AFN conference report back

The AFN conference this year took place on 1st December in Oxford. It was very impressivley organised and well attended. The amount of footwork that had been put into the event was clear and really paid off to make it a hugely successful event. There was a really good range of both informative and practically useful sessions on offer, from antifascist history to legal info for demos and from an introduction to the AFN and militant antifascism to a talk on how to get info on our far right enemies. Another session made clear the links and shared politics between transphobia and fascism. A very accessible and motivational self defence session got a lot of uptake and the community centre was filled with the sounds of hitting pads.

A network can’t march on theory and practice alone so an impressive dinner was served up by a hard working local community kitchen crew who were really pleased to support the conference by doing what they do best. Likewise, raised fists to the awesome folk duo who played and sang some very powerful old antifascist and rebel songs in the pub afterwards as conference participants relaxed and socialised together.

Everyone has something to offer to the antifascist struggle. The day was a powerful reflection of what we have and what we can achieve as a network when we put our knowledge, experience, skills and efforts together. Full respect to the organisers from Oxford Antifascists and to everyone involved who helped create such an impressive space to discuss, learn, inform, practice and socialise together. Events like this strengthen antifascist solidarity and keep us and our movement energised and motivated to carry on the fight.

Oxford shouts down Le Pen


A lively crowd gathered in Oxford to voice opposition to Marine Le Pen, French fascist, speaking at the Oxford Union. The talk was delayed and many of the audience never made it inside, as antifascists blocked the entrance gate and climbed on the fences hanging banners. Le Pen was smuggled in and out the back by police, so presumably got at least a vague idea how unwelcome she is.

Anti Fascist Network groups were there, of course, including Berkshire Anti Fascists who’ve written about it on their page.

Le Pen is the leader of the Front National in France, which is a far-right party doing frighteningly well in the polls. Whilst the Oxford Union talk of politically neutral debate and free speech, the effect of such invitations in the real world are dangerous. Giving fascists increased legitimacy and oppportunities to speak (and be heard) creates a climate of fear and intolerance for anyone perceived as different, which includes real racist attacks and real lives made harder every day.

Around 250 people joined the enthusiastic protests, filling the street outside the venue. Those queueing to get in had to turn back as the gates were blocked by a mass of antifascists. After a bit of pushing the security managed to close the gates and declared they would not be opening them again, to anyone. One antifascist was briefly arrested and taken through the ‘very posh’ building, before being released to rejoin the others, who stayed right up until the talk was finished. At one lovely, if surreal, moment half the crowd joined in singing Les Miserables songs.

Well done to all who came out in the cold and made so much noise.