Why French anti-fascists took to the streets last weekend

Thousands marched in Paris and other cities in France last weekend to protest against  violence by far right groups which claimed the life of Clément Méric, a student union and anti-fascist activist. Below is a joint statement by the organisers and supporters of the demonstrations:

Fascism kills. Together, we can fight it!

On 5 June, right-wing militants killed Clément Méric, the student union and anti-fascist activist. This outrageous murder angers and horrifies us: it follows numerous assaults in recent months by far-right groups. The situation calls for a strong response, to put a halt to the spread of these ideas and foul practices. Continue reading

Can you be a fascist, Paolo Di Canio, without being a racist?

A lot has been made of Sunderland Football Club’s new manager Paolo Di Canio’s previous comments and actions, that have been expressly fascist in nature. The accusations, that Di Canio now call “ridiculous and pathetic”, include giving roman salutes to A.S. Roma fans (who are known to have a wide Jewish following), a recorded interview in 2005 where Di Canio said he was a fascist, not a racist, and a ‘Dux’ tattoo on his arm referring to Il Duce, Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

He has once described Mussolini as “basically a very principled, ethical individual” who was “deeply misunderstood”. To be rather (too) charitable to Di Canio, when he says Mussolini was misunderstood, this probably refers to the notion that unlike in Germany, Italian fascism was primarily predicated on authoritarianism, not race hatred. Indeed Di Canio says today that, apart from the fact he is not a politician and dislikes taking questions about his previous comments, that he has never disliked anybody – a further denial of his possible racism. Continue reading

The nastiest by-election ever? And a self-inflicted disaster for Labour

Thirty years ago yesterday. The Bermondsey by-election is certainly a contender for the nastiest by election in Britain. Peter Tatchell refers to it as “the lowest point in modern election campaigning: the most violent and scurrilous election in Britain in the 20th century and the most homophobic election in British history.” Losing a safe Labour seat on a swing of 44.2%, the largest by-election swing in British political history, was also an electoral disaster for Labour but one which was to a large extent self-inflicted. Continue reading

In remembrance of Sir Patrick Moore – the good and the daft

Sir Patrick Moore, who Queen guitarist Brian May once described as the “father of astronomy”, died over the weekend, as many will have no doubt already heard. As I wrote something by way of a tribute to his work on Twitter and Facebook I was speedily reminded that he also had very hairy political views. I want to briefly explain why I think we can distinguish the two things.

People who deal, professionally, with sets of objectively analysed data – economists or scientists, say – play two often inharmonious roles: analysts and people with opinions, good and daft, just like everybody else.

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Londoners won’t be fooled by the anti-Ken Livingstone spin

The polls are showing the two leading contenders for London mayor – Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson – running neck and neck. Predictably, sections of the rightwing media have started reaching for the proverbial dog whistle; playing politics with race and religion and appealing to a diminishing band of bigoted voters who respond to the politics of fear. They are painting a picture of the East End which doesn’t exist – but which aims to frighten the voters in suburbia down to the polling stations on 3 May. Continue reading