(eng) ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Vol. 1, No. 6 [2/3]

Tom Burghardt (tburghardt@igc.apc.org)
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 01:10:59 +0200


which was addressed by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness. Amongst
those speaking on behalf of Saoirse that evening was Ronnie
McCartney, a former POW who spent over 20 years in English jails,
and Patricia Campbell, who's partner Peter Sherry was involved in
the Whitemoor escape attempt. Patricia announced the release of
600 Saoirse balloons, representing all Irish political prisoners
across Ireland, Britain and the USA. Each one was labelled with
the name of a political prisoner in England, the address of the
jail, and a message to the finder to write to the inmate.
Meanwhile a number of Saoirse members dressed as screws and
chained themselves to a 'blanketman' in a wheelchair, symbolising
the fate of Irish POW and cancer patient Pat Kelly. The Saoirse
activities ensured that the rally was a colourful affair, notable
for the percentage of Irish people present.

September 1: The 'Grand Benefit' evening at the Haringey
Irish Centre where Glasgow's Blarney Pilgrims had been booked to
play. However, as a packed hall buzzed with anticipation, the
news came through that the band was stranded on a train outside
London. Despite the initial disappointment, the people made the
best of the evening with an impromptu Republican karaoke!

September 2: London Saoirse Conference. The basis for the
conference was the recognition that although much progress had
been made over the preceding six months, the strategy had only
been intended for that limited period and now needed expanding.
We were also conscious of the fact that while Saoirse's
activities had at times mobilised relatively large numbers of
people, not all of the sponsoring organisations were pulling
their weight. It was still a small core of activists taking
responsibility for the organising of events.

Despite this being the third major event in three days, and
perhaps in that context being over-ambitious, all who took part
agreed that it was extremely useful. The workshops that took in
Future Activities, Lobbying and The Irish Community proved
fruitful in providing a large number of ideas and perspectives to
take the campaign forward in the coming months, as well as
gaining a number of willing new recruits.

The Saoirse campaign, although very much in its infancy and
only just beginning to realise its true potential has been
remarkably successful and has provided us with a glimpse of what
might yet be achievable on the 'Irish Question' in Britain. The
events over the 'Ceasefire' weekend saw a large number of
London's Irish come out in open support for the Liberation
movement, in what must be seen (while firmly keeping both feet on
the ground) as a significant breakthrough.

Obviously the IRA ceasefire which allowed them the moral
high ground and effectively drew the teeth of the PTA, along with
the respectability given by the 'broad Nationalist consensus'
have had a large effect psychologically on the Irish community.
And, as the so-called 'community leaders' and the conservative
consensus that they represent is challenged, then so this
confidence will grow. However, the Saoirse campaign must also
take credit for the way it has injected a dynamic into
campaigning around Ireland with an energy and imagination not
seen in this country for too long too remember.

These new opportunities though do not last forever and must
be grasped while they exist, we all have a responsibility to
ensure that they are not squandered. Old habits and working
practices, tried, tested and failed must be ditched; old
squabbles and sectarian battles cast aside. The Saoirse campaign,
of which we are all justifiably proud, has been built from
nothing. We all have a duty to the POWs, to their families, and
the wider struggle to ensure that it continues to consolidate and
expand; as a failure to do so might prove how easily it could
return to nothing.

LONDON SAOIRSE
PO Box 3923
London, NW5 1RA
England

(Note: This address is still active as London Saoirse is
being reorganized and will still continue to organize
support for the Irish POW's.)

(Reproduced from Red Action, Issue 72 - Autumn/Winter 1995)

*****

WHY IS THE NATIONAL PEACE COUNCIL PROMOTING FASCISM?

(This text is reproduced from a leaflet distributed in front of a
'Prospect for Peace in Northern Ireland' meeting in London last
year at which PUP (Progressive Unionist Party) member, Billy
Hutchinson spoke. Representing the political wing of the UVF
(Ulster Volunteer Force), self-proclaimed 'socialist' Hutchinson
also featured as the principle speaker at a meeting held by
Militant Labour in the north of Ireland entitled: "Is There a
Future for Socialism". A related leaflet, issued by the Colin
Roach Centre entitled: "Militant's Flirtation With Fascism",
accused Militant Labour of doing just that. - AF)

(...) Billy Hutchinson, (whose) main role is as a leading
spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) - this is
the political wing of the illegal loyalist terrorist organisation
the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The original UVF was formed in
1912 by Lord Carson and James Craig to oppose the democratic
decision by the British Government to grant Home Rule (a measure
of self-government to Ireland). The UVF was successful at this
time in attracting a mass membership, arming itself and indeed in
forcing the British to form a Protestant state for a Protestant
people' in the six countries which the British decided should
constitute 'Northern Ireland'. This rebellious armed militia was
assimilated into the British Army in 1914 as the 36th Ulster
Division.

