Thousands of anti-fascists laid siege to the BBC’s studios in London on Thursday of last week as fascist British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin was handed an unprecedented publicity coup on Question Time.
“I am the most loathed man in Britain,” Griffin told the Question Time audience—a statement that was certainly true for the students, trade unionists and local residents who thronged the streets outside the BBC’s Television Centre.
This was like no other Question Time—it was filmed in siege-like conditions behind van-loads of police.
Griffin was only able to get into the studio by being smuggled in a back door after anti-fascists occupied the road in front of the main entrance.
Outrageously, the BBC hid behind claims of “impartiality” to hand a Nazi organisation a platform to peddle racist and homophobic lies.
The BNP is not interested in an exchange of views—it wants to build a fascist movement on the ground that can implement its calls for an “all-white Britain”.
It is now set to consolidate its links with European fascists—an official alliance was formed just days after the Question Time appearance.
Members of the new Europe-wide Nazi group include the French National Front, the Jobbik party of Hungary and the National Democrats of Sweden—fascist organisations that have viciously targeted Muslims, Roma and migrants.
The Unite Against Fascism (UAF) protest nearly stopped Griffin. Around 30 protesters broke through into the studios but were dragged out by security and police.
Other anti-fascists came very close to breaking through and were only held back by security gates and lines of police.
Large groups of students from Leeds, Manchester, Plymouth and Sussex joined the protest.
A group of 35 students came from Essex university—and returned determined to build a UAF group that could work with the local community to combat the threat of the BNP in their area.
First year Essex student Saul Jones told Socialist Worker, “People need to be made aware that fascism is not the norm and that we have a history of resisting it in our society.”
Alfred Mayaki, a fourth year student, was impressed that the protest represented the “embodiment of modern Britain—a diverse yet united generation of outspoken young anti-fascists”.
There were banners and flags from the PCS, FBU, RMT and TSSA unions, as well as delegations from many union branches and workplaces.
Kerry Abel, the TSSA’s equalities officer, told Socialist Worker, “The union movement has a proud history of opposing fascism. The BNP doesn’t speak for us—why should it be given the legitimacy of appearing on a flagship BBC programme?”
The demonstration—and the build up to it—changed the terms of the debate around the BNP, and made sure that the label of “fascist” was firmly pinned on Griffin. And it certainly showed the scale and ferocity of anti-fascist feeling.
Hanna Ben, a local resident, came along to see what was going on and joined the demonstration. “We want to live in an equal society. The BNP’s ideas are unacceptable. We have to oppose the whole system of hatred against minorities.”
There were also protests at the BBC in Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol and elsewhere.
For other articles on the protest go to » Selected Anti-fascism articles