The spirit to fight the Nazi BNP is still strong, as the recent Love Music Hate Racism carnival in east London showed. You can catch hightlights of the carnival on Channel 4 this Friday 9 May at 12.25am (Pic: Guy Smallman)
The fascist British National Party (BNP) managed to grab a London assembly seat last week. The fascists also gained a net ten seats in council elections across the country.
The BNP polled 5.3 percent of the London-wide assembly vote, compared to 4.7 percent in 2004. In doing so it broke through the crucial 5 percent barrier needed to gain a seat the London assembly.
Much of this vote came from suburban areas, especially the outer east London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, as well as the south eastern suburbs of Bexley and Bromley.
Elsewhere in the country the BNP made small advances into new areas, such as Rotherham, Nuneaton, Amber Valley and Tilbury in Essex.
It also took a further three seats in Stoke-on-Trent, taking its total there to nine councillors. But the Nazis lost two seats in Epping Forest and a further one in Kirklees.
Anti-fascist campaigning and the high turnout helped to hold the BNP back. In particular, the 100,000-strong Love Music Hate Racism carnival in London held the Sunday before the elections helped bring out the anti-Nazi vote.
But these efforts were not enough to prevent the BNP from benefiting from the storm of racism against Muslims and eastern European immigrants that has been whipped up by the political and media establishment in recent years.
New Labour ministers must also take part of the blame for parroting nationalist rhetoric about “Britishness” and joining in the right wing attacks on our multicultural society.
Anti-Muslim and anti-eastern European racism are becoming more prevalent – even the BBC joined in with its recent “White Season”.
All this plays directly into the hands of the BNP, which has adopted a strategy of distancing itself from overt fascism and reining in its thugs in order to pose as a “respectable” alternative.
Nobody should be fooled by these manoeuvres. The BNP remains committed to driving non-white people out Britain. Beneath the suits, the swastika tattoos remain.
We urgently need a reinvigorated anti-Nazi movement to counter the renewed threat from the BNP.
The majority of working people are repelled by fascism and racism. The left needs to lead a united campaign that brings together people of all backgrounds to drive the BNP back into the gutter.