The campaign against the British National Party (BNP) received a boost last week when two major unions pledged substantial sums to the Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) carnival set for Victoria Park in east London on Sunday 27 April.
“The Unite union has agreed to donate £50,000 to the carnival and the PCS civil service workers’ union will give £30,000,” said Lee Billingham from LMHR. “It’s a great start to our fundraising – but we still need to raise more.”
The carnival is aimed at building the widest movement against the Nazi BNP in the run up to the London Assembly and local elections on 1 May.
It also marks 30 years since the legendary 1978 carnival organised by Anti Nazi League and Rock Against Racism (RAR) that helped block the rise of the National Front.
That event saw bands such as The Clash, The Tom Robinson Band, Steel Pulse and X-Ray Spex play to a huge audience that had marched to Victoria Park from Trafalgar Square.
The 2008 carnival needs around £200,000 to take place. Trade unions – who have traditionally been on the front line of anti-fascist struggles – will be vital in getting these funds together.
LMHR is urging every trade unionist to download a model motion from its website » www.lovemusichateracism.com , pass it at their union branch with a pledge to support the carnival and raise money for it.
Details of the acts booked for the carnival are being kept under wraps at the moment. But Lee promises “an exciting bill of major contemporary acts plus appearances from some of the heroes of the RAR era”.
The plan is to have three stages in the park featuring artists that will “attract an audience of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds,” he adds.
One key message of the carnival will be to urge young people to get out and vote against the BNP. If the anti-Nazi vote on 1 May is large enough to keep the BNP share below 5 percent, that will prevent the fascists from grabbing a seat on the London Assembly.
The carnival is also designed to spread an anti-racist message to young people and to help mobilise the broadest possible movement on the ground against the Nazis.
The BNP has been beset by internal rows of late – partly as a reaction to their failure to make an electoral breakthrough.
But they still have a dangerous foothold in Barking, east London, where they gained 12 council seats in 2006.