The fascist British National Party (BNP) is on the march again – but we can build a mass movement to stop them in their tracks. That was the message last weekend coming from Rotherham and Stoke-on-Trent, two key targets for the BNP Nazis.
Some 4,500 young people turned out last Saturday in Rotherham for an indoor carnival against the fascists organised by Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR).
Meanwhile in Stoke, a coalition of anti-racist organisations is calling on people to demonstrate against a planned BNP “national rally” to be held in the city on Saturday 20 September.
The Rotherham carnival – LMHR’s largest indoor event to date – was headlined by The Kaiser Chiefs and included sets from Reverend And The Makers, The Courteeners, hip-hop act Fallacy and poet Skint & Demoralised.
Bands and speakers spoke out against the BNP from the stage and urged the overwhelmingly local and working class audience to get involved in the campaign against the Nazis.
Campaigners with Rotherham Unite Against Fascism (UAF) plan to build on the carnival by leafleting Brinsworth, one of the two wards in the town with a BNP councillor, this weekend.
The Rotherham event was held in the Magna Centre, a former steelworks in the outskirts of the town. It started in the afternoon with performances from local bands and workshops on anti-fascism attended by around 150 people.
A press conference saw local trade unionists, MPs, councillors and community leaders give their backing to the LMHR event and denounce the BNP for being a fascist and racist organisation.
Raji Khan from the Muslim Initiative in Brinsworth said there had been a rise in racist attacks on Asians in the area since the BNP had got elected, including cars being burned out, death threats and families abused in the streets by racists.
“We believe these attacks have been orchestrated by the BNP,” he told the press conference. The police had failed to arrest any of the culprits, he said, adding that there was a problem with police racism.
Agnes Grunwald-Spier spoke movingly about how she had escaped the Nazi Holocaust as a baby in 1944, later fleeing from Budapest with her Hungarian Jewish family. “When I talk to you I have six million people standing behind me,” she said.
“The BNP’s leader Nick Griffin is a Holocaust denier. People must understand the message that what the BNP stands for is evil. The words ‘never again’ have to mean never again.”
Rotherham’s Labour MPs John Healey and Denis MacShane also gave their backing to the LMHR event. “This is a great way to take the anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-BNP message to young people,” said John Healey.
The main event started in the evening in a cavernous hall that had once been the shopfloor of the steelworks, specially converted into a stage for the night.
The music was interlaced with speakers from campaigns raising issues ranging from Stop the War to defending the rights of asylum seekers.
“This is not just a music festival – it’s a protest festival,” said the event’s compere Andy Brammer from Wakefield UAF.
The night ended with stunning sets from Reverend And The Makers and The Kaiser Chiefs. People left the Magna Centre buzzing – and determined to fight back against the Nazi BNP both locally and across the country.
Jon McClure of Reverend And The Makers spoke to Socialist Worker about why he initiated the Rotherham Love Music Hate Racism indoor carnival. The interview will be posted on this site later this week.
For more on LMHR go to » www.lovemusichateracism.com