Socialist Worker

Trade unions boost the battle for Barking

by Mark L Thomas
Issue No. 2195

Around 170 anti-fascists leafleted and knocked on doors in Barking, east London, last weekend as part of a National Union of Teachers (NUT) day of action.

They put the case for why no one should vote for the Nazi British National Party (BNP).

Some 26 teams canvassed three key wards—giving out 15,000 leaflets.

Delegations of teachers came from schools and union groups across London.

They were joined by other anti-fascist ativists from across London.

Abde teaches in Leyton. He said, “If the BNP win control here, it will make it very difficult to be a teacher if, like me, you are from another background.

“The BNP doesn’t want migrants. But London wouldn’t function for a day without them. Look at the hospitals or the tube. We don’t need racism that sets us against each other.”

NUT members came from Lambeth, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and across London.

Other union delegations came from Unison union branches at Tower Hamlets and Camden councils, and Homerton hospital.

A group of local black teen­agers also joined the day of action.

Scott Cooke, who teaches at Newham Sixth Form college, explained why he had decided to come along.

“The threat is serious. Wherever the BNP has a presence violence follows.

“We can’t ignore them. If they get more votes, it increases the confidence of the racists.”

Pandering

Scott also pointed out that when the BNP is successful, mainstream parties respond by pandering to racism. The whole political climate can be shifted towards the right.

One small sign of how that can happen is illustrated by glossy leaflets from the Tory party stuffed through letterboxes in the Alibon ward.

They proclaim, “Unlike Labour we will control immigration properly” and suggest there is “extra pressure” on everything from schools, housing, to the police and public transport from immigration.

Far from undermining the BNP, these arguments only serve to help legitimise their racist message of hate.

But the BNP can be beaten—the response on the doorsteps demonstrated that. The majority were opposed to the BNP.

Some were disillusioned with Labour but saw stopping the BNP as a reason to vote this time.

There were some solid BNP supporters, but they mostly didn’t want to argue. There were also people who said they are thinking of voting for them but aren’t certain.

The more anti-fascists go on the doorstep to explain that the BNP are a Nazi party who offer nothing to working class people, the greater the chance of stopping the BNP making a breakthrough in Barking.

The next UAF day of action in Barking is on Sunday 11 April and is sponsored by the PCS civil service union


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