On Saturday 20th July, the English Defence League held a national demonstration in Birmingham city centre. Following on from their previous attempts at mobilising members to come to Birmingham resulting in small numbers being chased out of town by anti racists and Muslim youth, this marked a new confidence in the wake of the Woolwich murder with several hundred EDL members descending on the city.
Over 1000 police officers were put in place to confine them to the only bar that opened it’s doors that afternoon in the city’s main clubbing district (at the request of the police!) and their agreed rallying point 200 metres away. The police also sealed off the surrounding area with the intention of preventing the counter mobilisation from demonstrating in view of the EDL. Unfortunately the organisers of the counter demonstration accepted this and held the rally in a nearby city square instead, allowing the police to kettle the 200 or so anti fascists and prevent any visual anti racist presence on the streets of Birmingham.
Birmingham Socialist Party members will be arguing that for any future counter demonstration against the far right to gain in numbers we will need to move on from simply appealing for “unity in the community” (the official demonstration slogan) and take the demands for decent jobs, homes and public services for all into working class communities to create genuine unity against racism and fascism.