Rochdale unites against fascist EDL!

By Gerry Gable

For the second time in a week, anti fascists protested at a fascist incursion into the town of Rochdale, last Saturday, Unite Against Fascism writes.

Following a far from successful Britain First gathering, last Saturday, the English Defence League (EDL) held a march and rally, over this weekend. The fascists tried to exploit the issue of sexual abuse in the town and inflame Islamophobia. Both Britain First and the EDL failed in this, as locals refused to be part of their scapegoating.

Unite Against Fascism’s protest was mainly composed of people from Rochdale and Greater Manchester. (It came off the back of a well supported local statement saying that sexual exploitation is an appalling crime but it is not linked to ethnicity or religion). The EDL were bussed in and out of Rochdale by a huge, protective presence of police. Their national demonstration attracted barely 100 (see below). They included thugs from a Nazi splinter group.

Their hate largely fell on deaf ears. Several stayed in a pub, unenthusiastic at their own gathering. Speeches or more accurately, Islamophobic rants at the EDL rally, were drunken and reminiscent of National Front bile eg ‘ Immigration? Send them back’. Calls for fascist unity were also screeched, desperation was in the air. They left with as little support, as they arrived with.

In contrast, the UAF demonstration connected with people locally. Many said ‘we don’t want the far right coming here’. Once again, there was local and regional representation from trade unions. Unison members, Public and Commercial Services Union and the CWU did a sterling job. Speakers at the UAF rally included Sam O’Brien, member of Rochdale UNISON, Dave Wilson, Lancs Assoc TUC, as well as UAF and Stand Up to Racism.

Police again facilitated the fascists while at times kettling anti fascists and Asian youth. Despite this, all opposing the EDL were able eventually to unite and marched/rallied, to jeer at the departing EDL. The fragmentation of the far right continues.