Around 150 people from across Leeds gathered in Moortown on the 4th May for a Unite Against Facism (UAF) counter-demonstration opposing the English Defence League (EDL). EDL groups from across the north had come to Moortown to oppose plans to build a new community centre on the grounds of a disused pub. The centre aims to have a public gym, IT suite, library, training facilities and a prayer room; it’s this prayer room that has sparked these protests.
A Leeds Socialist Party member
The EDL protest was marked by four arrests and reports of a pig’s head being thrown at the proposed site of the community centre. They were also met by residents of the local area criticising them for not actually being interested in the issues affecting residents in the area only getting publicity for themselves.
Unfortunately, this criticism was also directed at UAF with people from the local area responding to the chant of “Whose streets? Our streets!” with “they’re not your streets, we’ve never seen you before!”
This highlights a key task in combating the racist propaganda of the EDL and its ilk; it’s no good appearing to just turn up for a day and shouting. We need to be going out regularly into local communities and discussing these issues with people, helping the communities build campaigns against the cuts and attacks that are really affecting them, such as the bedroom tax.
We need to combat the EDL’s lies that immigrants and Muslims that are responsible for the attacks on the local communities quality of life but the Con-Dem government and local councils; something most UAF speakers ignored in favour of talking about combating the EDL as a single issue.
People in the community are aware and concerned about the cuts, one of the key complaints around this community centre from residents is around council cuts to sport centre and child care facilities and a desire to have the council run the community centre expressly for the whole community rather than a private company.
The anti-cuts movement urgently needs to build up local groups in communities like Moortown. An excellent start would be establishing a local anti-bedroom tax campaign in the area.