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From: The Socialist issue 1031, 27 February 2019: Kick out austerity politicians

Search site for keywords: Salford - Far right - BBC - UKIP - Socialist Workers Party - EDL - Stand Up to Racism

Tommy Robinson BBC demo: socialist fightback needed to undermine far right

Tommy Robinson, Shayan Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn/CC

Tommy Robinson, Shayan Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Paul Gerrard, Salford Socialist Party

Supporters of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, AKA 'Tommy Robinson', gathered at the BBC's Media City studios in Salford to protest against Panorama's documentary on his far-right activities on Saturday 23 February.

The BBC had planned an exposť of Robinson, believing an aggrieved associate of his could be trusted to gain them access. But she passed BBC footage to Robinson, who made his own film entitled 'Panodrama' to embarrass the BBC. The demonstration displayed this on a giant screen - though a poor-quality link made much of it unviewable.

Many trade unionists would not see the point in defending the establishment media, whose bosses routinely ignore major demonstrations, and whose well-heeled presenters interrupt and harass left activists and Corbynista MPs.

But socialists do defend BBC workers in media unions who are trying to do their jobs, and who face harassment by supporters of the far right.

A joint Media City workforce statement from the National Union of Journalists and technicians' union Bectu, issued in advance of the demo, denounced the intimidation, threats and violence of the far right, especially targeting photojournalists.

It also rightly encouraged members not covering the event to attend the counter-demonstration.

The Robinson crowd included EDL and Ukip supporters. Ukip's leader Gerard Batten spoke in support of Robinson, who he has taken on as an adviser to Ukip.

In the event, although much smaller than last summer's mobilisations in London, the pro-Robinson demo seriously outnumbered the counter-demo. This dangerous development makes it urgent for the trade unions to take charge and mobilise behind a clear programme to improve working-class lives.

Instead, organising was left to 'Stand Up to Racism', led by the Socialist Workers Party. As usual they provided plenty of speakers who told us we must oppose racism, but put forward no answers.

That was left to Socialist Party member Steve North, secretary of the Salford branch of public service union Unison.

Workers

"When was the last time you saw this lot stand on a picket line with workers? When was the last time you saw them standing up for nurseries, or a decent NHS?

"Even for the people they pretend to support, the so-called white working class, they have no solutions.

"They don't fight for houses, they don't fight for jobs and services, they offer nothing but division."

In the vacuum left by Jeremy Corbyn and the trade union leaders failing to lead a fight to end Tory and Blairite austerity, the far right is trying to regroup.

The Socialist Party calls on Corbyn and the union tops to build for urgent mass action to force a general election, for a Corbyn-led government with socialist policies, which could decisively undermine the far right.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

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Article dated 27 February 2019

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RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June, photo by G Freeman

RMT picket at Nottingham station - East Midlands Railway dispute - Sunday 13th June. Photo G Freeman

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