St Mark’s Church in Gillingham, Kent, have withdrawn their hustings invitation to the British National Party (BNP) thanks to pressure from across the community organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) activists in the area.
Pauline Walker, a UAF activist said, “We decided to put pressure on the church to withdraw the invitation to the BNP but we also planned a mass demonstration outside to stop the BNP from getting a platform.
“The local Green Party candidate, Trish Marchant told us that she had refused to share a platform with the BNP. So we called in trade unionists, the trades council, local faith groups and organisations including the synagogue, mosques and churches, as well as local anti-fascist activists to get the BNP invitation withdrawn.
“We visited the vicar and spoke to the Bishop’s Chaplain, both of whom felt they had no power to withdraw the invitation. We went away and found a headline in the March edition of the CofE’s Rochester Link paper from Bishop Brian saying ‘no platform to the BNP!’
“We visited candidates, wrote to Paul Clark (minister of transport) the Labour Party candidate in Gillingham and Rainham and asked his members to put pressure on him.
“The last we’ve heard was that Jonathan Shaw, Labour candidate in the neighbouring constituency, agreed not to share a platform with the BNP while Paul Clark was still deciding.
“We sent a press release far and wide to local papers, TV and radio, put up posters about the protest around the town, set up a Facebook event which attracted almost 100 people and which will go ahead should the BNP still turn up.
“We have produced and distributed leaflets about who the BNP really are throughout our campaign – and got a great response when we leafleted the Gillingham versus Leeds match a few weeks ago when we distributed over 2,000 leaflets.
“We were absolutely over the moon when we heard from the Bishop’s Chaplain and a member of the local church that we’ve made them withdraw the invitation to the BNP.
“The campaign has been successful, but it isn’t over. We have to keep up the pressure throughout the remaining election campaign and build an even bigger network to clear the Nazi scum off our streets for good.”