Trade unionists and other anti-fascist campaigners across the Midlands region are gearing up to protest against a fascist rally due to be held by the British National Party (BNP) in Derbyshire next Saturday 16 August.
The BNP’s annual “Red, White and Blue” hate-fest takes place in the village of Codnor on private farmland owned by BNP member Alan Warner. Amber Valley council has refused the event an alcohol and music licence.
The protest has been called by a variety of organisations including East Midlands Unite Against Fascism (UAF). It is supported by Notts, Mansfield & Nottingham trades council and Midlands TUC, among others.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is one of the many trade unions backing the demo against the BNP. Mickey Nicholas, who represents black and ethnic minority members on the union’s national executive, told Socialist Worker why the FBU was supporting the protest.
“We believe that historically, morally and politically, the BNP is a Nazi, fascist party,” he said. “They exist purely to cause division and disruption in our communities through violent means.”
Dave Green is the FBU’s East Midlands national executive member. He says the union started getting involved in the anti-fascist movement locally last year, which was the first time the BNP held its Red, White and Blue event in Derbyshire.
“It’s unacceptable that the BNP feels it can operate in this region,” he told Socialist Worker. “We want to make sure they know they’re not wanted here.”
The FBU actively spreads the anti-fascist message through the union, Dave adds, to ensure members know the true nature of the BNP.
“We cannot forget what happened with the Nazis 60 years ago. That’s why we want to mobilise as many people on this protest as we possibly can.”
Lee Barron, Midlands regional secretary of the CWU postal workers’ union, is also supporting the anti-BNP protest.
“It’s essential that we get involved in the campaign against the Red, White and Blue event,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s not something we want, and it’s not something that local people are supporting either.
“So we will be protesting against the BNP’s message of racism. But at the same time we have to lobby politicians over their policies.
“We need policies that can help working people, not ones that isolate them and drive them into the arms of the fascists.”
Local trade unionists have been working closely together to help organise the protest.
Richard Buckwell, secretary of Notts, Mansfield & Nottingham trades council, told Socialist Worker, “We don’t want a fascist festival in the East Midlands.
“We’ve been quite successful in restricting the BNP’s activities in the region.
“A fascist festival is an insult to the multicultural population of the East Midlands.”
Local Labour MP Bob Laxton said, “Living as I do in Derby just down the road from Codnor I am well aware of the concerns expressed by local residents about this Red, Blue and White rally and I am pleased that a protest against their fascist activities is being organised.”
The BNP describes its annual rally as “a celebration of the culture of white Europeans”.
But the testimony of a former BNP organiser to the BBC’s Panorama programme reveals the true nature of the event.
“When the cameras weren’t there, the mask came off as well,” he said. “There were racist jokes – and when the songs started the response was the stiff, right arm fascist salute widespread amongst the audience.
“There was no suggestion from [BNP leader] Nick Griffin or the stewards that this was unwelcome. Then, late in the evening in the beer tent, they were playing SS marching songs on a cassette.
“Nick Griffin was there, as were members of the leadership group. This was all seen as perfectly normal.”
The ugly atmosphere of the Red, White and Blue hate-fest has even turned BNP councillors away from the organisation.
Maureen Stowe was elected as a BNP councillor in Burnley in 2003, but she quit the party a few months later after realising their true nature.
“I went to the Red White and Blue festival last summer,” she said in 2004. “I was only there for ten minutes on the Sunday and I didn’t like what I saw. It was really nasty.
“I could never understand why all those people were calling the BNP fascists. Well I do now. Don’t vote for them. They are not what they seem and, like me, you’ll regret it.”
The protest against the Red, White and Blue festival is at 11am in the village of Codnor, Derbyshire, on Saturday 16 August.
Coaches have been booked from several nearby towns and cities. They include:
- Birmingham: 9.30am, Carrs Lane
- Coventry: 9am, Fairfax Street Baths
- Derby: 10am, Council House, Corporation Road
- Leicester: 9am, Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate
- Nottingham: 9am, The Salutation, Maid Marion Way
- Chesterfield: 9.30am, Town Hall, Rose Hill, or 9.45am, Somerfield car park, Clay Cross
- Stoke-on-Trent: 8.30am, outside Toys R Us, Ridgehouse Drive, Festival Park
For more information on the protest, including contact phone numbers, go to the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) website at » www.uaf.org.ukor call the UAF office on 020 7833 4916.