Socialist Worker

A Day at the Racists

by Mark L Thomas
Issue No. 2192

This is a striking new play about the growth of the fascist British National Party (BNP) in an east London borough – a very thinly disguised Barking.

Pete is a disillusioned Labour activist. He is angry because he thinks immigrants are getting council housing ahead of his son.

He thinks that they are undercutting him by working for lower wages. He meets Gina, an Asian woman candidate for the BNP.

She claims that the BNP defends working class British people. And she argues that the party is moving away from its Nazi past.

Despite his strong initial doubts, Pete is convinced. He becomes her campaign organiser.

The tensions inside the BNP and Pete’s head drive the rest of the plot.

The regional BNP organiser is an old school Nazi thug. He spits contempt for both Gina, and her sponsor – “one-eyed Rick”.

This is the BNP leader who wants to break into mainstream politics on the back of winning two seats in the European elections.

During the play, Pete is confronted with the best traditions of the labour movement. They are traditions he once stood for.

Clinton, who used to work with Pete at the local car factory, tells him, “You’re going after the wrong people.

“It ain’t those down at the bottom taking from us, it’s them at the top.”

This is an excellent play about an urgent political question. Yet the characters are not wholly believable.

Pete was expelled from Labour – with the implication that he was on the hard left. He confronted the Nazi National Front in Lewisham in 1977. Are people like this really becoming BNP activists?

Despite these flaws, the play will make both the BNP and New Labour very uncomfortable.

And it raises surprisingly good arguments for working class solidarity.

Written by Anders Lustgarten
Fineborough Theatre, London, SW10 until 27 March and at Barking Broadway Theatre 16 April

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