“Standing up to the EVF was the right thing to do”

DAVID WHITE took to the streets of Croydon on Saturday to make a stand against the EVF

When racist or fascist groups take to the streets, should we ignore them or demonstrate against them?

The small EVF contigent, reduced to making Nazi salutes, when they gathered at Lunar House on Saturday, outnumbered 5 to 1 by anti-racists campaigners

The small EVF contigent, reduced to making Nazi salutes, when they gathered at Lunar House on Saturday, outnumbered 5 to 1 by anti-racists campaigners

This dilemma faced multi-racial Croydon when the “English Volunteer Force” announced that it wanted to march from Croydon to Woolwich last Saturday. Trades unionists and others planned a counter-demonstration.

Having witnessed it, I am sure this was the right tactic.

The EVF could muster fewer than 40 activists, all from outside the area. The anti-racists had at least five times this number, drawn from local communities and trade unions.

The EVF provocatively chose Lunar House in Croydon, headquarters of the UK Border Agency, as the place to hold their rally. However, faced with the vastly superior size of the counter-demonstration, and hundreds of police, they were reduced to shouting slogans and making Nazi-type salutes.

After about 45 minutes they left, apparently taking a train from East Croydon, abandoning part of the route they were planning to march.

History has shown us that standing up to fascists is the best tactic. For example there was the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when thousands of anti-fascists forced Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts to abandon their march through the East End of London, with its large Jewish population. This is widely credited as being the beginning of the end for Mosley’s group.

Showing racist and fascist groups that most people reject their views is the best way to counter their ideology.

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5 Responses to “Standing up to the EVF was the right thing to do”

  1. davidcallam says:

    David: I beg to differ.

    Had I been around in 1936, I hope I would have been one of the anti-fascists on Cable Street.

    The fascist movement had recently won a civil war in Spain; it was in government in Germany and Italy; and it held sway in Britain. Moseley hob-knobbed with the Royal Family, who were rumoured to be enthralled by Hitler. And a weak government remained in the mood to appease.

    Noel Coward summed up the situation a few years later with a satirical little war-time song called: ‘Let’s not be beastly to the Germans’.

    Happily, things are distinctly different today. Europe is a far healthier place. Fascist parties are shadows of their former selves. The derisory number shouting the odds in central Croydon last weekend is a case in point.

    The waves of mass immigration to this country have opened the eyes of ordinary people. Croydon’s cosmopolitan mixture is a testament to tolerance. We know so much more about foreigners than our forbears – and racism needs ignorance and the fear it breeds in order to thrive.

    Of course we must remain vigilant, but turning out to mock the pathetic efforts of these sad bigots is surely a step too far. There are always better ways to spend time, like watching paint dry.

  2. aleng154 says:

    I was there on Saturday and I am even more convinced that the racists of the EVF should be pursued and harried wherever and whenever possible. Their messages of hate, ludicrously dressed up as patriotism, should be challenged at every opportunity. It didn’t take long for many of these “English Patriots” to show their true colours and start giving Nazi salutes at the demonstration. I was proud to be part of the counter demonstration that opposed them. I will have no hesitation in protesting again when the BNP stage another demonstration outside Lunar House in September.

    I really can’t understand the views expressed by some, most notably the MP for Croydon Central, that if we leave these bigots alone they will just melt away – they won’t. They are not the sort of people that will listen to reason. For example, one of the posts on the EVF web site, referring to Saturday; “Wish you had just kicked f**k out of them. They deserve it and more. UAF SCUM!” Yeah – nice people.

    If they aren’t opposed and challenged, this will only give them more encouragement to stage more protests in Croydon. The fact that they were significantly outnumbered by counter protestors on Saturday sends a clear message that their abhorrent views won’t be tolerated in our community.

    I totally agree – showing racist and fascist groups that most people reject their views is the best way to counter their ideology.

  3. Pingback: Standing up to the EVF was the right thing to do | gingerblokeblog

  4. adrianwin says:

    Aleng154 makes a valid point saying “The fact that they were significantly outnumbered by counter protestors on Saturday sends a clear message”, but on the other hand, could it be that the EVF welcome becoming part of a high-profile ‘event’, and enjoy the atmosphere and extra attention that comes as a result of the counter demonstations? Perhaps they would feel such protests are worthless if the only people present are the less than 40 that they can muster.

  5. “They are not the sort of people that will listen to reason.”
    Spot on Aleng154: so what’s the point in trying?
    You can’t have a discussion with such people – they would punch you on the nose as soon as debate the merits of their argument (whatever they are).
    Leave them to their own sad devices, but with a clear instruction to the police that if they break the law they should be arrested immediately.

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