Socialist Worker

Anti-fascists rally on eve of BBC protests

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2174

The mood was angry and determined as around 200 people gathered at a Unite Against Fascism rally in central London tonight, on the eve of fascist Nick Griffin's appearance on the BBC's Question Time.

The meeting was a launch pad for the protests at the BBC tomorrow, where hundreds of anti-fascists from across Britain are to join a picket of the BBC.

Speakers at tonight's rally included representatives of the PCS civil service workers union and the Muslim Council of Britain as well as Jerry Dammers, former member of the group The Specials and Martin Smith from Love Music Hate Racism. Ken Livingstone and Peter Hain MP both sent messages of support.

There was a great deal of anger and frustration at the lengths the BBC has gone to in order to offer a platform to the BNP, a fascist organisation. All those present were outraged at reports of the BBC barring anti-fascists from joining the Question Time audience while allowing British National Party (BNP) members to attend.

There was general agreement and applause for a couple of speakers who said that 'something has gone very wrong at the BBC'.

Broadcaster Michael Rosen explained in some detail how the BBC is run according to very stringent codes of practice and does not operate a 'free speech' policy.

Hugh Lamming from the PCS said that the BBC are hypocrites, pointing out that trade unions have more members than the BNP gets votes but the BBC never feel that they are obliged to invite trade unionists onto Question Time.

Several speakers and audience members talked about how mass movements have defeated fascism in the 1930s and 1970s, and how we need to build a mass movement to defeat them again.

Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism pointed out that wherever the Nazis make gains, violence follows. Urging the crowd to ensure a maximum turnout for the protest at the BBC, he said that the demonstration 'is in a tradition that has smashed fascism everytime it has arisen'.

Join the protest all day outside the BBC's White City studio in West London. The main protest is due to take place from 5pm. For more information go to » www.uaf.org.uk

For reports and updates on the demonstration see this site.


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