|Clockwise from top left: Pinkham, Kearns, Calvert, Dumont, Coates, Hawley|
Yesterday evening, seven fascists associated with the EDL breakaway North West Infidels were given prison sentences for their role in a violent street attack last July. As CCTV footage confirmed, the seven men pounced on a smaller group of antifascists and musicians, in the lead-up to an antifascist fundraiser in Liverpool’s Bold Street. Each admitted violent disorder and were given much smaller terms than the maximum prison sentence of five years.
The group, led by Liam Pinkham, ran across Bold Street and laid into a smaller gathering outside the Tabac cafe. When the antifascists and musicians took refuge in Tabac, they were followed, and tables were sent flying.
The fascists sent down were:
- Liam Pinkham, 24, of Victoria Road, Wallasey, sentenced to seventeen months.
- Michael Kearns, 41, of Dovecot Avenue, Liverpool, sentenced to fourteen months.
- Shane Calvert, 31, of Shetland Close, Blackburn, sentenced to fourteen months.
- Peter Hawley, 53, of Alisa Road, Blackburn, sentenced to thirteen months.
- Matthew Coates, 22, of New Place Lane, Southport, sentenced to ten months.
- Steven Dumont, 18, of Rosewood Close, Liverpool, sentenced to five months.
Nathan Smith, 21, of Kingsway, Huyton, did not show up for sentencing, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
There can be no doubt that the streets of Liverpool in particular will be far safer for these fascists’ absence over the coming months. There is a sense in which the “Scouse Nationalists” have had the heart torn out of their would-be firm, with Pinkham and Kearns behind bars. Dumont is what passes for the brains of the outfit, and has shown some skill in motivating some of the most politically backward sections of the working class with his online combination of populist posturing and outright lies about opponents. However, fascists have historically thrived on jail time martyrdom, and the North West Infidels are already playing up that aspect, farcically describing the seven as “political prisoners”.
The Bold Street attack took place at a time when the Infidels were arguably in the ascendency, and growing in confidence as a street crew. Their electoral alliance with National Front mayoral candidate and former Quiggins owner Pete Tierney had proved disastrous, and they were turning their attention to threatened and actual thuggery against “reds” and Liverpool Irish. But they overreached themselves that Friday, and their long decline began. With key members facing time, they have had to show a measure of self-restraint.
Having made these arrests however, police have not gone in for the kill with local fascism. Just two weeks later, the Infidels managed to mobilise three hundred EDL-linked people from around the country, plus elements of Merseyside Orange Order, for a counter-demonstration against a local Irish Republican flute band’s parade in the name of Liverpool-born trade union leader James Larkin. With numbers about even on pro- and anti-fascist sides, it was the police who decided the balance of power, allowing fascists and Orangeists almost right up in the face of those on the parade, who were spat at, absurdly called “paedos” and “IRA”, and had missiles thrown at them. Only at points when the melee began to spill out of police control did the cops assert their authority.
Anti-Irish racism has remained a key component of local fascism ever since, as street fascists have tried – and largely failed – to make links with local Orangeism. Many online postings have revelled in potato-based ‘humour’, mocking the Irish famine/genocide which originally compelled some in the diaspora to seek refuge in Liverpool. No arrests have followed this.
Frequent anti-Muslim postings have also drawn no arrests, despite being a clear incitement to racial hatred. Local fascists took their anti-Muslim bigotry to the streets in the wake of soldier Lee Rigby’s killing in May, and were protected by police as they did so.
In short, the police position on the fascist threat has proved the militant antifascist maxim that “No government in the world fights fascism to the death. When the bourgeoisie sees power slipping from its grasp, it has recourse to fascism to maintain itself.” Nowhere is this more obviously true than in Greece, where the most aggressive austerity measures in Europe, combined with the lack of successful working class resistance, has created conditions in which the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn have flourished like a fungus in shit. Amidst the social chaos of Greece, some sections of the ruling class clearly see Golden Dawn as useful, hence the toleration of everyday co-operation between police and the fascists.
Austerity in this country has not yet reached Greek proportions, but it will. When it does, a fascist force will be similarly tolerated by the state, and used against the most militant and most vulnerable sections of the working class. In this context, the police’s containment approach makes a lot of sense, from their perspective at least.
And neither should we allow ourselves to think for one minute that the state’s attention will not focus on the left, when it manages to become more of a threat to the status quo. It was anti-terrorist police who led the inquiry into the Bold Street fascist attack. But when a small group of antifascists peacefully met in Liverpool Central Library a few months back, they were shocked to overhear a plainclothes cop say “we’ve found the terrorists”.
To summarise, it would be a dreadful mistake to now conclude that the police are a friend of the oppressed. The task of combating fascism remains a task which falls primarily to those they would attack.