Some anniversaries


by Sunny
29th April, 2008 at 5:02 am    

27th April was the 30th anniversary of the seminal Rock Against Racism concert. I have a brilliant pullout produced by Searchlight magazine on this, dunno if its online though.

28th April was the 40th anniversary since the Abortion Act came into effect. Changed British history forever too.


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  1. flipside — on 29th April, 2008 at 9:44 am  
  2. billericaydicky — on 30th April, 2008 at 8:10 am  

    I don’t know who flipside is or why he/she has chosen to give this link. People should read the article by Aidan Rankin before they read the rest of this post.

    Rankin has a lot of valid things to say about the anti fascist left but because he has, as far as I know, never been a part of it he is very much the outsider looking at a phenomena that he doesn’t really understand.

    His criticism of the SWP controlled ANL is valid and could be applied to the current SWP vehicle for selling papers and recruiting members, Unite Against Fascism. The politics of ANL/UAF can only be understood by looking at them as sub branches of the SWP central committee. They are the classic 1930s united front always under the control of the Communist Party.

    The Leninist model which the SWP still advocates is typified by intolerance, control freakery, total lack of democracy and, when the organisation and its members are no longer needed, rapid liquidation. In power of course the liquidation would be physical.

    I have posted elswhere on this site about how the ANL/SWP historians rewrite the history of the anti fascist movement and it might be good for a discussion to be started on that subject. I will give a few examples from personal experience of how, far from building a democratic pluralist anti fascist movement, the leadership of the SWP have consistently wrecked all attempts to achieve that.

    After ten years of fighting against the National Front in 1977 the SWP decided to form the ANL to get control of a movement which they could see would yield recruits and money. Because of the diverse nature of the movement with dozens of local groups around the country it had not been possible for them to achieve this.

    Centralisation is their greatest tool,once there is a centre it can be taken over by packing meetings and using threats and actual physical violence against those who oppose their political methods.

    Within two years of the formation of the ANL the SWP central committee moved to shut it down. Although they controlled the centre the thing had grown organically and there were now branches around the country calling themselves ANL but in fact acting independently. They began expelling branches and individuals including Blair Peach who was killed in April 1979 at Southall.

    Periodically over the next twenty years the brand name would be trotted out and then put back on the shelf. All of this time there was interaction between ANL and Searchlight with the latter providing the intelligence on the far right which the ANL had no capacity to gather. It is quite wrong as Rankin has done to equate the tactics and strategy of the two organisations.

    Searchlight is very broad church with members and donors from all of the main parties, it works with all of the faith groups and a look at its website http://www.hopenothate.org.uk will show dozens of local groups across the country all independent and impossible to take over.

    In 2003 a backroom deal was done between the ANL and Lee Jasper’s National Assembly Against Racism to form a new group Unite Against Fascism. NAAR had few members and no activities but through Livingstone could get money from charities and the unions which wouldn’t touch the SWP controlled ANL with a bargepole.

    Ititially Searchlight was excluded but after a few months was admitted on union insistence. The problem was that there were two separate organisations, the countrywide net of Searchlight groups and UAF which was in effect the local SWP branch. There were then attempts to use violence to take over the independent branches which failed and there were in effect two organisations until Searchlight pulled out after a couple of years.

    What UAF did was to use tactics which were proving ineffective thirty years ago. Even in the seventies waving lollypops and shout nazi scum off our streets were past their sell by date. To try the same thing this century was a joke.

    Searchlight had been able to adapt to the times and shift the bulk of the movement to local campaigning on local issues. What the BNP are doing in Oldham is not what they are doing in outer east London. the UAF control freaks demanded that all material be produced centrally, purchased by the local groups and then distributed. As I have said, this is a money making venture as well.

    As the campaign progressed the differences in strategy and tactics became clearer. SWP/UAF refused to go onto the largely all white estates to talk to BNP voters and supporters claiming that they were all racists. There was more than an element of cowardice in this, they talk tough but when it comes to the crunch they usually leg it.

    In 2006 when the BNP made the breakthrough the UAF were nowhere to be seen in east London as they were all campaigning for George Galloway wearing their Respect hats. I hope that people will by now have an understanding of the very real differences between Searchlight and the broad nation wide campaign on the one hand and the out of date sectarian inefective one currently under the UAF banner. It is also ironic that while they call for physical confrontation with fascists they are always the first to run.

    All of this was reinforced yesterday in Victoria park when the current front Love Music Hate Racism brought about twenty thousand people to a damp festival using the tactics of thirty years ago. Once again there were threats of violence against people who they see as their rivals in the anti fascist business which were witnessed by some leading trades unionists.

    This is a long post I know but the tactics of how we all confront the far right have to be discussed. It is impossible for genuine anti racists and anti fascists to have anything to do with the corruption of the likes of Lee Jasper or the left fascism of the SWP/ANL/Respect/ anything else you want to put here. I,m taking a break now and I,ll come back with more on Aidan Rankin.

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