Some 250 protesters gathered in Blackpool last Saturday for a lively and successful demonstration against an “annual conference” held in the town by the fascist British National Party (BNP).
The protest against the BNP drew in anti-racist activists, students and trade unionists from across the north west of England. It was called by Unite Against Fascism and Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre TUC.
Demonstrators met up outside Blackpool’s Winter Gardens before marching through the town centre, distributing leaflets on the way, to a rally some two miles out of town outside the New Kimberley Hotel, the venue for the Nazi gathering.
“The BNP is trying to give itself an air of respectability, but we believe that is a very thin veneer,” said Brian Gregory, secretary of Blackpool TUC.
“We’ve got the message across that we don’t want them in Blackpool.”
Stephen Mullen, president of Blackpool and the Fylde College student union, said, “We’re concerned for the safety of our students, many of whom are international students, or black or ethnic minority students.”
Other speakers included Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite, Alec McFadden from North West TUC, Pete Marsden of Blackpool Unison and Ruqayyah Collector, black students’ officer for the National Union of Students.
The size of the anti-fascist demonstration outside the hotel easily outnumbered those inside.
The BNP had been boasting about bringing 600 fascists to the event, but journalists covering it put the real numbers at around 50.
Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, later admitted in a radio interview that the Unite Against Fascism protest had deterred his supporters from attending the conference.
Local trade unionists are now calling for a boycott of the New Kimberley Hotel, whose management declined requests not to host the fascist gathering.
Despite threats from local football hooligan gangs and scare stories in the press, the Unite demonstration passed off peacefully with no arrests.
The protest was popular with local people, with one local restaurant owner making an impromptu offer of free refreshments for all those demonstrating against the fascists.
Demonstrate against the Nazis' rally in Barking
Local people, anti-fascist campaigners and trade unionists are due to hold a counter demonstration in Dagenham, east London, on Saturday 9 December against a racist rally organised by the BNP.
The counter demo has been called by Unite Against Fascism with support from South East Region TUC and Region One of the T&G union, which covers London and the south east of England.
The BNP has been targeting the Barking & Dagenham area for several years now and took 11 council seats there at the council elections this year.
The fascists have promoted their rally with racist leaflets blamming immigrants, asylum seekers and Muslims for social problems in the area.
They falsely claim that immigrants are getting preferential treatment for council housing.
Another racist lie that the BNP is keen to whip up is that immigrants are responsible for violent crime. In fact it is the presence of the Nazis that is stoking up tension and violence on the streets.
According to figures from the local Race Equality Council, racist incidents in the borough have risen significantly in the past few years, from an average of 34 incidents a month in 2002 to an average of 62 a month this year.
This contrasts with the rest of London, which has seen a fall in the number of attacks year on year, according to figures from the Metropolitan Police.
- Unite Against Fascism is calling on anti-fascists to assemble at 1pm on Saturday 9 December at Central Park in Dagenham. Call the Unite office on
020 7833 4916 or go to www.uaf.org.uk for details of the meeting point.
Over 1,000 people protested in Glasgow last Saturday against racism on the annual Scottish TUC St Andrew’s Day. Many union banners were in evidence on the demonstration.
Meanwhile, the left wing singer songwriter Billy Bragg kicks off his Hope Not Hate tour in York on Friday of this week. This is a series of gigs to spread the anti-fascist cause.
The tour is backed by the GMB, Unison and Amicus unions and by a range of anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations including Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism. For details go to www.billybragg.co.uk
Love Music Hate Racism fundraising event
With Babyshambles, The View, DJ Cameo, Metro Riots, Paddingtons and many more
Thursday 30 November, 8pm to 3am. Fabric, 77a Charterhouse Street, London EC1. Tickets £16 (+booking fee) from