In 1966, a group of Shankill Road loyalists began to use the
UVF name. In contrast to the earlier manifestation this UVF was
small and poorly organised. This did not prevent it from carrying
out a long and heinous campaign of sectarian murder against
Catholics. The man who led the new UVF was one Augustus 'Gusty'
Spence who coined the phrase "any taig will do!" By this he meant
that any Catholic, whether a Republican or not, would be in
danger of being murdered by the UVF. Following Spence's murder of
an innocent Catholic John Scullion on May 27th 1966 the UVF was
banned. Together with their murder campaign, UVF members and
members of Ian Paisley's Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPU)
carried out a series of explosions at public utilities and tries
to blame them on the then virtually non-existent Irish Republican
Army (IRA). This puts to rest the myth that Loyalist violence is
defensive and retaliatory only.

It was, during this first period of illegality that Billy
Hutchinson and two accomplices brutally stabbed to death Social
Democratic and Labour Party politician Paddy Wilson. In this
horrific attack, carried out in 1972, Mr Wilson's girlfriend
Irene McDonald had her breasts cut off by her UVF assailants. It
appears that the attackers were particularly incensed because
Irene McDonald was a Protestant.

The UVF, after briefly being legalised in April 1974 to
October 1975, continued its sectarian murder campaign with some
of the worst abominations of the 25 year war being committed by
UVF men. One particular murderer was Lenny Murphy of the Shankill
Butchers. On the 21st July 1972 they abducted Francis Arthurs, a
Catholic man, who was stabbed and beaten for over an hour before
being shot dead. Another Catholic Thomas Madden was hung upside
down in a garage and slowly skinned alive. When found he had a
total of 147 different slices of skin cut off. On October 3rd
1975 Murphy and his killers murdered five innocent customers at
an off licence. This brutality continued until February 20th 1979
when most of the leading gang members were convicted of murder.
Murphy, however, escaped a murder charge and was only convicted
of possession of firearms. He was released on July 16th 1982. By
October he had murdered another UVF man over a money quarrel.
Also in this month he abducted Joseph Donnegan, a Catholic who he
tortured and killed. Murphy's career of torture and murder was
finally curtailed when the IRA shot him dead in November 1982.

The PUP needless to say have never condemned any of the
UVF's bloodthirsty activity. Being centred around the Shankill
Road it has only ever had one councillor Hugh Smyth. It remains a
tiny fringe organisation. Some British 'left' groups of which
Militant Labour is the most prominent have fostered socialist
illusions in the PUP. There has been a tradition of calling for
more resources to go to the Protestant working class from such as
the PUP but usually these demands do not extend to working class
Catholics.

Any pro-state terror organisation which murders people
solely on the basis of religion to defend their own slightly more
privileged position should be labelled fascist. The UVF fits this
bill. Billy Hutchinson is a spokesperson for a fascist
organisation - the National Peace Council is promoting fascism.
It should be noted that only two years ago the UVF were extolling
the virtues of 'ethnic cleansing' in Northern Ireland.

Perhaps the PUP/UVF and Hutchison has changed now that there
is an outbreak of 'peace'? A likely story! When the UVF and UDA
(Ulster Defence Association) announced their ceasefire on October
13th 1994 the UVF veteran Gusty Spence apologised for the
killings of hundreds of uninvolved citizens but said they would
do it all again if the union was threatened.

The British Government and the Loyalist Parties in 'Northern
Ireland' are demanding that the IRA hand over their weapons
before all party talks commence. Even then there is no guarantee
that Sinn Fein will be included in such talks. What is not being
demanded is that the Loyalists hand over their weapons - there
are 132,500 legally held firearms in the six countries, the vast
majority held by loyalists. They are backed by 8,500 Royal Ulster
Constabulary full-time members, 3,200 reserves and over 18,000
British Army soldiers are still in 'residence.'

'Northern Ireland' remains in a 'state' at war. If members
of the National Peace Council are serious in ending this then
they should take up the progressive demands of 'British Troops
Out of Ireland' and 'Self Determination for the Irish People as a
Whole.' These represent the only long term prospect for peace.
Members and participants at tonight's meeting can make a start on
developing peace by demanding that Hutchison is denied access to
the platform and sent home in the knowledge that his fascist
politics are not welcome here.

