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A GANG of drunken fascists were repelled when they attempted to storm an international anti-racism conference in London yesterday.
Eye-witnesses said the group of 15 to 20 middle-aged men had tried to start a brawl after emerging from a four-hour drinking session in a pub near the conference venue, the Friends Meeting House in Euston Road.
The conference, which was attended by 1,400 people, had ended and delegates were beginning to leave when the attack took place.
One eye-witness told the Morning Star: “A group of people tried to rush in. It was a small group of thugs.
“They did not get very far. They were repelled by stewards. They tried to assault people but were properly dealt with. They went off looking pretty bedraggled.”
The high-profile conference, organised by Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF), was supported by anti-fascists and anti-racists at a national and international level.
Lead speakers were shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and shadow chancellor of the exchequer John McDonnell.
Attendees at the conference said they had been “inspired” by contributions made from the rostrum.
Addressing the conference Ms Abbott said: “The rise of the far-right and fascism internationally is a serious wake-up call to all who value our diversity and democracy and we must come together to oppose them.
“The government’s hostile environment policies have punished the Windrush generation. The work we have done in challenging the hostile environment must be finished.”
John McDonnell said: “With the rise of the far right we need now, more than ever, a movement of solidarity to be mobilised.”
The attack is believed to have taken place shortly after Ms Abbott had addressed the conference, which included delegates from Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Canada and Brazil.
UAF national organiser Paul Sillett, who also saw the incident, said: “A lot of people were leaving. Diane Abbott was safely out of the area.
“It was all over pretty quickly. It did not in any way have an impact on the conference. There were no more than 20 fascists from the Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance. They tried to gain access to the venue. They were robustly dealt with by the stewards and had to retreat.”
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, said: “All week the fascists have been trying to intimidate with calls and threats. It came to nothing. We are continuing to organise on the streets, in our unions and in our workplaces.”
David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group said: “While Britain agonises over its relationship with Europe, the far right here have been busy consolidating theirs.
“They have been drawing strength and inspiration from the advances being made by anti-semites, Islamophobes, anti-Roma and anti-refugee forces in central and eastern Europe, especially in Hungary and Poland, where women’s rights are also under heavy attack. Our fightback needs to be international in scope.”
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