Resistance against fascism is on the rise
The media seized on the election of Sharon Wilkinson, a fascist British National Party (BNP) member, as a county councillor in Burnley, Lancashire, as evidence of the onward march of the BNP and its consolidation in the town.
The reality is somewhat different. The BNP’s vote dropped from 27 percent in the last county council elections to 19 percent two weeks ago.
Outside its core areas of support in Hapton and Padiham the BNP campaign was remarkably low key. The BNP won in Padiham with 30 percent of the vote, with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats getting around 25 percent each.
The campaign against the BNP was larger and involved more people than in previous years. In nearby Pendle a vigorous Unite Against Fascism (UAF) campaign has held the BNP back.
Labour was wiped out across Burnley in the county council elections. Burnley’s Labour MP Kitty Ussher has been implicated in the expenses scandal.
And at the last meeting of Burnley borough council, which was under Liberal Democrat control, a disgraceful carry on took place.
Because of the resignation of a Liberal Democrat councillor, it was possible for the combined opposition parties to unseat council leader Gordon Birtwhistle.
Labour put a motion to this effect, which was backed by the Tories and the BNP councillors. The vote failed because one Labour councillor couldn’t stomach this level of collusion with the BNP and abstained.
If the vote had gone the other way we could have had the scenario of negotiations between Labour, the Tories and the BNP to elect a new council leader.
Inside the council, no platform for fascists means that there should be no cosy chats in corridors or drinks after meetings with BNP councillors. There should be no opportunities for BNP councillors to appear alongside Labour councillors in photos in the local paper.
All these have been features in Burnley recently. We must oppose Sharon Wilkinson’s presence on Lancashire County Council. Councillors and council officials must ostracise her. When she opens her mouth it must be pointed out that she is a member of a Nazi party.
Andy Makin, Burnley
A young and vibrant demonstration of around 150 people against the BNP took place in Birmingham on Tuesday of last week.
School students, trade unionists and other people, all angry about a fascist party winning MEPs in a multicultural society, joined the protest.
A year 11 student from Small Heath School in Birmingham was so appalled to hear that the BNP had been elected that she made posters and put them up around her school. Many of her fellow students then came to the protest.
Protesters were determined that we would not stand back and let the fascist BNP organise in our city.
People went away from the demonstration feeling much more confident that we have a real movement on the ground that we can stop the fascist BNP from making further gains.
Another student from Small Heath School addressed the protest, saying, “I’m a British Pakistani and I’m a Muslim. We live in a multicultural society and the BNP don’t represent us.”
Sadia Jabeen, Birmingham
We woke up on the morning of Monday of last week depressed and angry after BNP leader Nick Griffin’s election to the European parliament.
But then we got a text message telling us to join a protest against the BNP at Lancaster town hall. Over 120 people joined the demonstration, and we even had a march round the town centre.
Anti-fascists are now planning to hold a public meeting, with the help of the NUT teachers’ union, on 14 July to plant a flag against fascism in the town. Griffin does not represent us.
Eugene Doherty and Audrey Glover, Lancaster
The incredible UAF protest against Nick Griffin’s press conference outside parliament on Tuesday of last week got amazing media coverage. At short notice around 70 people mobilised to stop the BNP’s attempt to hold a “respectable” press stunt.
We chased him off College Green and into his car, as he was splattered with eggs and soaked with water.
It was a beautiful thing to see Britain’s leading Nazi absolutely terrified and running to his car. However it saddened me to see so-called “liberal” commentators turn this fascist into a victim. They started lecturing anti-fascists about the need to “engage” with the BNP.
How exactly you engage with an organisation that believes black and Asian people in Britain are “racial foreigners”, wants an all-white Britain and whose leader denies the Holocaust is beyond me.
Perhaps we should explain to politicians that, while they may steal our money for duck houses and flat screen TVs, if fascists get in they will use our money to spread race hatred and violence.
James Haywood, South London
We must act now
Suddenly there is a yawning gap for a new socialist party to the left of Labour. But time is short.
A Tory victory at the next general election, the eviction of the rotten Blair/Brown crowd from Labour’s leadership, the recruitment of the new British-based Barack Obama generation and Labour could look electable again.
Anyone who doubts this should attend Tony Benn’s meeting at this year’s Marxism event in early July.
