Welsh Defence League Counter Protest

17th October 2009

The fascist and racist Welsh Defence League (WDL) in their first outing in Wales suffered a major setback in Swansea on Saturday.

In reality, they are a Welsh offshoot of the English Defence League. For weeks they declared their intention to protest against alleged Islamic extremism, in a city with a relatively small mainstream Muslim community. Originally this was to be outside the Mosque but just days before the protest, they changed the time and place to 4pm in the Castle Square in the city centre. A committee was set up of various groups, inlcuding the Socialist Party and Unite against Fascism. Despite the police, sending out misinformation about the time and place of the counter protest, from 1pm at least 350-500 of us dwarfed the 60 WDL assortment of thugs and football hooligans who eventually left the pub which they'd been stationed in for hours. The crowd surged forward and left the big Police presence with the only option to 'kettle' the WDL in the main road above but not inside the square. A stand off lasted for over a hour until the WDL were escorted away.

This victory will give anti-racist campaigners in Swansea and throughout Wales, many of whom were young people, real confidence that the threat of the WDL as well as the BNP can be successfully challenged. It was noticeable that quite a few of the WDL had come form out of town. Also despite the BNP trying to distance itself from them, known BNP members were present on their protest.

The Socialist Party had an excellent intervention. Our speakers in the rally gave a class alternative to the racist intimidation of the WDL. As Rob Williams, reinstated Unite Convenor at Linamar said, "What are the WDL defending us from? We in Linamar, the postal workers and those facing attack in the public sector have their own defence leagues - our trade unions. Workers can't defend ourselves from the attacks of the employers if we are divided." Mike John, who is helping to organise against the WDL's next protest in Newport this saturday, called for everyone to join their counter protest. He told the victory rally, "Let's have a similar number in John Frost Square (named after a leading Chartist) next week as we have had in Castle Square this week."
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