Guest post by Edinburgh Anti-Fascists
Just like Tommy Robinson and the the far right in the south of England, Scotland’s fascists are trying to hijack someone’s memory to further their agenda. The dregs of the Scottish Defence League have been working themselves into a frenzy after an ex-soldier died in Edinburgh after spending years living on the streets. Smelling an opportunity to twist yet another tragedy into a tedious discussion about immigrants being to blame for literally everything, they’ve called their first kettled shout-athon of the year in Edinburgh this Sunday.
Despite having never previously lifted a finger to help homeless people, they’re changing focus this year. Maybe even they can sense that shouting about terrorism right now, when not one but two fascists have been on trial for terrorism (Darren Osborne and Ethan Stables), makes them look like fools.
Instead, they’re focusing on the sad death of yet another ex-soldier who was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to his sister, Darren Greenfield suffered from trauma after he returned from being deployed in Bosnia. While the UK military’s involvement in foreign conflicts is rarely something to applaud, giving him the benefit of the doubt, Darren was there stopping violent nationalists from committing genocide and ethnic cleansing against a Muslim minority. For the SDL, a group regularly calling for the forced removal of all Muslims from the UK, to exploit his part in this conflict is extra fucking sick.
In recent years, mental health services have been stretched to braking point by lack of investment. The MoD is playing catch up trying to solve a surge in PTSD in returning soldiers. Adequate housing for people on low incomes seems to be pushed out by student housing and luxury flats, with Edinburgh’s council housing stock reduced by over half since the 70s, to around just 20,000 today. Yet the far right are trying to blame the number of homeless ex-soldiers on the meagre number of refugees welcomed to this country.
There should rightly be anger at the number of ex-soldiers who have been brutalised, sent to fight in far away lands then dumped without support once they’re no longer useful. There should be anger at anyone having to spend a single night living on the streets or crammed into temporary accommodation. That anger should be pointed upwards at a political and economic system which treats having a home as a luxury and sees people only in terms of economic wealth. A system which the SDL and the rest of the far right have no alternatives for.
In fact other than shouting with flegs in the backstreets of Scotland’s cities, the SDL have no suggestions or ideas on how to help people like Darren, who was offered places to stay and homes from a variety of charities and individuals. Unfortunately none of the support offered met his needs. PTSD in soldiers is a complex and difficult issue which affects returning soldiers, their families and loved ones and leads to many either in prison or homeless. Only a few weeks ago the far right were moaning about the Army’s new adverts concentrating on softy liberal things like feelings and now they’re all over Twitter banging on about how there’s not enough support for ex-soldiers suffering from PTSD. The reason Darren stayed on the streets has fuck all to do with refugees being housed, but the fascists have other ideas.
Edinburgh Antifascist Action will continue to resist the SDL and the far right in Scotland wherever they pop up. We will also continue to support groups which are making a real difference to people facing homelessness and fighting for better housing. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty have been protesting outside homeless B&Bs calling for better living conditions for people sleeping there and Living Rent have been taking the fight to rip off landlords and campaigning for a Winter Break in evictions over winter to prevent deaths on the streets.
The far right in Scotland cannot be allowed to capitalise on genuine problems faced by working class people to fuel their racist agenda. This includes confronting them physically, politically, and providing people with political solutions that provide real change to their circumstances.
The SDL will be protesting outside the First Minister’s residence, Bute House, in Charlotte Square at 2pm on Sunday 4 February. Anti-fascists will be gathering in the area beforehand to oppose them.
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