Luton: antifascists outnumber EDL as it launches new party
The English Defence League’s planned ‘celebration’ of its three years of existence turned sour as they were outnumbered by antifascists in Luton on Saturday 5 May. The EDL claims Luton as its home town, but only around 800 or so supporters turned out for a rally held behind a huge steel fence that degenerated as drunken thugs – who had been allowed to assemble in pubs that opened specially at 8.30am – threw bottles at police and set off fireworks and smoke bombs. That number is far below the 2,500-3,000 supporters it bussed into Luton last year and marks the success of antifascists in containing the threat of the EDL’s racist and fascist thugs at a series of demonstrations around the country in the past three years. (…) Meanwhile, the antmosphere at the antifascist UAF and We Are Luton demo was very different, with music and a lively, youthful crowd of black, white and Asian people from a range of backgrounds, proud to stand together against the racists and fascists.
Side by side Trade unionists stood side by side with members of the local Muslim community, which has been particularly targeted by the EDL. Up to 2,000 demonstrators took part with local people joining the march as it went along and turning out for to the final rally. Banners on display included Stevenage trades council, PCS Eastern region, Harlow TUC, Luton TUC, Luton NUT and USDAW Welham branches, along with a fine display of flags and ‘racists beware’ placards from trade union Unite. The demo against the EDL was backed nationally by the TUC, while East of England MEP Richard Howitt, Luton MPs Kelvin Hopkins and Gavin Shuker and a number of local councillors joined the march from Bury Park – where many of Luton’s Muslim community live – into the town centre.