Labour MPs Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and David Lammy called for a unified grassroots force to take on the far-right at the Stand up to Racism conference.
There were 1,400 people at the annual event on Saturday 20 October, which marked the end of National Hate Crime Awareness week. Crowds chanted: “We are black, white, Muslim and we’re Jews…and we’re gay.”
Dozens of politicians, campaigners and trade unionists spoke on stage about immigration, refugees and the global rise of racism and fascism within mainstream politics.
Lammy said: “The far-right are seriously organised and they are seriously moving their agenda across this planet.
“They know each other – Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Farage, Bannon, Salvini, Le Pen and Trump. And if they are organised, then we have to be organised and united as well.”
Exactly a week before the conference, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA, a far-right group) held a march in central London.
The march descended into violence after DFLA supporters tried to push past the police line separating them from anti-fascist counter-protestors.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “In the late 70s and 80s, the work of the Anti-Nazi League came at exactly the right time to confront the racism and fascism that was developing at the earliest stage.
“They recognised the imminent threats we faced and they were incredibly successful.
“I was there when Blair Peach was killed in Southall and we don’t want to see any more killings on our streets.
“That’s why a few months back I thought, well, there is an imminent threat now and we should recognise it.”
The National Picture
There was a 17 per cent increase in recorded hate crime in England and Wales over the past 12 months (94,098 offences), according to Home Office figures released last week.
There was a 40 per cent increase in religious hate crime over that same period, with 52 per cent targeted at Muslims and 12 per cent at Jews.
Spikes in hate crime closely followed particular events such as the EU Referendum, as well as various terrorist attacks.
Rashidat Hassan, from the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Just this summer, my four children went to Dagenham to spend a few days with a family friend. They came home and shared their experience.
“My 10-year-old boy told me they were going to the corner shop to get something, then all of a sudden they heard someone say ‘fucking terrorists…get the hell out of our country’.
“It was two men who just came out of their house. My children could actually see the hatred on their faces. It was just because my two daughters, my 15-year-old and my 13-year-old, had on headscarves”.
Hate Crime in Surrey
In Surrey, there has also been a 17 per cent increase in reported hate crime, with 1,393 incidents reported in 2016-17 and 1,631 reported in 2017-18, according to GetSurrey.
The county faced a 79 per cent increase in religiously motivated hate crime during that same period, with 90 incidents reported in 2016-17 and 161 reported in 2017-18.
There was a 43 per cent increase in hate crime relating to disability, an 18 per cent rise in offences relating to sexual orientation and a 12 per cent rise in offences relating to race.
The Conversation at Kingston
On 25 October, the Socialism Society at Kingston University held an event titled: In a world of Trump and the far-right…Is socialism possible?
Lewis Nielsen from the Socialist Worker Student Society, who hosted the discussion, said: “It is the oldest trick in the book for the establishment, in times of crisis, to whip up racism.
“Saying that women who wear the veil look like letterboxes encourages people like Tommy Robinson and the far right. When Boris said those comments, there was a spike in racist attacks against Muslim women”.
Peter Speroni, a 69-year-old Kingston student said: “I think it’s wrong to name people like Nigel Farage, making them bogeymen. We ought to cut their publicity off and not even mention them. I don’t think they’re worth the mention.”
Nielsen added: “The main reason people want someone to blame is because there’s not enough to go around.
“If we lived in a society…where people were put before profit, where we produced enough resources for everyone to live – to not be competing over wages, housing and so on, what we’d be doing is removing the material basis for racism.”