Guild Refuses To Hold Mayoral Debates

Update: Liverpool University has confirmed the new venue for the debate as the Sherrington Building on Ashton Street. Liverpool Antifascists’ demonstration has moved accordingly. Map here.

It has emerged that the Liverpool Guild of Students has refused to host the Liverpool Mayoral Debate on Thursday 19 April.

This is because three of the candidates are fascists and, though the Guild has no official “No Platform” policy, it is regarded as a safe space for all students – including ethnic minorities, LGBT and women – and giving the far-right a platform would undermine this status.

Liverpool Antifascists applauds the Guild for its actions, as we hold that there should be no platform for racists and fascists. But of course a new venue will likely be announced soon, and so our demonstration at the debates will be going ahead. We will keep people updated as soon as we know of a new venue and any other changes.

No Platform

The action taken by the Guild has sparked a lot of debate, amongst students in particular, about the anti-fascist policy of No Platform. Liberals fret that this is an attack on freedom of speech for all and that we should allow the fascists a platform as the best way to defeat their ideas.

We would suggest, however, that this notion is completely ahistorical – not to mention ignorant of exactly how fascism works.

Fascism is an ideology based in violence. The violent destruction of all those individuals and organisations who do not give their all to the “fatherland”. These include people who don’t wish to work incredibly long hours for very little pay, those who believe in democracy, or human rights, or equality, and can include any other perceived “inferior” people, such as the disabled, mentally ill, homosexuals or ethnic minorities.

With fascists, there is no question as to whether they will be violent or not. They will begin acts of violence as soon as they feel powerful enough to do so. In Britain in the 1970s they were powerful, and carried out violence across the country, even including attacking old people in small human rights meetings.

The fascists in the 1970s and 80s were physically smashed off the streets by militant organisation Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), with the once-might National Front reduced from 20,000 members to the pathetic 30-60 it is today. But with AFA gone, and the political situation shifting, they once more feel confident to be violent on the streets – as we saw most explicitly in Liverpool on February 18th.

Combating this is not an intellectual question, or something to be left to the police and the state. It is a basic matter of working class self-defence. Fascism can only grow while fascists are free to organise – to have a website, to have meetings and demonstrations, and to produce and distribute propaganda. Without this they cannot be heard, and so cannot grow. Preventing them speaking is not nice, but it must be done if they are to be prevented from gaining support by their deception.

It must be stressed again at this stage that by far the most important way of fighting the far right is by dealing with the problems they thrive off on a class basis rather than a racial one. But this does not mean that the physical presence of the far-right can be ignored. When they have the confidence to use violence, those organising against the problems of our class are one of their primary targets, and so the defensive tactic of No Platform goes hand-in-hand with the task of organising for a better world.

The activities of AFA largely drove the far right underground, and it is thanks to them that fascists still can rarely have public meetings anywhere in the UK. We need to make sure this remain so, and we are unapologetic on that count.

Portions of this post were adapted from an article on fascism by

One Response to “Guild Refuses To Hold Mayoral Debates”
  1. afaarchive says:

    A historical correction:

    Anti-Fascist Action was not founded until 1985. It fought the far right until the mid 90s.

    Squads in the Anti-Nazi League fought with fascists from the late 70s until expulsion in 1981.

    The Archivist

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