DAVID BLUNKETT, the home secretary, has banned the Anti Nazi League (ANL) carnival in Burnley set for 1 September. The carnival was to be a celebration of multiracial society in the face of the support for the Nazi British National Party (BNP) in the north west of England in the recent general election.
It aimed to draw thousands of young and old, black and white people together, to combat the lies and race hatred pumped out by the BNP and its supporters. But the local police and Burnley Borough Council pressed Blunkett to ban the carnival because 'the risk of trouble is very high'. While the ANL carnival and the Welsh Green Gathering, a festival for environmentalists, have been banned, the Nazi BNP's Red, White and Blue 'festival' was planned to take place in Wales this weekend.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, has a farm, Y Gribyn, Llanerfyl, Welshpool, Powys SY21 0JQ (phone 01938 820 198 or 01938 820 560). Griffin intends to rally hardcore Nazis at an adjoining farm called Llechwedd-du. He will use his mobile (07813 328 955) to bring BNP members from across Britain to hear Nazi speeches.
His mother, Jean Griffin of 1 Waterloo Terrace, Welshpool, Powys SY21 7HD (phone 0700 900 2671), is organising bed and breakfast accommodation for the Nazis. It is a disgrace that this race hatred event can go ahead while two multiracial and peaceful events are banned.
There has never been any violence at an ANL carnival. Wherever the BNP has an electoral success or a presence, racist attacks increase. There is growing resistance to the Nazis. Alternative band the Levellers, singer Jimmy Somerville and two Burnley councillors are amongst the people who support an ANL carnival in Burnley.
The ANL is calling for a weekend of anti-Nazi activity from Saturday 1 September in places where the Nazis got a large vote. It is asking as many people as possible to still come to Burnley. Everyone should join in the leafleting and canvassing in areas like Oldham West, Oldham East, Bradford North, Dewsbury, Dudley North and West Bromwich West. Anti-Nazi campaigning is also taking place in Erdington and Hodgehill in Birmingham, and Barking, Dagenham, and Hayes in London.
There were ANL activities in every area being targeted by the Nazis last weekend. In Oldham an ANL stall in the town centre on Saturday was well received. Around 20 activists went around the mainly white Holts estate on Sunday. This was one of the areas where the BNP got a large vote in the general election. 'Most people wanted to listen to what we had to say,' explained Pete. 'One person who had voted BNP said he wouldn't vote for them again after what we told him about their Nazi policies.'
Labour councillor Paul Reynolds joined an ANL stall in Burnley town centre last Saturday. 'People want something like a carnival to happen, and support us,' said Charlotte. 'The next day we did a stall at the Blackburn Mela festival where everybody signed the petition.'
ANL supporters went door to door last Sunday on the Eccleshill and Thorpe Edge estates in Bradford, where the BNP got 1,600 votes in the election. 'People were really welcoming,' said Ateeq. 'The majority of people stressed how anti-racist the area is.'
In Leeds, where the Nazi National Front (NF) is planning to march later this month, two ANL stalls at local festivals met with a great response. 'We handed out thousands of leaflets at the Unity festival on Saturday and the Mela on Sunday,' says Nick. 'Everybody took one. People were outraged that the NF has been given permission to march in Pudsey, an area of Leeds. The NF is stirring things up in the area-putting up racist graffiti and abusing children on their way to school.'
We all have to unite to stop the Nazi threat.
NF forced to retreat
THE NAZI National Front (NF) failed to turn up in Stechford, Birmingham, last Saturday after its march was banned. It had planned to march through the multiracial area in an attempt to spark attacks on Asian and black people.
After hearing that the NF was not coming to Birmingham, Anti Nazi League supporters held two successful stalls in the town centre. Locals see the abandoned attempts of the NF to march as a victory. An ANL stall also went down well at the Birmingham carnival the next day.
'The NF is a disgrace,' Arun told Socialist Worker. 'We live in a multicultural society-we have to live together. The majority of people are the same.' 'It's scary that in the year 2001 these kind of people are still around,' said Sophie, a charity worker. 'I don't see the point in saying, 'Let's keep this country white.' What's that about? Asian youths are seeing their communities under attack in places like Bradford and they're not going to accept that. Why should they? When a white taxi driver is attacked by a group of Asians it makes the front page of the local paper. But white on black attacks happen all the time and they're not heard of-they're not news. The hypocrisy is astounding.'
'The NF aren't just against foreigners,' said Chris from Stechford. 'They're Nazis who are against anyone blind, disabled, infirm, anyone different. They've tried to incite racial hatred by marching through mixed areas. Alun Rock, part of Stechford, on any normal day has a fabulous atmosphere. There are black, white, Asian, Chinese, every possible community there.'