Ethan Shone 30th November 2018
The shadow chancellor and Labour MP John McDonnell has issued a public rallying cry to all Labour members and supporters, and anyone who opposes the far-right, to mobilise in London on 9 December for a counter-protest against the “Great Brexit Betrayal” march, led by Tommy Robinson.
The counter-protest is being organised by Momentum, as well as a number of partner organisations including London Young Labour, Labour Against Racism and Fascism, and the Stop Trump Coalition, with more groups expected to join. It’s also likely that a number of solidarity events will be held in towns and cities all over the UK.
It doesn’t matter whether you voted leave or remain, Tommy Robinson doesn’t represent you
Talking about the march, McDonnell was keen to stress that this issue transcends Brexit, and that the counter-protest is not about supporting the government’s deal, or opposing Brexit itself, but standing up against the far right. He also stated Labour’s intent to address the problems he believes the Brexit vote came about as a result of.
“This march isn’t about Brexit, it’s about far right extremists dressing up in suits and pretending to be respectable.
“They don’t care about communities who voted to leave, the towns that have been ravaged for decades by heartless globalisation and held back by Tory austerity. Only Labour has a plan to rebuild these communities, with more investment and decent jobs in every region across the country. These far right extremists only care about themselves.
“It doesn’t matter whether you voted Leave or Remain, Tommy Robinson doesn’t represent you. I call on all Labour members and anyone who cares about the future of our country to join the demonstration on 9 December and stand firm against the poison Robinson is trying to inject into our politics.”
The “Great Brexit Betrayal” march has been organised by UKIP and Tommy Robinson. It is scheduled for two days before the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which takes place in parliament on 11 December. The demonstration seeks to put pressure on MPs to vote down the deal, in favour of a “hard Brexit”, but some also see it as a way for far right activists to draw in frustrated Brexit supporters to their wider cause.
Thousands of activists are expected to make the journey to London for the march. Police will likely be out in substantial numbers and will hope not to see a repeat of the violence and disruption which has accompanied previous marches associated with Robinson and the far right earlier this year.
The working class of Britain have a proud history of beating the far right
McDonnell also referenced Britain’s long history of opposing far right and fascist street movements, and stated the need for a strong labour movement presence to oppose them today.
“The working class of Britain have a proud history of beating the far right. In Lewisham in the 1970s, the National Front were outnumbered by nearly ten to one. At Cable Street, the local Jewish community and socialists from across Britain stood firm against Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts.
“This history must continue. A newly energised, well-funded network of hate is emerging, from Steve Bannon in the US to the former EDL leader Tommy Robinson at home, and it threatens the very fabric of our nation. The labour movement must be front and centre in opposing them, and I’m glad that Momentum are leading the way.”
The counter demo will be the third large demonstration organised by Momentum in recent months, following a strong turnout against the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) and a unity demonstration in central London against fascism and racism.
A Momentum spokesperson said: “Tommy Robinson is trying to position himself as the leader of the leave voters by pretending to care about Brexit. This is a lie, and all he seeks to do is legitimise himself and a politics of fear and division which blames refugees, migrants and Muslims for the problems in our society.
“Tommy Robinson doesn’t have the answers, and neither do his friends in the Tory party who have presided over the catastrophic ideological destruction of our country.
“We need a future of investment in our communities alongside access to decent healthcare, education and housing. The first step is to stand together against right wing extremists who look to destroy our country.”
Main image: David Holt
Ethan Shone 30th November 2018