An English Defence League “national demonstration” of around 200 marched through Middlesbrough on Saturday 28 June.
A counter-demonstration of 250 assembled before their march, took a route through the centre of town and heard speeches from trade unionists, black community activists and local anti-fascists.
The response was organised by Teesside Solidarity Movement through a series of democratic and open co-ordinations. This marks further breaks from the Unite Against Fascism model of doing anti-fascist activity in the North East.
In Newcastle, anti-fascist marches are held under the banner of “Newcastle Unites”, who operate through a secret committee of Labour councillors and the Socialist Workers Party. In May 2013, 14 anti-fascists were arrested before a Newcastle Unites demo. The evidence points towards collusion between the march organisers and the police.
In Teesside, however, the situation is healthier. An increasing caucus of those involved recognise that there is more to effective anti-fascism than simply outnumbering our opponents and claiming it as a victory.
We need to build the confidence to confront and prevent the EDL from doing what they want. While we were unable to do this in Middlesbrough, the way it was organised at least offers the opportunity for alternative tactics and politics to be discussed and adopted.