On 3 December, walking through Trafalgar Square on my way home from the anti-Trump demonstration, I noticed an SWP stall that had been turned upside down.
Skinheads, police, and SWP members were nearby. The SWP were asking the police. “Aren’t you going to do anything, he just knocked over our stall?” The police looked unsure of what to do.
Three people were jeering and doing Nazi salutes at the SWP. One got close enough to an SWP member and appeared to hit him and kick him to the ground. The police still looked unsure whether to intervene.
Although maybe 50+ years old and a little inebriated, the skinheads looked quite strong. It didn’t look like the police would have found it easy to arrest them.
I felt a sense of solidarity with the SWP members involved. Any left wing activist could be on the receiving end next time. I tried to talk with the SWPers about how serious it is that the right wing are bold enough to attack us in full view of the police.
The SWPers said: “Well, the police aren’t there to protect us anyway”.
That’s true. The police are an arm of the capitalist state. But that’s not a reason to shrug off the problem. If we know that we can’t rely on the police to protect us from a newly emboldened right wing, we need to ask who can we rely on.
Currently, the left and workers’ movement is not organised to defend its activity from fascists. We urgently need to develop a strategy for self-defence.