Tariq Ali says Bookmarks ransacking marks shift in fascist tactics

Calls for launch of new anti-Nazi organisation to counter emboldened groups

Thursday, 9th August 2018 — By Tom Foot

TARIQ Ali believes the ransacking of Bookmarks bookshop “marked a shift in fascist and far-right policy”.

The political activist and writer, who lives in Camden Town, told the New Journal that battle-lines were now being drawn on the streets “rather than in Parliament”.

The radical booksellers in Bloomsbury was targeted by a group of 12 people on Saturday who walked in denouncing books, tearing up placards and hurling abuse at the manager as “Corbynite scum”.

Mr Ali said: “Clearly this has been discussed in the Tommy Robinson camp and by UKIP as a way of getting publicity. They want to be more aggressive, simply as a way of recruiting more people.”

He added: “It marks a shift in the fascist and far-right policy. They are saying ‘we are not going to do this through Parliament anymore’.”

Tariq Ali: Far Right using ‘aggression’ to recruit members

Mr Ali said the large- scale marches of the far right in recent months were further evidence of a polarisation in Britain that was growing with the support of the “establishment”.

Mr Ali will speak at a solidarity rally at Book- marks on Saturday where he will be joined by authors and activists including the protest historian Dr Louise Raw.

She told the New Journal: “The time has come for a new anti-Nazi organisation to make sure we can assemble en masse wherever there’s a threat – strength in numbers is what’s needed.”

Children’s author Michael Rosen, who has campaigned for and writ- ten poems about the anti- fascist movement, told the New Journal: “This is classic fascist behaviour: intimidation on the street, attacking the places where people exchange ideas freely.” He added: “We have to all stand with Bookmarks on this and not let anyone be picked off or made fearful by this nasty stuff.”

Left-wing campaigners have for more than a year warned of rising numbers on right-wing protests in central London. The groups have grown in confidence following the Brexit referendum result, and media coverage of US President Donald Trump and the Tommy Robinson campaign.

In May, a group of around 200 Unite Against Fascism (UAF) supporters were completely over-whelmed by thousands of “Free Tommy” supporters. Steve Hedley, from the RMT, based in Somers Town, was beaten up by a far-right group that day.

The UAF said some of the Bookmarks group are outspoken members of the former Football Lads Alliance, which mobilised a 15,000-strong protest last October.

In mobile phone footage taken during the attack on Saturday the camera holder says: “We’re going to do an ambush … Let’s get the bastards.” The group then start singing about Tom- my Robinson before the manager is told: “Who do you think you are pushing you f***ing paedophile nutter? You Corbynite. Scum. Trump Trump, Trump.”

Bookmarks manager Dave Gilchrist said: “This horrific attack on a radical bookshop should send shivers down the spine of anyone who knows their history.” Bookmarks, which has been trading for 40 years stocks a wide range of socialist and radical publications. One of the group, Luke Nash Jones – leader of Make Britain Great Again – in an online post last night (Wednesday) said: “Make Britain Great Again condemns the actions of certain individ- uals at the largest Com- munist bookstore in Lon- don on Saturday evening.”

Drinking from a Union Jack mug, he said that by entering Bookmarks he “did not want to suggest any disapproval of the existence of bookstores” and the whole event had been a “prank” that went wrong.

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