Reports from Jim McFarlane and Matt Dobson 2nd September 2012
The far right racist Scottish Defence League were sent packing from Dundee on 1st September. After months of hype from the SDL that they were coming to Dundee in big numbers along with their cohorts of the English Defence League & North West Infidels, they totalled a sorry mob of around 40. They were seen off after about 45 minutes from their tiny static protest outside the back of a shopping centre.
When the SDL announced their intention to come to Dundee the local trade unions met to discuss their response. An alliance of trade unionists, socialists, anti racist groups, a Muslim youth group and individuals moved into action. The organisation Dundee Together against Racism & Fascism lobbied the local council to ensure they were not allowed to march or hold their static protest in the City Square. A counter event was organised. The Dundee Together event occupied the area the SDL had wanted to use. Local bands played, artists performed and stalls and workshops were set up from a range of organisations. Hundreds of people visited this area throughout the day.
Speakers from the platform included Wayne Scott from Youth Fight For Jobs who outlined the importance of young people fighting for decent jobs and a better future to cut across the despair of the far right and Jim McFarlane of the Socialist Party Scotland and chair of Dundee City UNISON urged trade unionists to continue the struggle against austerity as well as the importance of workers leading the struggle against organisations like the SDL. Other speakers included politicians, trade unions such as the Fire Brigades Union and PCS, anti racist groups as well as representatives from the local Muslim, Jewish and Turkish communities united in their opposition to the racists and fascists.
As part of the days events a demonstration around city centre streets attracted 500 people to claim the streets from the racists. A wreath was laid at the memorial to the 17 men from the city who had died fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
The SDL arrived in the city in 2 half empty coaches just after lunchtime and were offloaded to a police co-ordinated corral at the side of the road. Very quickly they were surrounded by hundreds of anti-racist protesters who drowned out their hatred. City centre shoppers joined the counter protest to voice their objections to the presence of this racist rabble. The SDL were held behind 2 lines of police for a while then very quickly put back on their coaches to skulk away from the city centre with their tails between their legs.
Disgracefully Tayside Police had written to the local mosques urging Dundee's Muslims to stay away from the city centre on the day. Despite this local Muslim young people turned out in strength along with hundreds of other Dundonians to make sure the message was heard loud and clear that the SDL and their racist ideas were not welcome.
There was a warm welcome to the Socialist Party's message of challenging the SDL politically as well as the inevitable rise in racist ideas that flow from the political and economic policies of austerity supported by all the main parties.
It is no exaggeration to say that the SDL were humiliated on the day. The backlash spilled over to their own Facebook page where their supporters were complaining of the low turn out from their own members and their failure to attract any new support. One SDL supporter claimed to be surprised at the strength of the counter protest and how people were so aggressive towards them. They should not have been surprised.
Dundee Together Against Racism & Fascism was a big success and the hard work done in the weeks leading up to this ensured that the racist SDL got short shrift on the day.
Socialist Party Scotland
The Socialist Party played an active role in the Dundee Together campaign from the beginning. We had a very visible presence on the day. We put out hundreds of leaflets to people in attendance on behalf of the Socialist Party and Youth Fight for Jobs. Five people expressed interest in either joining or finding out more about the Socialist Party. This clearly shows that there are many workers and young people who are desperate for a political alternative to the parties of cuts and big business and are now looking to socialism as the alternative. Young people showed a particular interest in socialist ideas. Many bought a copy of our The Socialist, some bought copies of our pamphlets on how to fight fascism.
The profile of the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign was also raise. Many Young people and trade unionists were in attendance and responded well to our plans for a March for Jobs in Scotland this autumn. Twenty people signed up to the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign.
One thing that was clear from September 1st is that the far-right may attempt to divide ordinary people in Dundee, however they will not succeed. Despite their rhetoric about immigrants coming here to steal jobs and housing, working class people understand that the real reasons for the lack of jobs and housing is down to the austerity being carried out by all the major political parties at this present time. September 1st showed that racist and fascist groups have no place in Dundee and the majority will unite to oppose them whenever they raise their heads.
If we are to genuinely fight against the factors that lead to the far right gaining support we must fight against the austerity measures at the same time. Saturday’s massive mobilisation must be followed by a massive mobilisation for the STUC demonstration in Glasgow on October 20th. We must turn the fight against the far-right into a struggle against cuts and austerity and fight for a political alternative for working class people that can cut across the lies spread by racist organisations.