On Sunday the 11th of June, antifascists of various stripes, including Bristol and Brighton antifascists, Swindon Pride, trade unions like the NEU, and two or three Trotskyist groups, mobilised to protect a drag queen story hour in Swindon at the Wywern theatre.
We were there to hold the line against Patriotic Alternative. Their protest was led by their South West branch, with help from their South East and possibly other branches. They’d additionally teamed up with some local homophobic preachers and the preachers’ toadies. That included local weirdo John Dunn (Sword of the Lord ministries) who’s achievements include getting nicked in Glasto around the same time for a public order offence.
Unlike PA’S previous mobilisation in Weston Super Mare earlier in June. PA had advertised this demo beforehand. They had been leafleting in Swindon Town centre, and those leafleting included ex-Swindon Council employee and self-described “musician” Leon Mayer. Basing your songs off such a boring, racist book as the Turner diaries is unlikely to result in a good sound in our opinion.
Strangely, for an ethno-nationalist organisation, some of those on their demo were people of colour. PA were ridiculed by their ex-comrades in the recently split “Homeland ” for this. Perhaps it’s the Joe Marsh (PA Wales regional organiser convicted for stabbing two Manchester United fans and throwing an anti fascist protester down some stairs in London) effect – yesterday we were protesting against “traffic measures”, today we’re being homophobic and tomorrow we’ll be racist again? For PA, this does not bode well and indicates that the split with “Homeland” has indeed been so extremely damaging for a Nazi organisation that it has to pal up with people who it plans to deport if their lofty aims of getting political power should occur.
PA, again, had a defective sound system. Like at the demo in Llanwitt a few months before, we could (thankfully) barely hear a word they said. The preachers dominated the mic, and rambled for ages about nothing in particular. PA did get on the mic, but briefly, and after their new friends had fucked off, were subdued. They were outnumbered again, and PA as an organisation is still reeling from the split. The lack of confidence shown on the day, plus the deep paranoia they must be feeling about possible proscription with so many of their cadre being put on trial for various hate offenses, indicates they are not in the best of health organisationally.
We occupied the space immediately outside the Wywern theatre to stop the fascists getting near. Swindon Pride had organised a far better sound system than the fash, which played queer anthems to drown out the bigotry from the other side. The demo was essentially a dance party, and thankfully, apart from one mother with a child who the police stupidly allowed to accidentally walk through the Nazi demo, the families and children had little interaction with the fash. The line was held well, and the family event was able to go ahead without a hitch. Aida H Dee, the drag queen running the events, was able to come out at the end and speak, something that had not happened before, and PA looked on glumly as we cheered her speech. After the event, they cleared off with little fanfare, and after waiting a little longer we left.
The demo showed that this sort of hate isn’t welcome in Swindon, and was better attended on our side than the Somerset or Bristol drag shows last year. This time, PA received little help from the conspiracist contingent they had last year, and this meant their numbers were smaller. They had to bus in activists from elsewhere to beef up their numbers.
However, despite how well the day went, we need to stay vigilant against PA. They are extreme, with holocaust denial and open racism, homophobia and calls to violence by venerating terrorists like Christchurch shooter, Brentan Tarrant commonplace in their ranks. Their open association with National Action (indeed, some argue they are merely a front for the banned terror group) tells us all we need to know about who these people are, and what they believe.
Swindon is antifascist!!!