Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson, a known fascist and Islamophobe, joined today’s Football Lads Alliance (FLA) march, was welcomed by many demonstrators and was at the front of the march for a period.
Several trade unionists who came to support the Stand Up To Racism event at Downing Street, including a senior CWU postal workers rep, received racial abuse from some participants on the FLA demo.
Stand Up To Racism activists leafleted the demo, but increasingly the women and some men doing this, received abuse and physical threats from some on the FLA march.
Anti-racist leaflets were snatched and thrown back into people’s faces and beer cans were hurled at people holding trade union and anti-racist banners.
John Meighan, lead organiser of the FLA, made a speech that raises serious concerns. , He directly attacked Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott , saying “I’ve got a message for one person, Diane Abbott. It’s time for you and your motley crew to move over.”
Although thousands attended the event, it was a lot less than the 30,000 to 40,000 the organisers had expected.
Stand Up To Racism activists had gathered at Downing Street to put across a positive anti-racist message. They promoted the Show Racism The Red Card anti-racist day of action on 20 October.
They were joined by the joint General Secretary of the new NEU teachers union Kevin Courtney.
The FLA demo was far from the diverse “family friendly” event that its organisers had promised. There were people on the march who are not racists. This is good news. However the FLA is clearly failing to respond to real concerns about the far right and those with racist and Islamophobic views who are hitching themselves onto the project.
The FLA says it wants to oppose all extremism. But it is systematically failing to deal with far right extremists in its own ranks.
The fact that Tommy Robinson was welcomed on the demonstration by many shows there is support for racism and Islamophobia within the ranks of the Football Lads Alliance.