Category Archives: anti-fascism

Political Issues Remain After White Man March Sent Packing in Liverpool

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Fascists ended up with egg on their face in the left luggage section of Lime Street Station.

The build-up to the White Man March had been intense. As soon as the event was announced by the fascist National Action a few months back, various groups on the Liverpool and national left began planning their response. In Liverpool, this process was complicated by the continuing and horrific presence of activists who had ties to both camps, but that’s a matter for another day.

In the last week or so, Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson threw petrol on the flames when he published a letter purportedly from National Action, which promised “only bullets will stop us”. Though NA claimed the letter was the work of a provocateur, Anderson used it to push for an increase in his own powers. On the Liverpool Labour blog – widely quoted in the Liverpool Echo – Anderson called for national politicians to “reverse the current situation where I, as the highest ranking democratically-elected official in my city, have no power to represent my community and take steps to safeguard my communities – only the Home Secretary does.”

In other words, Anderson – who by his own confession has killed many with his cuts to local services – wants the power to decided what is and what is not “on the wing of any normal political ideology”, and therefore what is to be granted the liberal democratic right to protest. It would be a disaster if Anderson were to be granted this power, as it would no doubt be used against those who oppose austerity before too long.

Yesterday’s result – thousands of working class activists overwhelming both police and fascists to force the cancellation of the march – is infinitely preferable to an anti-working class mayor using the police to ban the march. The ‘Battle of Lime Street’, as it is already being called, it possibly the Liverpool left’s greatest achievement in a generation. Though he was forced to concede that people power won the day, Anderson and all capitalist politicians will be wary of a force that made them irrelevant for one day, and which showed the potential to make them irrelevant for all time.

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Fascists Jailed For Liverpool City Centre Attack

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.

Liverpool Antifascists Gather to Commemorate Pavlos Fyssas

On Saturday evening, fifteen Liverpool antifascists gathered at very short notice, to commemorate our comrade Pavlos Fyssas, who was murdered by a supporter of the Greek neo-fascist Golden Dawn party. The assembly – next to the Victoria monument in Derby Square – was arranged via Facebook and word of mouth, and was intended to show our solidarity with Greek antifascism.

Alongside their attacks on leftists and antifascists, Golden Dawn target immigrants and LGBTQ people, amongst other already marginalised groups. In the absence of a coherent class-based alternative to the economic catastrophe in Greece, Golden Dawn have gained a dangerous and growing following by posing as anti-establishment outsiders. However, some consider them to be a paramilitary arm of the Greek state.

Similar gatherings happened simultaneously in Manchester, London, Derry, and many cities across Europe. The Greek struggle is our struggle! The battle continues! Pavlos Fyssas lives on!

Merseyside Bedroom Tax Federation: After The Storm

Despite Federal tensions, neighbourhood resistance has continued to grow

During the spring, the Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups was formed, following weeks of frenzied activity. Neighbourhood-based groups from all across the region sent delegates to meetings in Liverpool town centre, and amidst a buzz of excitement, an anti-oppression motion was unanimously agreed.

But the trouble began when it became clear that one local anti-bedroom tax group – based in Knowsley – had strong links to notorious local fascists. Knowsley sought to join the Federation, and anti-fascists tried to raise the alarm. But at the next Federation meeting, the Knowsley application was steamrollered through by the chair, who refused to allow antifascists permission to air their concerns. The next moment I received a tweet from a jubilant Knowsley admin, threatening to take me to court for my “lies” (I’m yet to hear anything further, by the way). Following this, the Federation Twitter account published statements attacking “the anarchists”, aimed at covering up the chair’s undemocratic actions.

At a special meeting called to look into whether “the Federation [had] been brought into disrepute”, Knowsley’s affiliation application was withdrawn, and no-one from that group has attended any further meetings. In the meantime, local groups have continued doing some excellent work, but the issue of what happened at the 1st June meeting has been the elephant in the room at a federal level.

Yesterday, over a tense and very emotional hour and a half, delegates had it out. This was prompted by a motion from one of the local groups, which called for “The activists who have made public statements attacking the Federation” (a reference to those who had called-out the behaviour of individuals within the Federation) to “withdraw them”. Further, “all groups agree not to make public statements attacking the Federation or members of the Federation”, and later on, “concerns or disagreements to be put in writing and discussed at a full Federation meeting and to agree with the democratic decision at that meeting”.

