The fact that local worries about clashes between the left and right had been building for several months was it seems only recognised by one group of anti-fascists and blatantly missed by others.
Indeed the usual suspects of old school trade unionists and ‘jump on the bandwagon’ Trotskyite groups, who had not even begun to mobilise until a couple of months prior to the event, ultimately seem to be stuck in the old left madness of negotiating with the police for no other reason than then becoming the ‘legitimate’ state sanctioned protest, guaranteed to do nothing other than portray themselves to be the vanguard in the struggle against British fascism.
This tactic is not missed on the majority of the left in Britain, and has created such apathy that a protest today is lucky to bring out less than a fifth of people it would have done a decade ago.
Their loss of all radical thinking has led to the inability to form any kind of strategy, such as one that recognised it would take very little effort to sway local feelings to those of outright objection to the RWB being held in the future.
This goes way over the heads of it’s instigators who are lost in the illusion that joining the machinations of parliamentary acceptability, somehow still maintains a revolutionary zeal with an ability to actually do anything other than become part of the problem.
How these groups, many linked to the SWP in one way or another, can even achieve the pitiful numbers they brought out to march past the RWB, is nothing short of a miracle. It is likely however that even those attending are in the not too distant future most likely to ‘burn out’, dejected and disillusioned, with what has become about as radical as a ‘walk in the park’.
Thankfully however it appears all is not lost. One organisation, Antifa, since it’s birth a few years ago, has constantly harangued and bitten chunks out of British fascist groups. leaving them with a constant headache they appear not to be able to medicate against.
The formation of Antifa, built by a handful of ex members from the untimely ‘drawing down’ of Anti Fascist Action as well as mobilising from the ranks of small but highly politically astute British anarchist groups, has rejuvenated a militant tradition going back to Cable Street, the Spanish Civil War and the 43 Group.
Watching their ‘tactics’ over the last year in the build up to the RWB has been nothing short of watching political genius at work. By appearing to be mobilising a mass group of activists from the UK and abroad it was always going to be a headache for local authorities not willing to take any chances.
Successful ‘no platform’ style actions against the British National Party and the likes of neo-nazi cult group the British Peoples Party, Antifa seemed to know that even by simply turning out a handful of people willing to do nothing more than produce five minutes of chaos, would be more than enough to produce the desired result, a Red White and Blue Festival no longer being held in Denby and the BNP organisers with a major problem on their hands i.e.
“Where do we find a local authority next year willing to take a chance on hosting the RWB?”
Amusingly, the fascist and neo-nazis on Stormfront have been having a field day.
Their belief that the propaganda put out by Antifa was actually implying the organisation genuinely believed they would shut down this years festival, and the far-rights lack of knowledge of ‘left-wing’ groups in general, the bigger picture seems to have completely passed them by.
So buoyed up with seeing a genuinely vociferous but small protest result in mass arrests they have convinced themselves Antifa have been crushed and those arrested are going to be doing years and years behind bars, which is about as likely as Nick Griffin joining the SWP!
Interestingly enough, at the time of writing, Antifa have not even officially confirmed they were actually there, another strategy which shows the level of a political militant awareness that leaves the far-right nervously cackling from the sidelines, convincing themselves all is well in their 'fatherland'.
Where the rest of the British ‘left’ go from here is at present unclear. While the likes of the SWP have already claimed some kind of victory out of actually doing nothing at all, it is of genuine concern that people will still fall for their redundant and impotent style of politics.
One thing is for certain. If the SWP and their front groupings such as the UAF are allowed to continue their nonsense, the genuine fervour of many on the so called ‘left’ will remain untapped.
There remains an anti-fascist militancy in Britain that is sitting in the wings just waiting for its chance to ignite. Let’s hope that the likes of Antifa are able to light the spark.
Their actions up to now and the likelihood that their inspired militancy has stopped the RWB being held in Denby in the future suggests they are.