A great success against the Nazis
THE ANTI-Nazi majority seized the initiative and took to the streets last weekend. The anti-Nazi activity was centred around Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, areas where the Nazi BNP increased its vote in the general election. Local people were joined by people from London, Sheffield, Glasgow, Nottingham and Tyneside in the mass leafleting.
Black and white, old and young, trade unionists, community campaigners and Labour Party members all came together to oppose the Nazis. Anti-Nazi campaigners also leafleted other areas where the BNP gained significant votes in the general election such as Barking, Dagenham, Hayes and Tipton.
Over 40,000 homes were given Anti Nazi League (ANL) leaflets. Many people joined the ANL and wanted to build next month's carnival against the Nazis in Oldham on 20 October.
"TODAY HAS been a huge boost for those of us in Oldham who have been campaigning against the BNP. It points forward to a successful carnival in October. We will see you there-in greater numbers."
That's what Pete Hick from the ANL in Oldham told activists at the end of a day of leafleting on Saturday. Over 200 people spread out through the town, getting the anti-Nazi message across to thousands of others.
Michelle Spandow and her 11 year old son, Mark, had travelled from Mill Hill, north west London, to help out.
She told Socialist Worker, "I am so pleased we came here today. We got a good response from many people. There was also a group of four men, influenced by the BNP, who tried to intimidate us. They failed. Me and Mark were not going to be put off by that. It convinced me why what we did today was so important in giving confidence to the anti-Nazi majority in Oldham. I work with people with learning disabilities. My fiance is Asian. Our neighbours are black and white, Jewish and non-Jewish, and from many countries around the world. I believe in democracy and a decent future for everybody. The Nazis stand against me on those counts alone-as well as many more."
Martin Gleeson is an MSF union convenor at the Zetex electronics factory in Oldham. He helped organise the mass leafleting and said, "When I saw the ambitious plans last week to get so many areas covered, I could scarcely believe it would happen. But it did. And it was a joy to behold. This will have a real impact in Oldham and is a step to upping the campaign here and across the country."
Bryan Beckingham, an activist in the Labour Party and NUT union in Oldham, told Socialist Worker:
"We are taking the campaign deep into the trade unions. They are crucial to the fight against racism and fascism. We have already had an affiliation from the AEEU union for a trade union campaign against the BNP."
Caroline Bedale, secretary of UNISON Manchester Community and Mental Health branch, said, "Our branch has been discussing how to support activities against the BNP.
"It is really important to expose what they stand for. When people understand the danger they want to become involved. We've got to make this an overwhelming response." Jackie Thomas, a schoolteacher from Bristol, said, "This is the first time I've done anything like this. But I'm determined that we show the other side, the majority side, after the BNP have been given such a soft time in the media." Brendan Keville is the equal opportunities officer for Salford University student union, not far from Oldham.
He said, "We are going to have a major recruitment drive for the ANL when students return in a couple of weeks. This is an issue for everybody. We are in a good position to get a big turnout for the carnival. There are all sorts of activities people can do-from fundraisers to supporting activities like today."
OVER 20,000 ANL leaflets were given out in areas in Burnley which have been targeted by the Nazis. Campaigners defied a heavy police operation to get the anti-Nazi message across. They leafleted over half of Burnley's two parliamentary constituencies.
Peter Thorne, branch secretary of Burnley UNISON and a member of Burnley Trades Council, told Socialist Worker, "By going out and giving people ANL leaflets we also aim to stop the BNP winning seats in Burnley Wood, Fulledge or anywhere in Burnley. There are problems here and the BNP will try to exploit them. But we are the majority and we intend to stop them. We are going to continue to campaign against racism and the Nazis by supporting the anti-Nazi carnival in Oldham on 20 October. Burnley Trades Council has approached the North West TUC to support a public meeting against racism."
Peter Jones, branch secretary of Burnley NATFHE, who is on the national executive of the lecturers' union, said, "Loads of people have said to me, 'We didn't really know what we were doing and we wouldn't vote for the BNP again'." "We achieved what we wanted to," reports Alice Thornber, a 72 year old Burnley Labour councillor. "I led a big group of people around the ward I represent and we got ANL leaflets to residents in their homes. People were so pleased to see us."
Pauline Farrell from Burnley Socialist Alliance said, "We got to speak to loads of people who took the ANL leaflets. A group of nine locals worked with around 30 people who came to help us. It was great. People came from Nottingham, Sheffield and Liverpool."
The leafleting has transformed the atmosphere in many areas. Tony Fallows, branch secretary of Blackburn GMB, who lives in Burnley, told Socialist Worker:
"Residents we spoke to were aware of the anti-Nazi mood created in the area. Now we have to continue to get an ANL leaflet to people in every home in Burnley."
BRADFORD: 30 people from as far away as Newcastle, York and Halifax delivered 5,000 ANL leaflets in the Bradford North area of Eccleshill. This is the ward where the BNP is to stand a candidate in next May's council elections.
BARKING: Over 50 people leafleted 7,500 homes, covering all the large council estates in the centre of the borough. The following day 3,000 homes in neighbouring Dagenham were leafleted.
HAYES: Two dozen ANL supporters leafleted in Hayes in west London on Saturday.
Carnival against the Nazis
Saturday 20 October, Werneth park, Oldham Called by North West TUC and Oldham United Against Racism For more details phone the ANL on 020 7924 0333 or visit www.anl.org.uk