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UAF — a proud history of opposing fascism

By Doris Hollander
June 26th 2012




Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is a national organisation whose main task is to expose and oppose the British National Party (BNP) and other fascist and racist groups such as the English Defence League (EDL).

These organisations pose a threat to human rights, civil liberties and respect for different cultural and religious traditions. Fascism is the enemy of all free, tolerant and inclusive societies.

What is fascism?

Fascism is an extreme right-wing nationalist ideology or movement with a totalitarian structure opposed to democracy.

It represents a system of government marked by centralisation of authority, a one-party state under a dictator, with stringent socio-economic controls, suppression of opposition through terror, intimidation, censorship, and a belligerent nationalism.

Nazism is a variant of Fascism that has a greater emphasis on racial purity, racism and genocide. Both Fascism and Nazism emerged in Italy and Germany following the First World War. Although the fascist regimes in Europe were destroyed during the Second World War, both ideologies have experienced several revivals.

1930s Britain

Inspired by the rise of fascism in Europe, British politician Oswald Mosley sought to bring together various groups of sympathisers in Britain under the British Union of Fascists (BUF).

Aping the Nazis in Germany, the BUF’s street-fighting wing, known as the Blackshirts, targeted Jewish people who they blamed for all the economic and social ills at that time.

Mosley’s movement grew rapidly, and began to pose a serious threat to British society. In 1936 Mosley and his supporters were stopped from a provocative march through Jewish neighbourhoods in London’s east end in the “Battle of Cable Street”.

Over one hundred thousand locals, trade unionists and others turned out to block the path of the march. It ended in disaster for Mosley and his movement.

The popular victory in Cable Street holds a lesson for us today. BNP leader Nick Griffin thinks of himself as having a direct link to Mosley, and although today’s main targets have widened to include Muslim and other minority communities, the method and aims of fascist parties remain the same.

Opposing fascism

Unite Against Fascism was preceded by the Anti-Nazi League (ANL), which for many years took a prominent part in opposing fascism and Nazism in Britain.

The ANL was established in 1977 to galvanize broad opposition to the threat posed by the National Front (NF). The ANL brought together high-profile figures, MPs, trade unions and local activists in a huge campaign against the NF.

The ANL built an impressive record in undermining the impact of the NF. The lesson we drew from that success is that fascism needs to be opposed wherever it rears its ugly head, and we must deny any platform for its supporters to spread their message of hate.

UAF launch

Protesting against BNP leader Nick Griffin

Unite Against Fascism was launched in December 2003 at a huge rally in the Astoria Theatre, London.

The national organisation began as a coalition that included the ANL, the National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR), North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (NorSCARF), the TUC and national trade unions alongside Muslim and Jewish organisations, community groups, students, and local campaign networks.

Our leading supporters include MPs, and trades unions representing everyone from lorry drivers to shop workers, journalists to prison officers, teachers to civil service workers.


Our aim is to counter the BNP’s electoral threat, as well as the EDL’s campaign of intimidation, through national and grassroots campaigns. We challenge the fascist poison on the doorstep, in schools and colleges, in our places of work, in our neighbourhoods and communities.

Doris Hollander was born in Aachen, Germany, of Jewish parents. On the eve of WWII her family fled to Rhodesia (Zimbawe). Doris became deputy secretary at the Ministry of Health, Zimbabwe, until 1986. She is lifelong campaigner against racism and fascism and a founding member of UAF.

Originally published by Unite Against Fascism

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