From Mark Metcalf
To: Paul Mezaros,
Hope not Hate
Reference – Scabbing
I am a subscriber to the Hope Not Hate magazine. I have also been an active anti-fascist for all my adult life stretching back to the mid to late 70s. My support for trade unionism stretches back even further to when I was at school. I therefore write to express my deep concerns at the language you employed in events surrounding the EDL demonstration on Saturday 12 October 2013 in Bradford, which living in Halifax is literally next door to me and where I have a number of friends.
Three years ago I was in Bradford when the EDL also organised a demonstration and there was a decent sized protest against them with a clear intent that the fascists would face physical opposition if the police attempted to allow them to march. I am sure you know this tactic, as No Platform and I believe it has historically proved to be the only effective one against fascists. I was, of the opinion, that Hope Not Hate believed that also to be the case. I think events in Bradford proved that is not so.
When I discovered that Hope Not Hate were playing a major role in organising events in Bradford on Friday 11 October I was concerned enough to write to one of your colleagues accusing your organisation of abandoning the principle of No Platform.
He was good enough to pass on my messages of concern and also to send me your replies which not only indicated that Hope Not Hate were not intent on mobilising opposition on the actual date of the EDL demonstration but were extremely critical of those who were – in particular, UAF, who I am not and never have been a member of. (Incidentally the UAF organised a peaceful protest on the 12th of October)
This correspondence degenerated into you accusing people (in an email dated 8 October) who intended attending on 12 October of scabbing – you were actually asked to clarify that is what you meant as the word was originally spelt inaccurately and you did so. I find the use of such a word to be a disgrace in this instance, as I do not believe you cannot be aware of its significance. It is a deliberate slur and one you need in my view to retract. I appreciate you may wish to make a distinction between the UAF and others like myself, but not only do I feel you should not accuse the UAF (which includes a good number of active, decent trade unionists I am happy to work with on a number of projects) of scabbing but I feel by implication you have accused everyone there on October 12th of scabbing. That is not something I personally will take lying down.
The decision not to try and mobilise people to oppose the EDL in Bradford sets a very dangerous precedent in my view. It also allows the state to impose increasing restrictions on anti-fascists and just for standing on a street corner around 500 yards from the EDL I was threatened with being arrested under section 14 of the Public Order Act. On a number of occasions the police attempted to ‘kettle’ the small group of friends I was with even though it was pretty clear we were hardly a bunch of street fighters and I am now fast approaching 54 years of age. Groups of Asian youth – who rightly came out onto the streets of their hometown - were constantly harassed. Even the possibility of giving some verbal abuse to the fascists was to be denied.
History shows that – and I am happy to demonstrate this to you if you are unfamiliar with it – the state cannot be relied upon to deal with the fascist threat. Oswald Mosley’s planned march through the east end of London in October 1936 would have gone ahead if the state and the police had had their way. Fortunately, thousands were mobilised and the fascists suffered a rout that helped defeat them long-term.
I ask you to apologise for your use of such language. I am intending making this letter public on my blog at www.writemark.blogspot.co.uk and I am happy to make available all correspondence on this, including any reply you may wish to make. The issue is too serious to just leave it.