‘The Riots Documentary’ – Developments 1 – The Socialist Workers Party and the English Defence League

Note: The ‘UK Uncut Documentary’ has now been renamed, due to developments in the production of this artefact.

In the first few weeks of starting university, I decided to get investigating into the politics of my own university’s union. However, there had been a recent change-around of those who represented us, and everything was rather hectic (especially with a new building to contend with on top of that!).

A big break through came completely out of the blue on a Saturday afternoon whilst shopping – I saw a stand where anti-fascist papers were being sold. A fellow student named Trish, whom I’d previously met at the London protest march last year, was also at the stand. I bought a paper and told her that I’d like to know more. The ‘know more’ part came in the form of a trip to Birmingham to a talk entitled ‘Marx: Crisis and Revolution’.

I started to look into the party that Trish was representing – the SWP (or Socialist Worker’s Party) has been around since the 1950s, and has been one of the biggest players of social revolution in the country for over half a century.

I asked about UK Uncut, and it was apparent that everyone, including the SWP, were uniting under that banner. We all seemed to be on the same side, and all in agreement that the best way to inspire a country was to make our numbers as big as possible – with the enemies of our enemy being our friends, groups seemed all too happy to put aside previous differences and unite. The link to the site, and moreover to their ideologies, can be found here.

One definitive enemy seemed to come out of the SWP discussion as well however, in the form of the English Defence League (or EDL). The EDL are effectively the BNP of the modern day – a unit of people namely of 100,000 members strong, set firmly against Islam, and Islamic influence within England. They have also adopted the ‘skin head’ image. Their site can be found here.

The site claims that they are all for peaceful protesting, yet many news articles – and indeed the SWP themselves – seem to disagree, and say that at almost every EDL demonstration, their protests turn to violence and aggression. If we are to compare the EDL to the BNP, then they are simply labelled in the simplest form as a racist movement. Many protest groups seem to be at odds with them – they’re all up for uniting, but they wont protest violently simply for the sake of it, and nor will they accept in swaying their ideals towards racism or sexism (and to do so would surely go against the idea of unity in the first place).

The EDL are also a right-wing party – they’re campaigning so the government gets more power, to destroy mosques and commit to actions deemed ‘racist’ in the current society. The EDL is a group I will have to be aware of when I go to any further riots – especially as people of Asian ethnicity seem to purposefully turn up to fight the EDL, get into a scrap, and generally make a huge mess. In recent news, two EDL members were stabbed to death by Asian youths. Whoever strikes first at these protests, it is clear that the ideologies of both sides are of violent retribution against the opposing team – in essence, even though the EDL may stand for peaceful revolution, violence is almost unavoidable given their reputation and their ideals.

Here is a video, surely not featuring a representative of the party, but certainly a video that went viral on Youtube and has become representative of the party on online platforms:

The talk in Birmingham was given by a man called Michael, who gave a sort-of none-academic lecture on ‘Marxism in the modern day’ for the working classes of society. Two things he said struck a nerve:

  1. Protests alone will not make a difference. We need mass action across the country to make a difference – the aim was to inspire people to take action alongside them.
  2. To change this one government would not make any lasting difference either – we would need to take out the succeeding government, and most probably the one after that as well.


 

The SWP has always stood for the working class, and evidently still stands by them to this day. It was like looking back into my own past to a certain degree – I have been born out of the working class on the back of a council estate, to ascend the ranks of academia and learn of the power of media and the internet. It appears I have now returned to fight alongside the working classes side by side.

The sense of unity – and moreover, ‘family’ – was quite potent throughout the meeting. I was expecting an army of nut cases and left-wing extremists. Instead, I found just normal people. Hardly any ‘Bob Marleys’ or ‘Johnny Rottens’ to speak of. These were just the normal working class, who had decided to unite and take a stand against the government’s corruption. And since we know so much about that sort of thing nowadays, who could blame them?

They were very friendly and accommodating, and all seemed to have been to numerous protests, marches and riots in their time. I was surprised how old most of them were as well – the protest march I went on was full of students, and it’s usually youths who get blamed for all the violence. There was an eclectic age variation within the the SWP – mostly between students and workers. This was further evidence of the unity between the different groups currently wanting to take action against the financial plans our government is putting into place.

This unity is a good thing for my FMP – I should be able to give a voice to the SWP, but now also to many other protesting groups that are joining in the protests alongside them. Moreover, I could focus my FMP on the SWP alone and still make a good documentary – their members are plentiful in stories and experiences, and I believe that seeing the protests through their eyes and through their own experiences would be a good way to show the riots from a different perspective. However, I am wary of my FMP becoming a propaganda film for a group – SWP or otherwise. I have asked to council with the chief documentary lecturer on my course for his advice.

In the mean time, I plan to join up with the SWP. If I am to make my film well, I have no doubt that I am going to need their help in one way or another sooner or later. I am more than happy to promote them, and assist in the curation of an SWP party within the CUSU. After speaking with Michael at the talk, he enticed me into becoming a member of the SWP. £10 was a fair amount to part with given my current financial situation, but I considered it a firm investment. The SWP have my vote, and I’m sure my services will come in handy for them in the upcoming months. I have become known to them as what they call a ‘comrade’ – a term which, on a given day, may also be compared to a ‘brother in arms’.

November seems to be a busy month in particular:

November 5th – A re-created Jarrow Crusade will arrive and culminate in London at the Houses Of Parliament.

November 9th – The NUS has sanctioned another student protest in London – a rally more or less the same as last year. If we’re going to try and live up to ‘expectations’, violence will surely be expected.

November 30th – A planned mass strike will happen across the country. Don’t go into work, basically (or university). This will be a difficult moment to incorporate into my film however, as I can’t be everywhere at once, and I can only show what happens in Coventry.

With this in mind, I’d better move quickly to develop my filming style, as well as my approach to this piece!

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