by New Worker correspondent
MORE THAN 200 anti-fascists and anti-racists packed into the main hall of the National Union of Teachers’ Hamilton House headquarters in Euston on Saturday 6th February for the annual conference of Unite Against Fascism.
The main themes of the meeting were combating Islamophobia and campaigning for the British government to accept its fair share of the hundreds of thousands of refugees now fleeing imperialist wars in Africa and the Middle East.
There was also a lot of practical talk about building support for a giant “Stand up to Racism” demonstration to be held in London on Saturday 19th March, to coincide with United Nations Anti-Racism Day. The demonstration will assemble at noon in Portland Place, London W1A, outside the BBC headquarters.
There were speakers from a wide range groups and struggles and organisations fighting racism and fascism – from those who had been literally fighting Nazi thugs in Dover the previous week to a French Holocaust survivor.
They included Martina Renner from Die Linke (the Left Party) in the German Bundestag, Claude Moraes MEP, Jo Cardwell from Stand up to Ukip, Denis Fernando from the Rainbow Coalition Against Racism, footballer Francis Duku from Show Racism the Red Card, Lindsey German from Stop the War, Julie Ward MEP who won her seat in the European Parliament by defeating Nick Griffin of the BNP, who had held the seat in Manchester.
There was Amal Azzudin, a refugee representing the Glasgow Girls Committee, Lee Jasper from Black Activists Rising, Wilf Sullivan, who is the TUC race relations officer, Anne Swift representing the NUT, Talha Ahmed from the Muslim Council of Britain, and two black women MPs: Diane Abbott and Kate Osamor.
It was interesting to note that women frequently outnumbered men amongst the platform speakers at various sessions – and they made up at least half of the total number of participants attending the conference.
Topics of debate included: “How do we defeat fascism, the far right Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe”; “Cuts, crisis and scapegoating immigrants”; “Challenging fascist and far right groups in Britain”; and “Black lives matter – institutional racism and the police”.
Diane Abbott spoke of her visit with Jeremy Corbyn to the massive refugee camp In Calais, full of refugees hoping to come to Britain, to see first-hand what the conditions are like for people staying there.
She spoke of the appalling and unhealthy conditions there that no human beings should have to endure and of the terrible effects of the crisis on the children involved.
She also spoke of the British government’s responsibility for creating the crisis through direct and indirect intervention in the Middle East.
Claude Moraes, who has also visited the camp at Calais, said: “The most shocking thing about Calais – and there are many things that shock – is that it is an issue that is very solvable with the collective response of two of the world’s biggest economies, which should be cooperating on these issues.”
The New Worker had a stall at the event. During the contributions-from-the-floor part of the debate on fighting fascism in Europe, Daphne Liddle, speaking for the New Worker, raised the issue of the Nazi-supporting government of Ukraine, the outlawing of communism and anti-fascism, the desecration of the Babi Yar memorial and that the British army is involved in training and army these Nazis.
There was a good response to the point and afterwards a number of people came up to the New Worker stall asking to be put in touch with Solidarity with Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU).