Labour should mobilise to stop the EDL


Last week we heard the welcome news that the march through Tower Hamlets by the racist English Defence League on 3rd September had been banned.

This was a victory for the grassroots campaign supported by local Labour MPs and councillors, both in Tower Hamlets and across London. Rushanara Ali rightly said, “The EDL is working hard to stir up racial and religious tensions in our community”, whilst Labour council leaders from across the capital put more pressure on the Home Office with their letter last week.

But the EDL still plan to come to Tower Hamlets.

EDL leader Stephen Lennon told BBC London “We’ll have a static demonstration and we’ll have our voices heard” whilst the EDL website says “they have banned our march but we will still have a static demo”. Past EDL demonstrations have seen Asian communities and their property attacked, while EDL slogans include ‘Burn the mosque’.

Given this attempt to intimidate London’s Muslim community, it is vital that the anti-racist demonstration against the EDL, celebrating the multicultural London we all love, is as large as possible.

When the EDL protested in Plymouth and Cambridge in July, the local Labour Party had a visible presence at the anti-racist event. Cambridge Labour Party and the universities Labour Club, led by Richard Howitt MEP, joined a large anti-racist march where they were warmly received at the local mosque.

At a mobilising meeting in Tower Hamlets last night, CWU General Secretary and vice-chair of Labour’s National Policy Forum, Billy Hayes, said “We need everyone out on Saturday, as many people as we can. We’ll be out in great numbers and we’ll push back the EDL on Saturday.”

I look forward to seeing lots of Labour Party members from across London turn out in huge numbers and show their solidarity with the people of the East End who are the target of the EDL’s hate.

The UAF and United East End anti-racist demo assembles on Saturday 3rd September at 11am at the corner of Vallance Road and Whitechapel Road, London E1 (nearest tube is Whitechapel – see a map).

See UAF for more details.

Aaron Kiely is a Labour councillor in Thurrock and sits on the NUS NEC