Socialist Worker

Anti-fascists lay siege to the BBC

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2174

Thousands of anti-fascist protesters stormed the BBC television studios in West London tonight just before Nick Griffin leader of the fascist British National Party (BNP) was due to arrive to record Question Time.

Around 25 protesters broke into the Television Centre grounds, but were dragged out by security and police.

Thousands of people then occupied the road outside the main entrance, ensuring that Griffin could not enter that way, and causing massive disruption of the area around the BBC.

Police were forced to block off the main roads as anti-fascists held their ground.

Griffin was eventually smuggled into the studio via a back entrance.

Meanwhile lines of police prevented protesters from re-entering the studio grounds, though demonstrators came very close to breaking through on a number of occasions.

The demonstration, which continued late into the evening, brought together students, trade unionists, local residents and other anti-fascist campaigners.

Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter and union general secretaries Christine Blower of the NUT and Jeremy Dear of the NUJ were among the protesters. Tony Kearns, the deputy general secretary of the CWU, whose members began naitonal strike action today, also spoke to the assembled protesters.

Hundreds of students from as far afield as Manchester, Leeds, Swansea and Sussex led the singing and chanting that ensured that the angry protest was heard throughout the area.

By the end of the evening, anti-fascists had taken over the entire area outside the front of the BBC. Hundreds of demonstrators then occupied the road outside another entrance to the BBC.

Nusrat Bukhari, a local resident who had helped to build the protest, told Socialist Worker, 'I am delighted with the number of people who turned up for the demonstration. It is really good to see such a mixture of people.

'Growing numbers now understand that the BNP is a fascist party that wants to smash democracy. For many people here this is their first protest. I think the experience will mean many people get more involved and become more political.'

Protesters were angry that the BBC had gone to such extreme lengths to ensure that Griffin was given a platform and that the police also went to such lengths to make it happen.

But it is a huge credit to the anti-fascist movement that Griffin could only appear on Question Time after skulking in the back door protected by van loads of police.

Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, told Socialist Worker, 'The protest was superb. It showed the scale of opposition to the fascists and it was everything Griffin and the Nazi BNP hate.

'We have exposed the Nazis and the liberal arguments of the BBC. The BBC were going for ratings and the BNP were going for racism. But we have laid down the basis tonight for a mass anti-fascist movement that can take the fight forward.'

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