There was lots of back and forth about the merits or otherwise of what antifascists had written in their whistleblowing blog posts, but when one speaker described the motion as “top down”, and another characterised it as “policing” what individuals are doing when “we’re not the state”, it was agreed to amend the resolution to the following:

“The Federation is to unite in practise whenever possible and assist all groups to become bigger and stronger in fighting the bedroom tax and cuts in welfare benefit.

“To agree to a Code of Conduct. Differences should be respected, and all members have a right to express their positions and discuss in a frank, open and respectful way.

“Members should not make personal attacks. The Chairperson to pull members to order when personal attacks are made and if the person persists they be asked to leave the meeting.”

The amendment was backed by a majority of three, out of eleven voting delegates. While such a margin shows there are still tensions and suspicions within the group, there was a sense that the air has been cleared somewhat, and hopes that the Federation will be able to put the infighting behind us, so we can get on with the urgent work of challenging the bedroom tax. With fascists unable to spread their divisive poison anywhere near affiliated groups, we can proceed with some confidence.

Fascists Fail to Disrupt Irish March in Liverpool

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On 21st July 2012, a national mobilisation of fascists caused severe disruption to the march commemorating James Larkin, a Liverpool-born trade unionist who united Catholics and Protestants against the rich in Ireland. Last Saturday, fascist numbers were much smaller, and the participants were able to walk the course without being spat at, having stones thrown at them, and being called “paedophiles” by a baying mob. But this was largely due to the actions of the police, and antifascists cannot afford any complacency.

Last summer’s event saw police facilitate a mobile fascist counter-demo around the Irish march, organised by the James Larkin Society and Cairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland), and led by Irish Patriots Republican Flute Band. Fascists farcically linked these to the long-disestablished Irish Republican Army, despite the groups’ support for the “peace process” and the institutions set up by the Good Friday Agreement. As hundreds surrounded the march, hurled abuse, then cut through side streets to queue up for another go, the police stood by, only intervening at points where fascists managed to get in amongst the march itself.

This year, with an English Defence League national callout in Birmingham clearly dividing their forces, the local “Scouse Nationalists” initially struck a conciliatory pose. They bizarrely claimed not to be anti-Irish as “we are the Irish”, whatever that meant, and announced they would merely be pointing out individuals they considered to be connected to terrorism. However, this stance only lasted a couple of days. By the middle of last week they were posting spotter cards of local antifascists they expected to be at the event, and lapsing back into potato-based anti-Irish ‘humour’ (a reference to the nineteenth century Great Famine, often described as an act of genocide by the British against the Irish).

This coincided with police issuing Section 14 notices to the fascists, restricting their protest to a small corner of St George’s Plateau on Lime Street. Fascists began posting anti-police messages online, including a video of one man burning his notice. Having publicly announcing their intention to defy the Section 14, they would have appeared cowardly not to have done so.

Many fascists did defy the order. Of the ten charged by police as of yesterday, nine charges were for Section 14 of the Public Order Act. The other went to Shane ‘Diddyman’ Calvert of Blackburn, who was charged with possession of cocaine. That is bound to go down particularly well when he resumes his trial for attacks on antifascists and members of the public in Liverpool’s Bold Street last July.

While police have a long track record of enabling fascist street activity, Mayor Joe Anderson has made public statements condemning “extremist groups” for “a big impact on the city’s image and its retail economy – making parts of the centre a ‘no-go’ zone for shoppers on the busiest day of the week”. Pressure from Anderson likely led to the major change in police tactics from 2012.

In the event, while last year’s march looked like a fascist one to outsiders – particularly in the ethnically and culturally diverse Toxteth area of the city – this weekend’s one must have seemed like a police rally. The state and the police dictated terms to everyone else, and they will be well happy with how things turned out. Antifascists from various groups did a far better job of letting people on the route know about the event than they did last year.

But it’s when the cops are not there that fascists have been doing most damage lately, particularly on their rampage through town after the killing of soldier Lee Rigby, where they attacked a woman for wearing Islamic dress. Their expressions of glee at attacks on a local corner shop and the terror alert at a mosque in Toxteth show that they have the potential to get far nastier. Antifascists locally and nationally face a massive challenge in the months and years to come.

