l to r Khalid Mahmood MP, Birmingham Perry Barr, Adrian Goldberg, Editor, The Stirrer, John Hemming MP, Birmingham Yardley
Yet another meeting took place at Birmingham Council House yesterday (23/8/2009) to discuss the clash between the English Defence League and anti-fascist demonstrators on 8th August. This one attracted two MPs, John Hemming and Khalid Mahmood, and two prominent councillors, Salma Yaqoob (Respect Birmingham) and Judy Foster (Dudley and the Police Committee). There was no one from the Tories available on the platform.
Also on the platform was Chief Inspector Adrian Atherley, head of West Midlands Police’s “diversity and community cohesion unit”. If he’s the head of this unit I suggest it is inappropriately named since the police policy of allowing the gathering of a group of people from Luton, where they have already been banned, was bound to lead to anything other than cohesion. The meeting representing around 80 people across the political and cultural spectrum unanimously agreed with Luton’s approach. The Chief Inspector continued to insist that the EDL and UAF had the right to exercise a peaceful gathering while some of their supporters resorted to violence.
Salma Yaqoob made it very clear to the Chief Inspector that he had been warned of the possibility of trouble arising. She emphasised that Mosques and parents had discouraged young Muslims from attending, but faced with the provocative message that the EDL in common with the BNP insisted on making it was unrealistic to expect a different outcome.
At the beginning of the meeting Adrian Goldberg, Editor or the Stirrer, gave a very clearly argued proposal for the idea of “Birmingham United” which would be a gathering of people to celebrate our cohesive multicultural society at the time members of the EDL were due to gather. This too met with unanimous approval.
While the idea of Birmingham United is excellent and very necessary in itself it is not sufficient. I reminded the meeting that it was no accident that the West Midlands had no BNP representative in Europe since many, led by the UAF, had leafleted areas where there were BNP candidates up for election. Birmingham City Council too had succeeded in keeping the BNP away, apart from an unfortunate lapse in procedure on one occasion, quickly corrected. It would be good if Birmingham United could persuade others to help in this activity.
Even more important is to recognise the structural nature of fascism as being part and parcel of the economic system which is supported by all three main political parties. As with the situation following the comparable economic collapse in the nineteen thirties, conditions for the rise of fascism are in place. This doesn’t even come up for discussion.
The Socialist Labour Party challenges the roots of fascism.