On Saturday, November 21st, the racist English Defence League, masquerading as the Welsh Defence League, held a demonstration in Wrexham town centre. The ‘official Welsh Defence League’ demonstration comprised 30 football hooligans from Bolton and a mere half a dozen local racists.
More than 150 Wrexham socialists, shoppers, and working people opposed the racist demonstrators, who amounted to no more than forty in total, and who must be all too aware now that they are not welcome in Wrexham.
Report by Dylan Roberts
The people of Wrexham were already hostile to the EDL, but tensions increased after the racist demonstrators unfurled a large English flag, sang God Save The Queen, and chanted racist slogans suck as “kill the Muslims”.
“This is our town and you are not welcome here!"
One woman, laden with shopping bags, summed up the feelings of the whole town when she stood her ground as the EDL tried to rush the much larger, and by this stage extremely hostile, audience of working people and shouted; “This is our town and you are not welcome here”! There was an extremely high Police presence around the pub, and four members of the EDL were arrested for public order offences.
Meanwhile, Wrexham Communities Against Racism held a communities celebration in Queens Square, in the centre of town. This aimed to bring together all sections of our community in celebration of the social cohesion evident in our peaceful working-class town. More than 300 people throughout the day attended the celebration, despite the torrential rain.Those at the celebration enjoyed music from local musicians, a drumming workshop, a martial arts exhibition, poetry, a children’s carousel, and speeches from a wide range of politicians, community leaders, and activists, amongst other acts and speakers. The event was entirely peaceful and great fun, with people dancing in the rain, and even a conga line around the square! The contrast between the communities’ celebration and the much smaller racist demonstration up the road could not have been more apparent.
Amongst the speakers on the day were Dave Reid, regional secretary of Socialist Party Wales, who talked of the need to create a new political voice for working people that would cut across the divisive racism of the EDL and the far right, and Rae Lewis-Ayling, of Bangor Socialist Party and Youth Fight for Jobs, who spoke on behalf of Youth Fight for Jobs on the disproportionate burden placed on young people by the crisis of capitalism, and encouraged an extremely appreciative, if wet, audience to head down to London for the forthcoming YFJ march. I had the pleasure of closing the event, but by this stage, drenched with rain and, frankly, elated, I could manage little more than expressing my pride and admiration of the communities of Wrexham, both at the communities’ celebration and opposite the EDL demo, who had braved awful conditions in huge numbers to make it clear that they would not allow the EDL to spread their message of division and hate here. Our Socialist Party stall, given pride of place at the celebration, was busy throughout the day, as workers and young people spoke about the inequality evident in our society that feeds racism, and the need to build a new workers’ party to overcome racism and inequality.The communities’ celebration was a tremendous success, and has galvanised the local communities to the extent that there is now huge popular support to host an annual event! By contrast, the English Defence League were heavily outnumbered and opposed at their demonstration, not by anti-racist campaigners but by ordinary working people, and were shown up as the violent racists that they are.
The message from Saturday was clear: The English/Welsh Defence League is not welcome in Wrexham or in Wales.
I am proud that Socialist Party Wales played such a leading role in organising opposition to the E/WDL in Wrexham, just as we did in Newport and Swansea, and I am particularly proud that the working people of Wrexham needed little encouragement, despite Police and press scaremongering, to come out in huge numbers and make their views on the E/WDL and racism clear: Not in our town!