Thousands take to the streets of Liverpool for anti-fascist march

Trade unions and anti-racism groups led demonstration against the Far Right

Liverpool marches against fascism
Liverpool marches against fascism

Thousands took part in a march against fascism through Liverpool city centre today.

Trade unions and anti-racism groups led the rally, which began on William Brown Street at noon.

A central theme of the day was to spread the message that far-right British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin must be defeated at the Euro elections next year.

He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the North West in 2009, when general voter apathy was blamed for allowing the BNP to take the seat.

Concerns that the march could be disrupted by far-right activists proved unfounded, as the event passed peacefully with no clashes or arrests.

Around 5,000 were estimated to have taken part, with protesters marching over the city centre flyover, along North John Street and Lord Street and assembling at the Pier Head for a rally at around 1.45pm.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, led the Merseyside demonstration– part of a national day of protest – and was one of several speakers to address the gathered crowds once there.

Mr McCluskey told the ECHO: “People have come from all over, there’s been a really good turnout.

“We’re here to make the message crystal clear– we reject the violence and division of racism and fascism.

“We don’t want to just drive them off our streets, we want to challenge their myths and lies and expose then for what they are.

“It also sends a message to this ‘divide and rule’ government that we won’t allow ordinary people to be divided the way they want.”

Among those speaking out against fascism at the rally was Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, who was subjected to some boos and heckles with calls of “no cuts” and “you are the right” from sections of the crowd.

He responded by telling the hecklers “that’s exactly what they [the far-right] want” before addressing the crowd to say the city needed to be united to defeat fascism, adding: “We have to make sure Nick Griffin isn’t elected this time.”

Ahead of the march, he told the ECHO:

“It’s difficult out there and people want to divide communities and neighbours creating hatred.

 “That’s why it’s right we join together and unite against the far right in all its forms. 

“That’s why I’m here and why it’s good to see so many people here too.”

Other speakers included Mohammad Taj, the president of the Trade Union Congress, Billy Hayes, the Communication Workers Union general secretary, and former Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob, who told the ECHO that Liverpool was “a city of tolerance and multiculturalism that can set an example to the whole country”.

The crowd also heard from Greek anti-fascist leader Petros Constantinou, who flew over to lend his support to the cause, with entertainment provided by Liverpool based rapper Kof, and the Banner Theatre.

People from across Merseyside and beyond took part in the march, with some travelling from across the UK to join in.

The ECHO spoke to a number of protesters about why they felt it was so important to make their views known on fascism.

Tracey McNally, from Kirkby, said:  “My grandad fought in the Second World War against fascism. It scares me they are coming in through the back door. The BNP are not wanted on Merseyside.”

 Spanish friends Marta Garcia and Elena Sanchez were also taking part. Marta, who is studying in Liverpool, told the ECHO: “We think these events are an important part of the fight against fascism, as well as the [austerity] cuts.

“We come from Spain where we have also been fighting this type of fascism and we wanted to be here and show support.”

Paul Cooke, from Bootle, said: “Nick Griffin should just go, get out of the North West, he needs to be removed. I’m totally opposed to anything the BNP stand for, it has no right to impose itself on the people of Merseyside.”

From The Liverpool Echo . Report by  12.10.13

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