Why I Won’t Be Giving In To Enablers Of Fascism

Fascist Kurtis Cawley (hands in trouser pockets) at a Knowsley demo

Last Saturday, I was sitting on the bed at home, when my mobile went off. It was a text informing me that the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation had just voted to let the Knowsley group I’d written about a couple of weeks back affiliate. This was a shock, because I believed our anti-oppression statement would be enough to effectively exclude them so long as they continued refusing to exclude and distance themselves from actual living, breathing fascists – fascists who have attacked the very building they were sitting in. Sadly I was wrong in that belief, and Rhiannon Lowton has explained in some detail how that happened.

‘That’s it then’, I thought to myself, ‘no-one other than white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, right-wing men can consider themselves safe at Federation meetings.’ After all, surely I don’t need to state that fascists have killed already oppressed and marginalised people again and again and again. This was absolutely not, as I heard the chair had described it, just “Facebook gossip”.

So that was a bit shit. Then just one minute later I got a tweet from the victorious and fully approved Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax. “U have until midnight Sunday to remove the comments about us on ALL blogs, or legal action commences”. Now this wasn’t a total surprise, as the Knowsley admin had threatened such activity on the comments section of my post outing the group. In that exchange, he had completely misrepresented my arguments, and then called allegations I had never made ‘lies’. But it was galling that there was such an obvious timing link between the Federation’s backing and his reinforced threat to pursue me for libel.

He’s welcome to waste his time, energy and money doing that, if he has any spare. Personally I don’t, and I’d much rather he spent his on something for the people of Knowsley he claims to care so much about. Oh, and unfriend this man on Facebook.

Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax Embrace Fascists, Exclude Antifascists

Dumont (centre) posing with the flag of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn

The growing Merseyside movement against the bedroom tax has astonished and delighted long-standing activists with the speed of its growth, both in terms of numbers and geographical spread. From the initial meeting in Liverpool city centre just four months ago, it has grown to involve thousands of people from across the region. Each local group is very different from the next, and this is to be welcomed, so long as it doesn’t stop us uniting when it matters.

But one difference which absolutely cannot be tolerated – as the new all-Merseyside federation unanimously agreed at its meeting last Saturday – is the inclusion of fascists. The anti-oppression motion stated

“Far right organisations pose a real threat to the groups that they discriminate against. They 
seek to control the streets through violence and their involvement in demonstrations and 
meetings risks creating a hostile environment for PoC, LGBTQ people and women. Far right organisations also have a history of attacking trade unionists and left wingers, 
including some who have been involved in organising against the bedroom tax since the end 
of last year when the local campaign began.” 

It was therefore decided that:

As a federation, we will not associate with racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise 

oppressive organisations and/or their members. Racist, sexist, homophobic organisations and/or their members are not welcome at 
meetings, demonstrations or other events that the federation or its member groups 
have organised. The federation will not support or promote events or local groups that involve 

racist, sexist and homophobic organisations.”

This motion was put forward by a group of bedroom tax activists who had become concerned that far right groups were starting to get a foot in the door, with the danger that what should be a broad, class-based campaign could be divided against itself. The federation had to choose: exclude the fascists, or by our inaction effectively exclude the groups fascists would happily send to the gas chambers.

Local fascists calling themselves the “Scouse Nationalists” have been hovering on the edges of the bedroom tax movement since the end of February, when they announced they would attend the first Stand Up In Bootle demonstration, before making do with popping up on the opposite side of the road. The same pair – Stephen Dumont and Kurtis Cawley – then made an appearance at the Labour Party-organised event in Liverpool city centre two weeks later. On both occasions they received a frosty welcome from antifascists before returning home to post a bizarre collection of lies on their blog.

But they seem to have carved out a niche with Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax, whose internet admins have reacted angrily to suggestions that they should be kept away. On Sunday, the Federation’s motion was posted on the Knowsley page, and again antifascists were met with hostility. Instead of defending people that fascists would love to oppress within the working class, the admins decided to defend the fascists, declaring that:

We do not judge people we do not know, and we can only take people as we find them, by what they do and by what they say. We will not prejudge people, we will not make assumptions and we will not put out any statements banning people who we have never met or have never spoken to. We would be discriminatory if we did.”

Like all ‘neutral’ poses, the statement works to defend the oppressors. But more than this, people pointing out that Dumont posed with a Greek fascist flag over the weekend (see above), or that Cawley has made the Liverpool Echo for his anti-Muslim actions, had their posts removed, were dismissed as “clucking hen wives”, told they “need to get laid” and eventually banned. It is clear that Knowsley Fight The Bedroom Tax have chosen their path, and unfortunately it leads away from hopes of uniting the working class against the government.