Luke from Edinburgh UAF reports
The Scottish Defence League came to Alloa yesterday as they thought they could take advantage of a 2000 signature petition claiming that the council was giving refugees priority for housing over disabled and homeless locals. Just 40 SDL were confronted with a loud and proud demonstration of 200 overwhelmingly local people, meaning that any locals with potential sympathy for them stayed away from them, or in one case ran away.
There was, and continues to be, a lot of political division on the left and it is important to counter this and that we continue to try to use the tactic of the united front effectively. This counter protest was organised openly and involved local people from all the progressive parties.
In Scotland where the Independence question still dominates, Sadiq Khan’s recent misjudged comments about Scottish nationalism threatened to tear apart the loose organising group, but we managed to hold together unity around the specific point of opposing the SDL.
We didn’t manage to win the united front argument with another group who refused to cooperate with us as we used the Unite Against Fascism badge, which meant in some of their eyes we were all ‘SWP-supporting rape apologists’.
There is a new generation of activists who have come through the student ranks, many involved in LGBTI politics, for whom identity politics is central and so the instinct to unite is not so strong and the argument of the united front has probably never been heard. The lesson to learn was we should continue to welcome them and I wish we had asked more of them to speak.
It was, however, a great demo. It will have set back the attempts of the SDL to build a local group. The message that “Refugees are Welcome” in Alloa will resonate across town for months to come. It meant that after our demo Mr Alloa, Mike Mulraney, who owns the football club and half the town, tweeted support.
From here on there is next Saturdays UN Anti-racism day march in Glasgow and then it’s Trump. The people organising Trumps state visit hope that Balmoral will be so remote from urban centres to dampen opposition, so mobilising in towns like Alloa will be key in terms of opposing the most powerful racist on the planet.