The fascist British National Party (BNP) is gearing up for the European elections to be held on 4 June this year – but anti-fascists are out to stop them.
It’s generally been good news for anti-fascists round here.
Over the years we’ve managed to beat back the BNP in all four boroughs of the Black Country – Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley.
Back in 2003, for instance, the BNP were regularly getting strong second place votes.
They came second in a by-election in Walsall’s Hatherton Rushall ward with 746 votes.
But now they’re coming in with poor third places.
We got them down to just 90 votes in Birchills Leamore ward last November. It’s a ward with a history of quite nasty racist attacks – so the BNP were humiliated by that vote.
There’s a similar story in Wolverhampton.
The Nazis were making a strong showing in Wednesfield North ward when they first turned up three or four years ago.
But in last year’s elections they came a poor third with 578 votes – and in a by-election there last October they dropped to just 337 votes.
So consistent campaigning by anti-fascists pays off. Our main activity has been leafleting, both in the run-up to elections and in between elections.
These leaflets warn people that the BNP are fascists and call for a vote against them.
Over the years we’ve built up links with lots of people in area – members of Labour Party, local churches, trade unionists, the Indian Workers Association, community groups, not to mention a host of anti-racist individuals.
We often organise mass leafleting sessions which attract 30 to 40 people to cover a ward.
We work closely with trade union groups, such as Wolverhampton TUC and local branches of the NUT, Unison and FBU, among others.
Now we’re working closely with anti-fascist groups around the West Midlands to try and stop the BNP from gaining a seat at the European elections this June.
We have a regional West Midlands Unite Against Fascism committee that has been meeting monthly for the past four years.
It involves active participation by both trade union officials and lay reps, and is regularly attended by around 15 to 20 people.
We’ve had various ideas for raising the profile of the anti-BNP campaign in coming months, including car cavalcades and a voter registration drive targeting students and ethnic minorities.
We’re also prompting unions to mobilise their members against the BNP.
We need to win an argument with the public at large about why the BNP is a fascist party and why people need to go out and vote against them.
That means campaigning hard across the region, not just where the BNP have a presence, but anywhere where you can reach a lot of people – shopping centres, train stations and the like.