The small town of Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan, with its picturesque coastline and popular beaches that combine to make it one of the most desirable postcodes in Wales is not the most obvious site to find oneself in the vanguard of the struggle against fascist hate. However, on Saturday, the narrow winding streets of the usually sleepy town became a crucible in that fight as as a coalition of local residents and activists from the surrounding areas came together to take a stand for love and compassion in the face of fascist hate.
Events came to a head in Llantwit on Saturday after the word reached local activists that ‘Patriotic Alternative’ (a group widely described as fascist, neo-Nazi and white Nationalist) was planning a demonstration against council plans to house refugees in the town. On Saturday, along with my wife, my nine-month-old baby son (attending his first anti-fascist demonstration – start them early!) and comrades from the R&C Wales branch, I made the short journey from my home in Bridgend to attend the counterdemonstration. A crowd estimated to be in excess of 200 marched through the town in a show of strength aimed at demonstrating that refugees are welcome and that contrary to the hate sown by the enemy, South Wales remains the compassionate place I have always known it to be.
In what must now be a familiar scenario for their paltry activist base, ‘Patriotic Alternative’ were routed in Llantwit Major. Corralled by the police in a field near the town centre, they had no option but to accept that, as the pro-refugee demonstrators chanted ‘there are many, many more of us than you’ Outnumbered over ten to one, the far-right agitators packed up their banners and to the cheers of the crowd, hot-footed it back to the station. In the event, such was the paucity of their numbers, they could probably have shared a couple taxis home. The current wider context of UK politics rarely for anything other than a state of extreme vigilance about the poisonous effect of the far-right on British society but on a sunny Saturday on the South Wales coast I allowed myself to feel content and proud that my corner of the world had come together to show hate the door.
I want to conclude by talking about why as a trade-unionist, a Socialist and a member of Left Unity, I felt it so important to attend on Saturday. As a Socialist, compassion for the most vulnerable groups is written through my ideals, morals, and politics like a stick of rock. As a trade unionist, I believe that we should always aspire to be more than a workplace pressure group with limited finite concerns. We are a campaigning union, or we are nothing. We in PCS are a mass membership organisation with a democratic mandate built on the trust of our members. We must continue to stand up for the values of compassion and tolerance like the community in Llantwit Major did on Saturday. Be it as a bulwark against policies like sending asylum seekers to Rwanda or in the tireless work of our activists across the spectrum of equality issues. We must continue to show the courage to lead where politicians too often fear to tread and to build the broad coalition that will never allow far-right hate to flourish.
Sean is a Left Unity candidate for the R&C GEC. To see the full Left Unity slate for the R&C GEC click here