D.Dave | 10.07.2010 19:04 | Sheffield
On Sat the 3rd Leeds Anarchist Federation called a meeting for an Antifascist Coalition in Leeds with the intention of discussing the EDL and ideas for how to respond to their plans to march in Bradford in August. The people attending the meeting were aware of the EDL's intention to attack the meeting but decided to go ahead with it anyway. Preparations were made for this possibility with the intention to try to de-escalate first, as a fight in the Swarthmore Center was in no way what we wanted, and we were prepared for other eventualities should a de-escalation fail. However, this predicted attack never materialised.
What did happen was that 5 unknown people arrived. The door was locked and so they rang the buzzer and waited. They claimed to be antifascists wanting to go to the antifascist meeting. When they came in one of them told us they were antifascists from Wakefield and asked us what we were going to do about the EDL. Two of them stood nervously in the doorway and the others sat down, one of them went and sat quietly at the other end of the room from his friends. We asked why they wanted to confront the EDL and they said because some of them are racist. We tried to question them further about this but it seemed that the guy doing most of the talking didn't feel he was doing a very convincing job. He said "You know who we are, don't you?", so we asked who and he said they were the EDL. At this point, a number of people in the meeting stood up and positioned themselves more conveniently, so this man started insisting they didn't want a fight and they were just here to explain that they weren't racist. He insisted repeatedly that he was just here to talk and made numerous defensive bids for acceptance ("don't tar us all with the same brush", etc). They seemed to be more concerned about PR than anything else but the brief exchange we had with him was predictably ridiculous and it wasn't the time or the place to discuss what he wanted so we asked them to leave and after a few repetitions of "But just let me finish...", they did.
Despite being less of an attack and at most a mild inconvenience, it is in the interest of this man, called Snowy, to exaggerate this incident and his role in it as much as possible. Since the rooftop protests in Dudley he's been trying to rise higher in the ranks of the EDL and is obviously hoping that he and his faction will gain more credibility if he makes it in and out of an antifascist meeting unscathed (no matter how this was accomplished). Snowy's political ambitions are pretty transparent and his attempts to make his strange behaviour look impressive are equally transparent.
The politics of the EDL feed into an agenda that poses a threat to the unity of the working class and has to be confronted. All over the world the bosses and politicians are using the recession to attack the working class using the nationalist rhetoric that "we're all in this together", while the EDL serve to focus concerns away from these attacks onto immigrants and foreign culture, simultaneously encouraging the white working class to identify with the white ruling class in an act of pseudo-rebellion that only serves to undermine their own interests. Although the EDL is not a fascist organisation, their presence on the streets of Bradford will only serve to strengthen the division of the working class according to tribalist principles of ethnicity and culture. Having said this, testosterone laden politics that responds with merely street violence fails to adequately address the situation. Our response has to be in accordance with our political aims.
Anarchist Federation Leeds"
Attempts by the Anarchist Federation to organise an anti-EDL meeting in Leeds Sat failed dismally.
Having (badly sheffield.indymedia.org.uk) advertised a public meeting in Leeds to oppose the EDL, the clueless idiots of The Anarchist Federation didn’t bother to organise any form of security whatsoever. Entirely predictably, the EDL took advantage of the open target and walked into the meeting. The AF have no pedigree whatsoever in terms of antifascism, and in handing the EDL such an easy victory, have shown themselves to be a liability and an embarrassment.
The Leeds branch of the Anarchist Federation have little or no history of antifascist activity. Yet their ambitions to form a new ‘militant antifascist alliance’ to take on the EDL led them to publically announce such a meeting.
Not that they put much effort into advertizing the meeting, and they certainly didn’t invite any of the existing antifascist groups operating in West Yorkshire.
Bearing in mind the nature of the meeting, and the recent record of the EDL in turning up uninvited to anti-EDL meetings, one might have expected a certain amount of security.
As it was, when the meeting was held, on Saturday July 3rd, and despite the AF being tipped off about EDL plans to attend, there was NO SECURITY WHATSOEVER.
This appalling negligence allowed a small group of EDL activists to simply walk into the meeting, from which the Anarchist Federation showed no stomach to evict them. The EDL have not stopped crowing since. In one stupid blunderous move Leeds Anarchist Federation have not only handed the EDL an easy victory, they have undermined the hard work put in by real militant antifascists in Leeds over the past two decades.
We should all be in favour of more meaningful anti-fascist activity, but what possibly made Anarchist Federation think they had the ‘authority’ to organize this sort of meeting?.
From what we have seen most of them seem to be daft young kids. It should have been obvious that a public meeting of this type (not that we saw it advertized anywhere) needed to be secured, particularly in light of recent EDL activity. Anarchist Federation have been embarressment to anarchism for to long are we now going to take serious the thret they pose to working class unity?
We definitely think we need to build a mass alternative to the UAF/SWP, but this level of organisation and security hardly inspires confidence. Leeds Anarchist Federation ought to learn to walk before they try to run, otherwise they risk looking arrogant as well as stupid.
Members of Anarchist Federation where warned that this would happen, (and it should be common sence) yet still, no security.
Several Anarchist Federation members have serious security issues regarding them… no real Antifascist or Anarchist would touch them with a bargepole.
Also well done to the “guy in the back t-shirt” but still, how many people where at the meeting? on 4 guys? If you are incapable of defending a meeting against 4 guys… maybe you should reconsider your efficency in the “anarchist revolution” and indeed your role as an antifascist organisation.
The words “man up” seem to ring well.
Its also worth pointing out that several of your members are such fucking wankers that half of Leeds is probably upset with them at any given time.
Lastly as has been pointed out a certain bittersweet irony in the fact that you “Called for an Anti Fascist Alliance” and organised this event without inviting any of the organisations that currently oppose fascism in the area.