Hundreds of anti-racists protested in Erskine, and the fascists were nowhere to be seen

Anti-racists had a major victory on Sunday in Erskine, near Glasgow. The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) with Stand Up to Racism led a mobilisation of 400 anti-racists while the fascists who have been trying to build a big campaign did not show up at all.

For months the Nazi Patriotic Alternative—now reformed as Homeland after a split—has targeted refugees housed in the Muthu Erskine Hotel. It’s an attempt to spread racist hate and division.

Like many of the hotels being used to house refugees temporarily, the profiteering company Mears has the contract to house teenagers, women and young men while they go through the brutal process of trying to gain asylum in Britain. 

The initial protests began with disgruntled locals who took up the racist argument that local people should be given funding and refugees should not. Patriotic Alternative quickly saw this as a focus to build a fascist movement in Scotland. Homeland has reached out to racists in Erskine, spread lies about refugees and created a hardened core of protesters who turned up week after week.

Stand Up to Racism, local trade unionists, residents and others have met them with a counter-protest every time.

The fascists have made grand claims that they are growing and they have the majority of the community on their side. But for weeks their numbers have dropped and plateaued at 20 to 30—half of them Homeland.

This time anti-racists were completely dominant.

Abby, a local student said, “It was an amazing day that felt so positive from start to finish. Erskine felt like a real community for the first time years”. 

Trade unionists and activists hoping to smash the fascists filled coaches from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. Abby said, “People coming from all over Scotland just shows the power of solidarity and hope that will be constantly building in Erskine. It has helped boost the morale of locals and also those in the hotel.” 

Anti-racists standing in the space in Erskine where the fascists held their protests for the past 16 weeks

Julie, a local resident and organiser for the anti-racist campaign said, “Erskine residents came out in force today alongside trade unions and anti-racist activists to show support and welcome refugees— Erskine says no to racism”. 

The patch of grass and fences where protesting racists and fascists usually fester was filled with young activists celebrating a day of resistance to racism. 

A Stand Up To Racism spokesperson said, “The Nazis want to feed off the racist climate created by home secretary Suella Braverman to have a breakthrough. But continuous anti-fascist opposition has stopped them today”. 

This won’t be a total demolition of the fascists, and there still needs to be continued efforts to build against Homeland in Scotland and elsewhere in Britain. 

However, Sunday was a watershed moment in demoralising Homeland in Erskine. Anti-racists on the mobilisation included representatives speaking from trade unions including UCU, EIS, NASUWT, FBU, local faith groups, Sheku Bayoh’s family lawyer Amar Anwar, and Roz Foyer, STUC general secretary. 

Fascists have to be met with resistance at every turn and there will be further protests until the campaign against the refugees in Erskine has been smashed.

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