Socialist Worker

An urgent fight to stop the Nazi BNP

Weyman Bennett weighs up the threat from the BNP as the European elections approach

Issue No. 2138

The British National Party (BNP) is aiming to win seats in the European parliament in June. The Nazis believe they have the wind in their sails following the walkouts at the Lindsey Oil Refinery.

The party’s deputy leader, Simon Darby, boasted that the party had been represented on all the protests.

The BNP has targeted three regional seats for the European elections – the North West, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside.

In the North West, where party leader Nick Griffin will stand, the BNP needs to secure just 8 percent to get a member elected to the European parliament – a swing of just 2.4 percent.

The West Midlands seat includes Stoke on Trent, which the BNP regard as the jewel in their crown having already secured nine councillors there. Next month sees a council by-election which the BNP is hoping to win.

Last week the BNP came third in a council by-election in Hyde, Greater Manchester, behind Labour, which held the seat, and the Liberal Democrats.

The BNP’s campaign centred on demanding “British jobs for British workers”.

The BNP’s current strategy centres on posing as a respectable political party and hushing up the fact that Nick Griffin has a three decade track record of belonging to Nazi organisations plus a conviction for Holocaust denial.

The fact that a string of prominent party members have been found guilty of racist violence is also kept quiet. Currently the BNP is still avoiding marches and big public rallies. However, it is clearly encouraging members to take to the streets in more discreet ways.

On Thursday of last week a dozen BNP members turned up at the main Olympic site in east London with flags and their “British jobs for British workers” leaflet.

The BNP’s “truth truck” toured Carlisle and other Cumbrian towns earlier this month with a huge billboard proclaiming “Bail Out Britain not the Banksters”.

Campaigning

The Nazis are also campaigning outside their three target areas. Welsh BNP members converged on Port Talbot last Saturday to hand out leaflets in the town centre. The pattern is that the BNP is doing “flash” stalls, appearing unannounced in different places each weekend.

The Nazis hope to gain from the failing fortunes of the UK Independence Party and from Tory voters who feel David Cameron is too soft. The BNP is focusing on three campaign issues – British jobs for British workers, the recession and removal of migrants from Britain.

Its current recruitment campaign boasts that doctors and small businessmen have joined the party. The BNP clearly thinks that an economic downturn will lead to dissatisfaction among middle class people who see no answers being offered by the establishment parties.

All of this gives an added urgency to Unite Against Fascism’s (UAF) national conference on Saturday 21 February. This will be the launchpad for a powerful push to stop the Nazis winning seats in the European elections.

A number of trade union leaders will be speaking. It is vital that in the wake of the walkouts over “foreign workers” that union members are mobilised to isolate the fascists.

UAF will be following up the conference with regional meetings to map out a detailed campaign to ensure the anti-Nazi message gets into the greatest number of hands.

One obvious focus will be the carnival organised by Love Music Hate Racism at Stoke City Football Club’s stadium on 30 May, five days before the European elections.

It is essential that trade union, student and community bodies are present at the UAF conference and the regional meetings.

The vast majority of people oppose the BNP. We have to make sure that that feeling is mobilised to stop them using the crisis to gain influence.

Weyman Bennett is joint national secretary of UAF. He writes in a personal capacity. » www.uaf.org.uk


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Tue 10 Feb 2009, 18:24 GMT
Issue No. 2138
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