with the political significance of a sound understanding of Marxism, and then following the first chapter of Marx’s Capital to lay the basis for a solid grasp of today’s crisis. The series will continue in the New Year with two further topics: ‘What is imperialism?’ and ‘What is socialism?’
In October and November FRFI activists in London and the North East visited the postal workers’ picket lines to show our solidarity, and were met with a positive response from strikers on the need for anti-racist unity against Labour’s attacks. In Newcastle FRFI activists organised a picket of Reed and Manpower, two of the main recruitment agencies involved in hiring casual labour on behalf of Royal Mail to undermine the strikes. We call for solidarity with striking workers!
Troops out of Afghanistan! Hands off the Middle East!
On 24 October FRFI marched as part of the anti-imperialist contingent on the National London Stop the War demo. We chanted against the murderous occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq, called for the immediate withdrawal of troops and for the Labour cabinet to be put on trial for war crimes. In Manchester FRFI supporters attended the demonstration outside the Brimar factory in Chadderton on the 17 October. Brimar manufactures electronic viewing equipment which are found in fighter planes, attack helicopters, tanks, armoured vehicles and ground-based missile launchers. Israeli Apache helicopter pilots in Gaza, US marines in tanks in Fallujah, British Apache pilots in Afghanistan, and US fighter pilots over Iraq all aim and fire their deadly weaponry with display equipment made at Brimar’s factory in Chadderton. The demonstration was the start of what is planned to be a concerted campaign, Target Brimar, against the factory, www.targetbrimar.org.uk
On 7 November, at the start of the days of action called by the ‘Grassroots Campaign Against the Apartheid Wall’ in the West Bank and Gaza, Manchester supporters of FRFI organised a successful rolling picket of banks and shops in the city centre that support Israel in one way or another. Nationwide activists have held pickets of Marks & Spencer in solidarity with the people of Palestine, building towards an ‘Israel: Off Your Trolley’ day of action on 5 December, targeting a string of key supporters of Israel on the British high street.
It is imperative that we continue to build on the anti-racist and anti-imperialist work that we are doing. Look at the Events list on page 15 to see what we are doing and join us in action!