Undeterred by their embarrassing day out in January, fascists are once again holding an anti-immigration demonstration in Dover, set to take place on 2 April. Antifascists, led by Kent Anti-Racism Network, are staging a ‘No Neo-Nazis in Dover’ counter-demonstration. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened since January:
Police operations are stepping up.
On 30 January, the last round of Dover demonstrations, the policing operation totally failed to separate and contain the two sides. Huge clashes followed, with bricks and punches being traded between fascists and antifascists in the centre of Dover for most of the day.
Since then, however, evidence gathering and arrests as part of ‘Operation Skep‘ have been picking up pace. Following criticism from the local Conservative MP over the policing on the day, and his repeated calls to ban future fascist and antifascist demonstrations, Kent Police seem to have made up for their failures on the day with an intensive follow-up operation.
Over 30 have now been arrested for alleged offences relating to clashes in Dover on that day, with the balance of charges unevenly, although not entirely, distributed towards the fascists. Recently a fascist was jailed for carrying a lock knife on 30 January, and he will presumably only be the first of many.
Bail conditions appear to be being used to keep all those charged very far away from Dover this weekend, and away from street political activity generally. This means the street fighting hardcore of the fascist movement will unable to lead the charge in Dover against antifascist opposition, but also that the stage is set for much greater police attention this time round.
Antifascists are on the front foot.
Since 30 January, the antifascist movement has been doing a good job of keeping a lid on the far right, even as it looked like lots of the small splinter groups were preparing to engage in a campaign of street violence. In the wake of defeats in Dover, Liverpool and Swansea, the ‘unity’ that brought together a neo-Nazi coalition last time has fallen apart.
The South East Alliance and Pie and Mash Squad (yes, they’re actually called the Pie and Mash Squad) are much more isolated in their support for this demonstration. The North West Infidels, National Action and National Front all seem to be steering clear this time round. A potent combination of lots of arrests, lots of failed demos and lots of antifascist opposition have led to increasing division and demoralisation. In a period where the far right are doing well across much of Europe, British fascists are really struggling to keep things going, let alone recruit.
But it’s difficult to tell beforehand what kind of networked affinity group mobilisation is going on under the surface. Given the collapse of far right organisations, a lot of their mobilisation will rest on groups of friends deciding to travel to Dover or not on the day. But if I had to judge the mood, I’d say it feels a lot less like the run up to a big day out, and a lot more like a big flop.
Antifascist Network and Kent Anti-Racism Network are, on the contrary, looking more stable and able to mobilise. This Saturday will be a chance for them to press their advantage.
‘They’re all the same’.
The biggest political challenge of the upcoming demo is to emphatically make the point that there is a difference between seig-heiling neo-Nazis and antifascists. The Dover Express, amongst others, has been incredibly quick to try and skim over the colossal differences between ‘far-right thugs and antifascist yobs’.
If this round of the ongoing Dover confrontations can make clear that antifascists are supporting migrants and refugees, involved in ongoing solidarity projects, and actually decent human beings, then it will be a success. The challenge is to show the difference between community self-defence against fascism and fascist hate mobs having it large and chanting about Hitler.
Kent Anti Racism Network will be holding a demonstration at 11am.
Fascists are expected to meet at Dover Priory train station at midday, and a contingent are likely to be dressed in black bloc. They will be on trains into the town throughout the morning, so preferably avoid travelling by train to the demonstration. Coaches are running from London, Brighton, and Hastings.
Photo: RT Ruptly/YouTube
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