He will say, “I told you so! I always predicted New Labour would implode!” Benn’s meetings are a model exposition on the durability of left reformism. Revolutionary socialists have much to learn from his extraordinary life.
Yet Benn faces the same problem that we do. Left reformism has led us to the present impasse.
Old Labour’s “socialism from above” collapsed under Thatcherite pressure precipitating “New” Labour.
Our challenge is to use the parliamentary system where millions of working people assume “politics” happens to promote the case for socialism from below.
A potential socialist MP faces his or her audience and says, “We’ve had 100 years of trying it this way. Please don’t rely only on me. Rely on yourselves. Only your political intelligence, only your mass activity can change the world.”
But, as I say, time is short...
John Rose, East London
Blitz Boris not strikers
The shenanigans of the media and London mayor Boris Johnson during the tube strike were an absolute outrage.
They came together to spout lies about the strength of the strike, and attempted to recruit to their cause anyone who travelled to work in London during the two days.
Invoking a fictional “Blitz spirit”, Johnson saluted strikebreakers and commuters as heroes.
He said, “I salute the grit, determination and spirit shown by all Londoners and transport staff in keeping London moving during this completely unnecessary strike action.
“They have shown that a strike will not bring the city to a halt.”
A number of right wing newspapers claimed that anyone who used a bus, train, tram or boat to get to work was “defying” the strikers.
They were attempting to turn reality on its head – by saying that people going to work as normal were in fact resisting the union. The people doing the defying are the RMT union members striking for workers’ rights.
I, like many members of the travelling public, want nothing to do with Johnson’s games. I support the strikers. I hope others follow their example.
Katherine Branney, East London
A wheely good tube strike
Well done to the RMT union for their magnificent strike action on London Underground last week.
Central London came to a standstill, once again demonstrating the power that ordinary workers have at their command.
As a cyclist I was doubly impressed. The roads and cycle lanes were jam-packed, but the bicycles kept on moving.
So come the revolution, “Get on yer bike. You have nothing to lose but your chain!”
Adam Di Chiara, East London
It’s time to get involved
I am a radical thinker, but have avoided affiliation in the past. I have always held Marxist ideals close to my heart.
The turning point for me has been the rise of fascism in this country.
I do not want to see history repeat itself and I realise that it is only through direct action that the tide of the right wing can be changed.
I am self-employed but have no aspirations to get rich or hold a position of power over others, but as a matter of principle stand up to those that do.
Stereotypes to me are meant to be challenged at all levels of society.
This is not just as an ideal but as an expression of free will and pure democratic rights.
Andrew Potts, East London
Black is a political word
I would like to take issue with Paul Murphy’s dislike of the slogan, “Black and white, unite and fight” (» Letters, 6 June).
From a scientific viewpoint races don’t exist but in the real world, with its racism, they do.
The word “black” is political.
It is an acknowledgement that racism has its roots not in skin colour as such but in our rulers’ justification for slavery and imperialism.
“Black and proud” was a slogan of the fight for black liberation.
This is despite the fact that many black people are not “black” and that the majority of people of recent African descent in the US and Caribbean are related to “white” people.
Gary McFarlane, North London
BA managers flying low
There seems to be an annual attack on workers at British Airways (BA) (» BA launches big attack on workers, 13 June).
The article you wrote last year about BA management laughing about job cuts speaks volumes about this ridiculous company.
Good to see the workers at BA sticking together for once.
Let’s hope the unions support them.
Andrew, West Drayton, Middlesex
Majority want out of Europe
Socialist Worker claimed (» What lies behind UKIP’s success?, 13 June) that UKIP could not repeat its European election success in a general election because pushing for Britain to leave the European Union is a “niche position”.
This is not the case.
A recent poll commissioned from ComRes by the BBC found that 55 percent of people in the EU favour a withdrawal from the union.
Daniel Oxley, East London
Electrifying British debut
I was delighted to read Roger Huddle’s article on the great jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman (» Take this chance to catch Ornette Coleman’s jazz, 6 June).
I was lucky enough to attend Coleman’s legendary British debut concert in 1965, which has recently been reissued on CD as Croydon Concert.
I would urge interested readers to check out the electrifying and passionate music captured on this marvelous CD.
Dave Taylor, Hampshire