Across Britain last weekend, far-right elements and transphobes of various stripes were threatening to organise in large numbers. Several rs21 members took part in activity against them and report back on some of the actions.
Counter demo at the Honor Oak pub, London.
South London stands up in numbers
Turning Point UK, the embarrassing moribund cousin of the US far-right Turning Point, had threatened to disrupt a drag event at the Honor Oak pub in Lewisham. In response, the London Anti Fascist Assembly along with locals called for a demonstration against them.
Around 500 counter-protesters arrived early on Saturday the 25th, initially on the pavements outside the pub. As their numbers became too great, they took to the road, and traffic was closed to it. There were families, people wearing NEU Lewisham tabards, and many masked up to confront the fascists. Apart from the occasional fascist streamer who would antagonise the crowd with cameras before being swiftly moved on, there was no sign of the far right.
Then, on cue, around 15 far-right activists assembled 100 metres up the road from the pub. Given how pathetic their turnout was compared to the hundreds of counter-protesters, it was likely the fascists could have been run off then.
Due to the combination of a desire to protect the pub, uncertainty that the 15 people were the full extent of the far right, and the static speeches organised by Stand Up to Racism, the crowd was slow to move up the road to confront the far right. As a result, the police formed a cordon between the hundreds of antifascists and the Turning Point runt demonstration. The police desperately tried to defend the far right, on several occasions attempting to move the antifascists back, but we held strong.
Turning Point UK’s pathetic attempts at speeches were drowned out by booing, chants of ‘you’re not a real vicar’ at ‘star speaker’ Calvin Robinson, and suggestions that the fascists were scared of panto. Soon, the Turning Point contingent, were marched off flanked by police officers who far outnumbered them.
In the end, the crowd cheered and many stayed to enjoy the party atmosphere at the Honor Oak, after a well attended drag event and a lot of community solidarity.
Transphobes out of Hyde Park
On Sunday Transgender Action Block called a demonstration against the latest monthly event organised by Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, a transphobic activist who goes by the alias ‘Posie Parker’ and who has several documented links with the far-right. Parker has appeared on the French-Canadian far-right nationalist Jean-François Gariépy’s YouTube, a character who argues for a ‘white ethno-state’. Her rallies, most recently in Glasgow, have regularly attracted a host of British far-right characters, including several prominent ex-BNP members. HOPE not hate singled out Parker in their 2023 ‘State of Hate’ report for her role in the alignment of transphobic forces with those of the traditional fascistic right. Parker represents the nexus by which far right conservatives and transphobes are increasingly coming together in their activity. It is crucial that antifascists and trans liberation activists mobilise to break this developing unity.
In that spirit, around 150 antifascists assembled in Hyde Park to call for an end to this regular transphobia. Once assembled, the activists marched over, outnumbering the transphobes around two to one. Initially, there were not enough police to defend the 100 transphobes. After a few attempts to push through, more police arrived and the transphobes remained protected by a semi-circle of police standing shoulder to shoulder with them.
This developed into a protracted back and forth between the groups. Several transphobes would walk around trying to film and harass comrades, with antifascist crews blocking them and moving them on. Many of the transphobes, particularly the men in the crowd, engaged in transphobic abuse of those surrounding them. This included one of their number proclaiming that he was a nazi at the activists surrounding them. With music and chants, we attempted to drown out their hate.
After a long back and forth, the transphobes retreated. Police then began quite aggressively handling activists to prevent them following, forming a barrier as the transphobes left. Overall, those committed to trans liberation were dancing at the end in victory. However, it was worrying that the action in Hyde Park brought fewer people than Saturday’s struggle against Turning Point UK. Both were crucial nexus points in the fight against the far right in London – next time they assemble, let’s make it even bigger.
Convergence of the far right and transphobes
With the recent uptick in far-right, anti-refugee, conspiracist and transphobic street actions of varying sizes, the strategic question facing the movement is how to build up mass counter demonstrations to face them down now while they’re still only getting small numbers out. As in Honor Oak, local resistance will be key, especially as the right are generally choosing targets in local areas rather than marching on Downing Street. We’re not starting from scratch, and many activists have done excellent groundwork. To build up numbers, we need to keep making liberatory and radical arguments to build the necessary coalitions and give people a reason to show up. The Feminist Anti-Fascist Assembly’s strategy in 2018 is a useful point of reference, particularly as the DFLA also claimed to be ‘defending women’ at the time.
The far-right in Britain seems to have two tactics at present; actions targeting queer events and those focused on migrant hotel detention. Transphobes have shown themselves as repeatedly willing to align with the traditional far right, marking a major convergence of their forces. That means the struggle against transphobes, as groups like Transgender Action Block rightly recognise, is increasingly one against the far-right in Britain in general.
Antifascism is inseparable from the struggle for trans liberation, as well as the fight against borders and xenophobia. Together, we can drive these forces off our streets.