Anti-fascists were out in force over the May Day bank holiday weekend campaigning to stop the British National Party (BNP) from grabbing seats in the European elections on 4 June.
There is a lot at stake. The BNP believes it can benefit from the impact of the recession, the meltdown in Labour’s support, and the wider climate of racism around attacks on migrant workers and Muslims.
As Peter Hain, the former Labour cabinet member and co-founder of the Anti Nazi League (ANL), warned last week, “Winning European seats would secure the BNP an unprecedented platform and entitle it to draw down hundreds of thousands of Euros from Brussels to indirectly buttress their full-time personnel and organisation.”
He called for the building of a broad-based campaign to stop the Nazis.
The BNP leader Nick Griffin has attempted to make his Nazi organisation appear “respectable”.
But the mask slipped once again last week when the BNP’s deputy leader Simon Darby attacked Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, as “anti-British” and an “ambitious African”.
Sentamu had spoken out against the BNP after Griffin had defended a party manual that said black and Asian people could not be called “British”.
Darby menacingly said that Sentamu should have “thought about the consequences” of criticising the BNP.
Darby is heading the BNP’s West Midlands list in the European elections. Activists in Unite Against Fascism (UAF) are determined to stop Darby and his Nazi cohorts winning seats.
Martin from the Black Country UAF in the West Midlands told Socialist Worker, “We’ve been busy campaigning for a while now – holding stalls in towns across the area.
“We held a stall at a 200-strong May Day event on Friday of last week organised by Wolverhampton trades council. Lots of people signed up to help with the campaign.
“On Sunday we leafleted families who were out for the day in West Park in Wolverhampton.
“We had stalls on the gates to the park encouraging people to vote on 4 June to stop the BNP, and encouraging people to come to the Love Music Hate Racism Festival in Stoke on 30 May.”
In the BNP’s target seat of North West England, UAF supporters have reported great responses to their activities at May Day events in Manchester, Liverpool and Burnley.
The Manchester May Day march was organised on the theme of “The right to work for all – say no to the BNP”.
A Love Music Hate Racism gig took place at the Castlefield arena after the march.
Matthew, a UAF activist from Oldham, said, “We had a great response at our stall in the town centre. People said how pleased they were to see us and took leaflets to pass on to others.
“People volunteered to get involved in activity in Oldham. There is growing concern about the threat of the BNP.”
Activists were also out leafleting the bank holiday crowds in Sefton Park in Liverpool and different parts of Cumbria and Lancashire on Monday.
UAF activists in London leafleted the major train and underground stations across the city on Friday of last week, as well as holding stalls and mass leafleting over the weekend.
Despite the BNP’s attempts to temporarily restrain their more thuggish elements, some of them slipped off the leash at the weekend and attacked UAF leafleters in Morden, south London.
The UAF members refused to be intimidated and were back leafleting the area the next day.
UAF supporters in London also marked the 10th anniversary of the bombings in Brick Lane, Brixton and Soho by former BNP member David Copeland.
The bombs killed three people in the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho. Many more were injured.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF, said, “Copeland’s bombing campaign ten years ago tells us what the fascists really stand for – murderous violence against minorities and hatred of our multicultural and multi-racial society.
“Today BNP members wear suits and try to pose as being respectable – but their underlying fascist politics have not changed.
“The anniversary reminds us that it is vital for all communities to stand together against fascism. It also underlines the urgent need to defeat the BNP at the ballot box at the European elections.”
For more information and to join the campaign phone 020 7801 2782 or go to » www.uaf.org.uk