For further information:

Colin Roach Centre
56 Clarence Road
London E5 8HB
England

[The Colin Roach Centre has also produced a pamphlet
entitled: "Anti-Nazi League - a critical examination of the
periods 1977-82 and 1992-95", available for $2.]

*****

ANTI-FASCIST ACTION -- TEN YEARS ON

Ten years ago 300 people met in a Central London hall to
discuss setting up a new anti-fascist organisation. The result
was the formation of Anti-fascist Action, "to oppose racism and
fascism physically on the streets and ideologically.

Since the Anti-Nazi League was closed down by the Socialist
Workers Party in 1981, there was no national organisation to
co-ordinate anti-fascist opposition despite the increasing number
of racist attacks and on-going targeting of left-wing activities.
There were small groups of anti-fascists around the country, but
these were isolated and coming under increasing pressure from the
police. AFA was formed to end the isolation and draw in larger
numbers to the anti-fascist movement. Initially the alliance of
'liberals' and 'militants' in AFA achieved results, certainly
anti-fascism was put back on the public agenda, and victories
over the NF at Stockport (1985) and Bury St. Edmunds (1986),
followed by the successful campaign to finish off the NF
Remembrance Day parades in Central London, showed our ability to
disrupt the fascists and gave anti-fascists increasing
confidence.

One of the things AFA has learnt is that effective
anti-fascism doesn't mean rigidly applying a set formula; tactics
and strategies need to adapt to changing circumstances. By 1989
AFA started to define itself as the militant wing of the
anti-fascist movement. We moved away from protest actions and
calls for the government and police to lead the fight against
fascism. We made it clear that we were not fighting fascism to
defend the status quo but because fascism is reactionary,
ultra-conservative, and anti-working class.

AFA's objective was to clear the fascists out of working
class areas and create the space for a progressive alternative to
be built. Armed with this new strategy AFA started to grow
rapidly, and the successful action against the BNP's "Rights for
Whites" campaign in East London (1990-91) was soon followed by
significant victories in the North West of England, Scotland, and
then the Midlands.

Once AFA had defined itself as 'militant anti-fascist' it
was important to give the militants an independent voice. The AFA
magazine, Fighting Talk, was launched to do this (1991) and the
hard-hitting AFA video, also called Fighting Talk, was shown on
BBC's Open Space in 1992, clearly showing the class nature of
fascism and the need for militant opposition.

However 1992 also saw the arrival of 'the Left' into the
anti-fascist arena, with the launch of the ANL, YRE and ARA.
Despite having abandoned anti-fascism for over 10 years, these
groups now decided they would 'lead' the movement. Their access
to large amounts of money, and sections of the media, allowed
them to 'flood the market' for a while, but in traditional 'left
wing' style, once the money and recruits dry up, they jump onto
another bandwagon. They have done considerable damage, though,
for where AFA challenged the traditional 'left wing' stereotype
(both politically and physically) they have simply presented soft
targets and soft politics. Their support for Labour, in places
like East London where Labour has presided over the area's
decline for years, while not promoting any challenge from the
Left, has merely helped the BNP present themselves as the
'radical' alternative.

The inability of the BNP to stage public events without
severe disruption - from Burnley (1993) to Bloxwich (1994), St.
Andrews Day (Glasgow 1991) to St. George's Day (Birmingham 1994)
-- has led them to declare there would be"...no more marches,
meetings, punch-ups..." (1994 Spearhead). This change of tactics
by the BNP has presented AFA with a new challenge, for if the
fascists have withdrawn from the physical arena, new forces need
to be created to challenge them politically. The space that AFA
has made hasn't been filled, and if it isn't filled by the Left,
it will be filled by the Right.

While the BNP adopt a low-key electoral strategy at present,
the threat of fascist violence has been taken up by C18. The
exact nature of this threat remains to be seen, but they have
recently taken control of the nazi music organisation Blood and
Honour. Blood and Honour tried to operate openly but were smashed
by AFA at Hyde Park Corner (1989) and the famous Battle of
Waterloo (1992), and so now their gigs are highly secretive and
therefore less effective. AFA has also used music to spread the
anti-fascist message, initially with Cable St. Beat, the Unity
Carnivals (1991-93), and more recently the club-based Freedom of
Movement.

C18 is also involved in recruiting at football, and this
challenge is being met by AFA, with supporters at Celtic, and
then Manchester United, giving a lead. European links are growing
with the Hamburg club St. Pauli and Athletico Bilbao. AFA has
developed international political contacts with many groups,
especially in Europe and North America, and is actively involved
in ending the isolation of militant anti-fascist groups - this
task being more urgent since the German state's attempts to
criminalise and destroy the militants from Gottingen.

