Dear Brothers and Sisters:
In the build up to the June 21st Anti-Fascist demonstration in London, there were unfortunate problems with the mobilisation from Leeds. We are writing in the hope that such problems can be avoided in the future and ensure a better Leeds contingent for such protests.
We are members of Workers Power and Revolution who requested tickets for ourselves and others who asked us to pick them up – friends, relatives, contacts, workmates. However we ran into real problems buying them by the UAF/SWP organisers. For two to three weeks we were told repeatedly there were none available, there were not enough etc. Yet when we got to the coach to go down, the fifty seater had only 25 people in it, while several Revo members could not get tickets and therefore did not go down! Clearly this is not an ideal situation.
We have never had a problem getting tickets before for coaches to London demos, for instance from Leeds Stop the War, even blocks of tickets which normally we sell out – indeed we successfully organised two coaches down to London for the Climate Change demo ourselves and of course we appealed for individuals and groups to take some away and sell them. This model works very well, and by ensuring as many groups as possible are behind the mobilisation ensures the maximum numbers of people on the coach and a more united movement.
Unfortunately the build-up to the 21st did not use this method. When Revo and WP members asked the UAF organisers for tickets to sell for the coach to the demonstration they were told there were none available. When a friend of a Revo member asked to purchase 10 tickets there were tickets but they could only purchase one ticket, as they didn’t know who the rest might be given to. Despite regular phone calls to the coach organisers, they were vague about whether tickets were available and whether there was any space on the coach, preventing Revo and WP building strongly for the event. After this went on for two or three weeks, WP and Revo members had to turn up on the day, without tickets, not knowing if they could even travel to attend the demonstration! In the end the coach to the demonstration was only half full, with roughly 25 people on board.
We hope this is simply one-off disorganisation and not sectarianism. It is public knowledge that WP and Revo disagree with UAF’s strategy of “vote anyone but the BNP”, and what we consider a liberal anti-racism based on forming alliances with celebrities and politicians from the three main parties. We believe we can stop the BNP and win back those white workers who have turned to it in desperation only by a militant anti-racism that defends immigrants without concessions to the racist media, a policy of no platform and self defence against faxism, and an emphasis on a struggle for working class needs which all three mainstream parties reject. In the past in response to these criticisms Revolution members were even expelled from the UAF group at Leeds University a year ago.
If this is another example of such obstruction based on differences which should properly be discussed and debated within the movement, it is unfortunate and we have to condemn it as sectarianism that blocks the building of a mass movement. We need to build an anti-fascist movement based upon free criticism and debate between its constituent parts combined with maximum unity in action against the racists and fascists. Without this, if these principles are sacrificed in order to keep David Cameron a signatory to UAF, or in order to avoid offending whichever Labour MP who wants to cynically use UAF as left-cover for their anti-working class policies, then the anti-fascist movement will continue to fail to stop the rise of the BNP.
We know that UAF activists also want to see the defeat of the BNP and hope that this was a one off. We look forward to your reply, of course we are happy to discuss any practical arrangements that can be made in the future to work together to make such events as successful as possible.
Leeds Workers Power