Since the election of Donald Trump, Australia has become the “it” destination for far right provocateurs. The latest is Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party and notorious anti-Muslim racist.
Farage began his speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand on 2 September, arriving in Perth to heap praise on One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and US President Donald Trump at the up to $300 per head event. Unfortunately for his supporters, anti-fascist protesters were waiting.
Called by anti-fascist group United Against Bigotry and Racism, the crowd of over 50 protesters came to show their solidarity with Muslims and immigrants and that Farage’s ideas are not without active opposition. They chanted as attendees, protected by members of the far right English Defence League, hired to provide security for the event, entered Perth Town Hall.
The timing made the action particularly relevant. Only a week ago a mosque was firebombed in Perth’s Northern suburb of Mirrabooka, a racist attack in the final week of an Islamic holiday. The WA police revealed where their sympathies lay by giving Jacqueline Blackburn, a long-time activist and the rally chair, a move-on notice for using the word “wanker” in a chant. Another protester, Nicole McEwen, was also given a move on notice. McEwen told Red Flag “The police acted arbitrarily to intimidate protesters and restrict freedom of speech. Swearing is not a crime. It was an excuse to shut down left wing voices”.
And while Farage has been made welcome here, US whistle blower and critic of the far right, Chelsea Manning, has not been granted a visa by the Australian government, effectively preventing her from speaking here.
Once the last few Farage supporters had trickled in, the protesters marched in a victory lap around the square, enthusiastically continuing to chant “Farage is a wanker”. Perth certainly has not seen its last anti-fascist demonstration, and neither has Nigel Farage.
The rest of his tour continued throughout the week, culminating in Melbourne on 7 September. One thing he can be sure of is that wherever he goes, protests will follow.
And more protests in Melbourne
Believe the hype: Melbourne is an established no-go zone for the far right. Arch-conservative Andrew Bolt thinks so. Far right vlogger Lauren Southern thinks so. And Melbourne anti-fascists proved it once again on 7 September when the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) held a lively counter-protest against far right UK politician Nigel Farage.
Farage was in town as part of a national speaking tour, following in the footsteps of kindred spirits before him like Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos. It speaks to the degeneration of global politics today that in the lead up to his tour Farage was able to portray himself as a “moderate” who’s not anti-immigrant, just “pro-integration”.
Farage is the former head of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) which campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union on the most racist and anti-migrant platform possible. Farage personally unveiled a billboard titled “BREAKING POINT”, depicting hordes of migrants threatening to swamp the UK’s borders, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.
With Brexit achieved, UKIP has hardened its racist, anti-migrant stance and actively fostered links with the British far right. For example, UKIP has played an important role in the demonstrations in defence of former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson. While Farage is no longer UKIP’s leader, he has spent his time since fraternising with prominent far right figures like the French National Front’s Marine Le Pen and US president Donald Trump.
Fortunately, Farage’s trip to Australia didn’t prove as popular as his promoters were expecting. In Melbourne they had to lower their sights from filling a room at Crown Casino to a venue at the Docklands to finally downsizing to a little room at the Sofitel Hotel. And despite Farage’s protestations that he’s not far right, his event dredged up the bottom-feeding scum of the Melbourne fascist scene, including convicted anti-Semite Neil Erikson and local Men’s Rights activist Andrew Nolch.
Over 200 anti-fascists turned up to send a message to Farage that whenever the far right try to organise, anti-fascists will be there to give them hell. And with more far right figures like Gavin McInnes, Fraser “final solution” Anning and Milo Yiannopoulos touring Australia in the near future, these protests are vital to building the broad anti-fascist movement we need to relegate these creeps to the margins of society where they belong.