(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang

Posted by in September's Magazine

My training from the punk rock years kicked in right away. An application by the Scottish Defence League (SDL) to march in Edinburgh had been lodged with the City of Edinburgh Council. They wanted to meet up on Regent Road to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by marching to the American Consulate to lay a wreath then proceed to Waterloo Place, to stick up the V’s to the SWP paper sellers before retreating back to Regent Road under police protection, on a Saturday afternoon when the St. James Centre is heaving with shoppers the week after the Mela Festival.

I believe the SDL to be a racist and fascist organisation. They are our version of the English Defence League who adopted the name of the ‘Enfield Defence League’ and recently marched through Enfield chasing non-white citizens unlucky enough to cross their path. Failing to find easy prey, they then turned their hatred on a Sunday Herald photographer. In reality they were football casuals, followers of Fulham and Millwall, who had buried the hatchet to ‘defend their area’.


The SDL recently marched in Irvine carrying placards daubed with provocative slogans such as ‘no more mosques’. The brandishing of Union Jack flags by members of the SDL led some to remark that this was merely a Rangers supporters’ branch in disguise. Whilst I can understand this jaundiced point of view there are many Rangers supporters who would be appalled at their club being identified with this mob.

Unconvincing denials
The application stated 200 marchers were expected on the day with four coaches expected to travel to Edinburgh, Those travelling by train would leave by the back of Waverley Station, climbing Jacob’s Ladder to join the march. This was trouble being bussed in to the city. The National Front’s 1978 ‘anti mugging march’ in Lewisham in diluted form, the same parading of petty prejudice disguised as political point in the Festival city. No. Not in our city.

Thankfully, that training kicked in. First find out how to object. Second submit an objection. Third ask others to do the same. Alerting my trade union Unite led to them alerting head office who made sure that a united trade union view via the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) was agreed then conveyed to Edinburgh Council. The STUC submission including evidence from Irvine proved to be key on the day of the committee consideration of the application.

Politicians of different persuasions and viewpoints submitted objections. The views of the previously silent majority were also submitted to this application and carried weight with the committee on the day. Over 1,000 objections flooded in. Legal advice to the committee reminded councillors that they needed to base any rejection on grounds of ‘public order’ and ‘public safety’. The police informed the committee that they were confident that they could handle any ‘public order’ issues on the day. A cynic was heard to remark that the police only “wanted to practice new crowd dispersal techniques and equipment on the day.” As if. The council’s community safety officer was confident that arrangements made would cope with any events on the day. Councillors of all parties were not convinced. Disorder and disruption in the Royal Mile the last time permission was given by the council to allow the SDL to march in Edinburgh was mentioned.

It was the STUC submission that helpfully included photographs from Irvine that proved decisive. The March applicant appearing before the committee also appeared in the photographs. Adroit questioning by chair of the committee and Leith councillor Rob Munn led to unconvincing denials by the applicant that the placards – complete with SDL logos and provocative statements – had appeared in the middle of the demo at Irvine and were not the property of the SDL. One reply by the applicant to persistent questioning by the committee led to a revealing reply that “if they were provocative the police would have removed them.”

Battle of Cable St
An indictment not just of SDL views but also police inaction to blatant racist views. It was suggested the SDL needed ‘to take drastic action’ on what they defined as ‘militant Islam’. The committee unanimously rejected the application. The National Front was given permission to march in Lewisham, the SDL were refused permission to march in Edinburgh, progress for anti-racism in my view.

The threat of a ‘static protest’ by the SDL may reveal exactly what was meant by ‘drastic action’. What is guaranteed is that a counter demonstration will be held. Unite Against Fascism and Scotland United are meeting to discuss how to proceed and ensure that fascism does not parade its prejudice in Edinburgh. This year sees the 75th anniversary of the battle of Cable Street. The ghosts of Cable Street still march on. The class of 77 &78 who rocked against racism still march on. The call has been made. The class of 2011 must march on.

3 responses to “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang”

  1. tommy martin says:

    An excellent article, I welcome this kind of article in the leither. Gordon spoke well at the rally and most importantly- they did not pass! Critical as I am of labour and the snp (i prefer the paper sellers) I think my opinion has warmed somewhat. The north east and north west infidels as the edl call themselves, were drinking in the prom bar and the half way house- I have been assured this was at the invitation of a local window cleaner who refers to himself as leader of the sdl- not the owner. However it may be worth following up, the sdl website stated they would return there next time. Leith must not let them pass either. No pasaran!

  2. Merlin John says:

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  3. Angel says:

    There are many such situations where I found some type of March against corruption and things related to this. The topic presented here is really interesting one and I enjoyed reading this article very well. Hope the site will share more like this and thanks!
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