Socialist Worker

Anti-Nazis break ban

Issue No. 1762

Welshpool

STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS STOP THE NAZI NF MARCH 1pm, Saturday 18 August, Sunderland City

Anti-Nazis break ban

THE NAZI British National Party's "festival" near the village of Llanerfyl could take place last weekend only because of the biggest ever police operation in Dyfed Powys, Mid Wales.

Over 150 extra police were drafted in from Shropshire. All local police leave was cancelled. The Merseyside force was also brought in for the operation. Scandalously their aim was to prevent anti-Nazis from protesting against the BNP's "Red, White and Blue" event.

In the first move of its kind, the police ordered a ten-mile exclusion zone around Llanerfyl close to the site of the BNP venue and the nearby town of Welshpool.

Police set up roadblocks on every approach road into the area. They stopped and searched vehicles to turn back protesters opposed to the BNP event entering the area.

The police would only allow people to use the road to Gweithdai Workshops, which led to the BNP festival, if they could prove they lived in the area or if they had BNP passes.

They even let Nazi leader Nick Griffin vet the cars himself.

Every possible piece of police equipment was made use of. Countless police vans, several mobile CCTV vans, dogs and horses were all deployed to allow the Nazi event to go ahead and stop a peaceful anti-Nazi protest taking place.

Many anti-Nazi demonstrators were stopped and turned back when they tried to enter the area of Welshpool.

Anti Nazi League supporters were even stopped from using Welshpool's railway station and entering the town centre to give out leaflets or display posters. Despite all that, many local people joined protests against the Nazis. And the festival itself was a miserable flop.


'They won't go away if ignored'

HELEN MARY Jones is the Plaid Cymru elected representative for the area in the National Assembly for Wales.

She grew up in Welshpool and told Socialist Worker, "It is very important that the peaceful anti-Nazi demonstration went ahead today to show BNP views have no place here. It is a matter of great regret that the Nazi event has been allowed at all. People have to come down off the fence. Community leaders, politicians and political parties have to take a lead and say we will not have the BNP organising. A stand has to be taken at all levels of political life, even if it means being penned in by the police."

Dyfan Jones, a Plaid Cymru executive committee member, explained, "It is important that we join local people and the ANL to protest. The main issues for people here are the growing gap between the rich and poor. This divide is widening no matter who is in power. Nick Griffin has nothing to say about people's concerns for community life under threat by a lack of jobs. Young people have to leave the area in search of work and cannot afford to live here."

Welshpool resident Sion Conlin said, "I'm here protesting against the Nazis because I am trying to defend my family. I was born and bred in Mid Wales. Yet because my partner is from a Gypsy family our children get picked on. The BNP will only stir up racism in the area and sow divisions. If people are desperate then some elements may take it up. This is why I don't believe the BNP should have been allowed to organise here."


BNP 'festival'is a washout

THE BNP predicted it would get 1,000 people to its festival-a launchpad for the local council elections next year.

However, Nick Griffin could only muster the usual hardcore of 150 Nazis last Saturday.

The event started three hours late because of the poor numbers. The showpiece BNP event was planned as a backdrop for Griffin to pose as a respectable politician alongside the police operation.

In the end only 300 Nazi BNP supporters made it to the event over the weekend. This is in line with previous years.

The Nazis were blaming the planned Anti Nazi League protests for putting BNP supporters off coming to the event, claiming 100 had been turned back-but no one was refused entry at the final checkpoint.


Singing out a protest

PEOPLE CAME from across Wales to protest against the BNP rally. Anti Nazi League protesters had to dodge police roadblocks.

A coach of protesters from South Wales was stopped, searched and held for one hour.

Around 150 people made it to Welshpool. Many more were turned back. Anti-Nazis from the Cor Cochion Caerdydd South Wales choir managed to evade the police cordon around Welshpool.

Among them was Ray Davies, a Labour councillor from Caerphilly in South Wales. He said, "The BNP are fascist. In South Wales BNP members desecrated our cenotaph, smashed up our community centre and local pub. If people don't band together to show they can defy the BNP then the BNP will think Mid and North Wales are a soft touch. The people of Welshpool may believe the BNP will go away if they are ignored. They never go away."


'We locals don't approve'

PASSING BY the final police roadblock before the Nazi festival in the quiet village of Llanerfyl a pensioner told Socialist Worker, "It's wrong to hold the BNP event here. We haven't even been asked if we want the event stopped. Locals don't approve, so we are refusing to be interviewed. There will be no locals at the event. All this for the BNP. It must be costing a fortune. We have no bus service in this area. The money should be spent on that."

Another woman who lived in Llanerfyl told Socialist Worker, "I can't believe this is happening here. Viciousness seems to be winning out. The BNP seem to have a great deal of power. Protests against them are not being allowed here, or within ten or 15 miles of here. People here are scared what may happen to them if they openly speak out against the BNP."


SCOTLAND Speaking tour now on

AN ANTI Nazi League stall in Glasgow on Saturday was a great success. Over 40 people leafleted against the BNP.

The racist attacks and murder in Sighthill, which followed a visit to the city by BNP leader Nick Griffin, have underlined the need for an energetic fightback against the Nazis.

  • The Anti Nazi League has organised a series of four meetings in Scotland:

DUNDEE: Thursday 16 August, 7.30pm, Queens Hotel, Nethergate. Speakers include: John McAllion MSP and Aamer Anwar.

GLASGOW: Wednesday 22 August, 7.30pm, Moir Hall, Mitchell Theatre, Berkeley Street. Speakers include: Aamer Anwar and Rozanne Foyer (assistant secretary STUC).

EDINBURGH: Thursday 23 August, 7pm, Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street. Speakers include: Aamer Anwar and Rozanne Foyer.

ABERDEEN: Thursday 30 August, 7.30pm, Music Hall, Union Street.


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News
Sat 18 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1762
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