John McDonnell has called for the launch of a new movement to fight back against racism and the rise of the far-right in the UK.
With reference to Tommy Robinson supporters, the recent attack on a socialist bookshop and Boris Johnson’s comments about the burqa, the Shadow Chancellor tweeted last night that it could be time for “an AntiNazi League type cultural and political campaign”.
With the scale of Tommy Robinson demos, the storming of Bookmarks bookshop, & now Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments, we can no longer ignore the rise of far right politics in our society. Maybe it’s time for an AntiNazi League type cultural and political campaign to resist.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) August 6, 2018
This morning McDonnell reiterated his call for action and said anti-racist campaigners should take inspiration from the Anti-Nazi League. The ANL was originally set up by the Socialist Workers Party in 1977, later merging to create Unite Against Fascism.
In a statement released today, McDonnell said: “With the scale of Tommy Robinson demonstrations, the storming of Bookmarks bookshop, and now Boris Johnson’s Islamophobic comments, we can no longer ignore the rise of far right politics in our society.
“Maybe it’s time for an Anti-Nazi League type cultural and political campaign to resist.
“The Anti-Nazi League was an iconic movement over several decades that successfully combated the far right through the mass mobilisation of trade unionists and anti-racist campaigners.
“The ANL pioneered highly influential cultural movements like the Rock Against Racism, which attracted tens of thousands of people of all ages to anti-racist festivals and protests.
“We should seriously look at emulating the work of the ANL and Rock Against Racism at a time when the far right once again poses a genuine threat to our society.”
The Shadow Chancellor has been criticised online by Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, and the Mail on Sunday‘s Dan Hodges.
McDonnell believes – and says so – that true democracy is on the streets. This seemingly well meaning tweet needs to be seen in that context. In government, “the street“ would be a key weapon in the hard left armoury https://t.co/6qkKeGUJKK
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) August 7, 2018
One other thing. The John McDonnell who is (rightly) condemning the storming of Bookmarks bookshop is the same John McDonnell who described the storming of Millbank Tower as “the best of our movement”.
— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) August 7, 2018
But left-wing activists including Tom Gann, co-editor of the New Socialist website, defended McDonnell’s suggestion.
Yes. The fact McDonnell isn’t so fetishistically wedded to dogmatic parliamentarianism that he rejects useful Anti-fascist tactics can only be a good thing. https://t.co/IGY65Etd2n
— Tom Gann (@Tom_Gann) August 7, 2018