Workers Hammer No. 212

Autumn 2010


Partisan Defence Committee

Defend anti-fascist protesters!

On 7 September, Martin Smith, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party and Unite Against Fascism (UAF), was outrageously found guilty of assaulting a police officer at the October 2009 protest against the BNP when its leader Nick Griffin appeared on BBC’s Question Time. Other anti-fascist protesters are facing criminal charges for their involvement in demonstrations against the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL). At least five protesters including UAF leaders Weyman Bennett and Rhetta Moran will be hauled into court in October potentially facing charges of “conspiracy to incite violent disorder” stemming from the protest against the EDL in Bolton last March (see

This harassment by the state is nothing other than an attempt to intimidate anti-fascists into silence and passivity. Charges of “conspiracy” enable the state to repress opposition without evidence of any criminal activity. Conspiracy laws are used against trade unionists and leftists in order to round up, prosecute and jail anyone the state perceives as an enemy. The trade unions, minority organisations and the left — all intended targets of the fascists — must rally behind those accused and demand all charges be dropped immediately.

During its 13-year reign Labour’s relentless pursuit of the racist “war on terror” against Muslims nurtured fascism, spawning the EDL which mobilises racist scum on the basis of anti-Muslim bigotry. Since summer 2009 the EDL has staged provocative racist demonstrations up and down the country, targeting Muslims. The EDL was set up by BNP members/ex-members and organised through networks of football hooligans.

As we wrote in “Fascists feed on Labour government racism” (Workers Hammer no 209, Winter 2009-2010):

“It is in the interests of the multiethnic working class as a whole to combat these racist terrorists. We call for trade union/ minority mobilisations to stop fascist provocations. At the same time, as Marxists we make clear that the decaying capitalist system breeds the social conditions in which the fascists thrive and therefore the struggle against fascism is inseparable from the fight for socialist revolution.”

Our understanding of the need to link the fight against fascism to the struggle to overthrow the capitalist order distinguishes our programme from the SWP’s reformism. Mobilising the social power of the trade unions to defend immigrants, minorities and the working class requires a political struggle against the Labourite trade union bureaucracy, which has kept the unions on their knees before the capitalists’ attacks. It is necessary to combat politically the chauvinist poison expressed in the “British jobs for British workers” strikes last year which most of the “left” (and the BNP) supported.

We print below a 4 September letter from the Partisan Defence Committee (PDC) — a class-struggle, legal and social defence organisation associated with the Spartacist League — to the South Western Magistrates Court and the Ministry of Justice, protesting the prosecution of Martin Smith. The PDC has contributed to the defence fund for the Bolton anti-fascists and encourages others to do the same. Make cheques payable/send to: AFDC (Anti-Fascist Defence Campaign), PO Box 56959, London N10 9AZ.

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We demand charges be dropped against Unite Against Fascism officer and Socialist Workers Party organiser Martin Smith. Charged with assaulting a police officer, Smith is due to appear in court on 7 September. The charge, which Smith denies, stems from the protest outside the TV studios when the BBC’s Question Time obscenely provided a platform for fascist BNP leader Nick Griffin last October.

Smith’s arrest and prosecution reflect the racist capitalist state’s efforts to criminalise protest against the fascists. The BBC programme at which Smith was arrested displayed fascist Griffin sparring with representatives of the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat parties squarely on the BNP’s terrain of virulent anti-immigrant racism, each arguing over who is to “blame” for immigration.

The Con-Dem government is today preparing savage economic attacks on the working class which will fan the flames of anti-immigrant chauvinism, lending a hand to the BNP/EDL and their ilk. We demand: Hands off anti-fascist protesters! Drop the charges against Martin Smith!