Socialist Worker

Rallying Stoke to drive back the fascist BNP

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2112

Anti-Nazi activists campaigning in Stoke last Saturday  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Anti-Nazi activists campaigning in Stoke last Saturday (Pic: Socialist Worker)



Stoke day of action

Campaigners are stepping up the fight against the fascist British National Party (BNP) across the country.

Around 30 anti-fascist activists distributed leaflets across the ward of Bentilee & Townsend in Stoke-on-Trent last Saturday.

Members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) and the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (Norscarf) teamed up for what will be the first of several days of action against the BNP in Stoke.

The BNP sees Stoke as one of their strongholds where they can make a major breakthrough.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, said a key priority of last Saturday’s day of action was to draw together and organise a local base against the Nazis. “To stop the BNP, we need to be bigger and better than them,” he said.

The BNP hold all three council seats in Bentilee ward, but it would be wrong to characterise the area as some kind of fascist stronghold or as a “no go area” for anti-BNP campaigners.

“We had a positive response from most local people,” said Dave Sewell, who had come from Manchester to support the day of action against the fascists.

“A lot of people told us that they were really fed up with the BNP.”

The BNP has been targeting Stoke for several years now and currently holds nine seats on the council. Many people are worried that the Nazis could win the post of Stoke’s elected mayor when it comes up for election in May next year.

Jason Hill, secretary of Norscarf, says the BNP has been feeding off widespread anger and disillusionment with Labour and the other mainstream parties in Stoke.

The city is run by a New Labour mayor whose cabinet includes Tories and Liberal Democrats.

The mainstream parties have presided over a regime of cuts, closures and the privatisation of public services from care homes to swimming pools.

The fascists have built their vote steadily over the years, added Jason, by posing as “community activists” that perform odd jobs such as mowing lawns and collecting rubbish for local people.

The BNP is also threatening to hold a national rally in Stoke to whip up race hatred against Muslims.

But last week the Nazis announced that they have once again postponed the date of their proposed event – this time to 20 September.

Anti-fascists in Stoke are now intensifying their campaign to expose the BNP as Nazis.

They plan a series of events throughout August and September leading up to a “Stoke Unites” anti-fascist rally on Saturday 4 October.


East Midlands UAF

Trade unions and anti-Nazi activists across the East Midlands last week came together to form a regional Unite Against Fascism group to campaign against the BNP in the area and in the run-up to next year’s European elections.

As one of its first actions, East Midlands UAF has called a protest and rally against the BNP’s “Red, White and Blue” hate-fest, due to be held in the village of Codnor, Derbyshire, on Saturday 16 August.

The anti-BNP protest will take place at 11am, with coaches to the event leaving from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Coventry. For contact details, assembly points and start times go to the UAF website at » www.uaf.org.uk


Rotherham

A Facebook site set up to oppose the election of two BNP councillors in Rotherham celebrated notching up 1,000 members in a few weeks.

The group was created by 20 year old Laura Hopkins, the day after May’s election result was announced. “I created the group due to the BNP’s policies discriminating against the gay community and know of instances where friends have been abused,” Laura said.

The group has been active in promoting the Love Music Hate Racism carnival at the Magna centre on 6 September and organising activities.

Phil Turner


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Article information

News
Tue 29 Jul 2008, 18:10 BST
Issue No. 2112
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