AFA is well organised, controlled by the activists, has
experience and ambition, and above all a plan. Join us.

AFA
BM 1734
London WC1N 3XX
England

(Source: Fighting Talk #12, November 1995)

*****

THE INDEPENDENT WORKING CLASS ASSOCIATION

"The Independent Working Class Association [IWCA] has been
established to promote and celebrate the political independence
of the working class and to pursue the political and economic
interests of that class, with no consideration for, and
regardless of consequence to the existing political and economic
structures." (founding statement, 21 October 1995)

In June 1994, the media reported that Labour had recruited
only 6,000 trade unionists from the 4,000,000 political levy
payers offered a vote in the leadership poll. Since then Labour
has recruited well in excess of its 80,000 target figure. But if
they are not trade unionists, who are they? Activists within the
Socialist Workers Party who will be campaigning for Labour at the
next election already know the answer. "All the indications are
that the electoral support and possible membership emerges from
the thoroughly rattled middle classes and not from the working
class at all." Former deputy leader Roy Hattersly concurs: "we
live in the age of the almost universal middle class what they
want from a political party is prudent compassion. The near
unanimous support for cautious altruism is an electoral
blessing."

Labour, a middle class party for middle class people. This
is the moment of truth for the entire British Left. Will it
continue with the pretence that Tory vs. Labour represents the
very essence of class conflict, while bemoaning the fact that
'socialism' has been abandoned or take advantage of that fact?
It's make your mind up time.

LESSER EVIL

Like the Left the working class is increasingly split into
pro and anti-Labour camps. And as with the working class only the
former are organised. The first step toward reaching the
unorganised working class is to organise the unorganised
anti-Labour Left. Many working class people are increasingly
alienated from Labour. The strategy of the far right is entirely
reliant on this alienation. However it is not the job of working
class militants to mend this relationship. On the contrary, the
task is to make the break permanent. Labour's arrogant contempt
in regard to its former constituency is based on the belief that
there is no possibility of an alternative to them, and so the
working class will be forced to vote for them as 'the lesser
evil' regardless. "The least advantaged - and in some ways the
least attractive members of society will undoubtedly vote Labour
whatever the party does." (Roy Hattersley, April 1994)

CONSERVATIVE LEFT

One consequence of this analysis, is that their left flank
is glaringly vulnerable. Many organisations to Labour's Left
defend their repeated failure to attack this flank on the grounds
that: a) 'Labour is a step to the left' b) 'we are too small to
stand against them' c) 'we are the socialist alternative'.

While such organisations present themselves as radical, they
are on the wrong side of this natural demarcation line. The one
consistent message of the conservative Left is that a politically
independent working class is not only impossible -- but --
undesirable.

As sponsors of The Independent Working Class Association we
disagree. Now more than ever what is needed is a politically
independent working class organisation. The setting up of such an
organisation is the only practical response to the situation we
are faced with; the total abandonment, even as a concept of the
working class by Labour.

For without organisation the working class has no voice.
Without a voice there can be no resistance. Without resistance,
the British working class fulfils the role ordained for it by the
establishment and becomes politically extinct.

CLEAN BREAK

The IWCA is distinct from anything that exists in Britain
now or in the recent past. A working class organisation not only
independent, but hostile to Labour. It will seek to absorb and
unite groups (without demanding that they abandon their distinct
positions or organisations) and accommodate individuals on the
basis of that platform, while aspiring to be a pole of attraction
to the tens of thousands of working class militants who long
despaired of the Left ever doing anything worthwhile.

The IWCA will be a clean break with the past and will be
seen to be so. From the outset it will be clear that we have
rejected entryism and the prospect of reform, be that reform of
Labour or the economic system. We will not orientate or seek
solace from the official 'labour movement'. Trade unionism as a
strategy for total social change is no longer vaguely credible.
Instead the IWCA will be community orientated and in time
community based. It will be led by the working class but not
limited to the working class. Essentially it will be a can do
organisation; an organisation that can make things happen or
prevent them happening. Membership will be openly available and
its activists will join with those fighting to achieve immediate
results in the interests of the working class.

SELF-DETERMINATION

At the heart of the IWCA lies the concept of working class
self-determination. Therefore the question of a political
programme does not arise as this would mean the collective will
of the sponsors being imposed in advance. In time, following an
appropriate period of common activity a programme will be
hammered out in day to day confrontation with the practical needs
of the class who will in turn play a key role in the development
of that programme. Initiating a dialogue with local working
communities will in many cases determine the immediate
priorities.

The Labour party has arrogantly thrown the gauntlet to the