Socialist Worker

Stop Blunkett and Burnley council

Issue No. 1760

Stop Blunkett and Burnley council

CAMPAIGNERS are pressing ahead to ensure the largest possible turnout at the carnival in Burnley in four weeks time organised by the Anti Nazi League (ANL). They do so in the face of outrageous moves by the police in Lancashire to have the carnival banned.

The police and Burnley Borough Council have applied to home secretary David Blunkett to ban all public events in Burnley on 1 September, the day of the carnival.

The Labour-controlled council took the decision under emergency powers. These were granted to local authorities under reforms introduced by the New Labour government. They mean that the full council has not discussed the application to ban the carnival. Alice Thornber, age 72, has been a Labour councillor in Burnley for six years. She told Socialist Worker, "We need something big and joyful in Burnley that can help bring people together. Most people do not want to be divided. We need to show the BNP that we will not let them get away with scapegoating people. But we cannot sit back and hope the BNP just goes away. That's what my generation learnt in the 1930s."

That is not the lesson learnt by Lancashire police and Burnley council. Chief superintendent John Knowles seeks to justify banning the carnival by claiming it "would attract counter-activity and the risk of trouble is very high".

This is an incredible capitulation to the Nazi BNP. It says that all these peddlers of race hatred have to do to prevent a multiracial festival is to threaten to assemble and the authorities will ban it from taking place. It is not only ANL events that will be under threat if David Blunkett goes along with this line.

The Love Parade multiracial festival in Newcastle has been called off under pressure from the police. The Nazis want to destroy unity between black and white people, and to suppress freedom. Surrendering to their threats encourages them.

Behind police calls for a ban on the ANL carnival and other activities lies a sickening false comparison between the Nazis and those who come together to oppose them. This is like blaming the doctor for the disease.


COUNCIL officers in Burnley refused to give a stall to the ANL at a music festival in one of the town's parks last weekend. That afternoon a 20 year old Asian man, Shamraz Hussain, was found in the park semi-conscious after he was badly beaten by what local people believe was a gang of white youths.

If the Nazis are not stopped, these attacks will only increase further. An ANL stall in Burnley town centre got a really good response.


Nazi presence means violence

NICK GRIFFIN, the BNP leader, has been found guilty of inciting race hatred and denying that Hitler's murder of six million Jews during the Second World War took place.

He wants "to back up the slogan 'Rights for whites' with well directed boots and fists... Power is the product of force and will." David Copeland, the man who murdered three people and maimed scores of others with his bombs in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho two years ago, was a BNP supporter.

He says, "My aim was political...to cause racial war...all the white people would go out and vote for the BNP." The opening of the BNP's headquarters in Welling, south east London, a decade ago led to four racist murders, including Stephen Lawrence, and a 210 percent increase in racist attacks in the area.

The election of a BNP councillor in east London in 1993 brought a 300 percent increase in racist attacks in the area. Those outrages encouraged tens of thousands of people to rally to the Anti Nazi League (ANL) and campaign against the BNP.

The TUC organised a 40,000-strong march through east London in March 1994. It did not increase "the risk of trouble" as Lancashire police claim today. Instead it gave confidence to the majority of people in east London who wanted rid of the BNP, and it helped to unseat its councillor.

Two months later the ANL organised a magnificent march and 150,000-strong carnival in Brockwell Park, south London.

It was the biggest anti-Nazi mobilisation since the 1930s. It was a joyous celebration of everything the Nazis hate and helped isolate them further. How can anyone seriously equate these trade union and ANL events with murderous and cowardly attacks by Nazi thugs?

  • Book transport through your union branch, tenants' group or community organisation to the Burnley carnival on 1 September.
  • Add your name to the petition calling on David Blunkett to let the carnival go ahead. Phone the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333. See the ANL's website: www.anl.org.uk

Organising a united response

ANTI NAZI League campaigners were out in towns across the north of England last weekend.

  • BRADFORD: A stall in the town centre received lots of support, and on Sunday ANL supporters leafleted the Thorpe Edge estate. Ateeq Siddique says, "There were young kids on bikes who took leaflets to give out. One local resident now wants to organise an ANL meeting in the area. These are areas where the BNP have tried to tap the bitterness, but it is clear there is opposition to them."
  • BOLTON: ANL supporters were warmly welcomed when they petitioned following a racist attack on Blackburn Road. Neil McAllister says, "A gang of up to 30 racists armed with baseball bats and iron bars attacked Asian taxi drivers. Details of the attack then appeared on the Nazi National Front's website. "All taxi drivers, black and white, immediately struck until 7.30am the following Monday. They threatened a 48-hour strike if they were not assured that the police were taking strong enough action over the attacks."
  • OLDHAM: Some 120 people attended an ANL meeting with Holocaust survivor Leon Greenman. A new venue had to be found at less than 24 hours notice after Oldham's Liberal Democrat controlled council disgracefully cancelled the original booking. Anti-Nazi campaigners also had a stall in Oldham town centre on Saturday, and canvassed and leafleted the Fitton Hill area on Sunday. "Fitton Hill is supposedly a no-go area for anti-Nazis," says Pete Hicks. "But we found that is not true. There is racism for sure. But there are people there strongly opposed to the BNP."
  • Labour MP Ian Gibson joined other anti-Nazi campaigners in Norwich on Saturday to petition in support of the carnival.

Important dates to remember

No platform for the Nazis. Rally organised by Media Workers Against the Nazis. Tuesday 7 August, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London NW1. Speakers: John Foster, general secretary National Union of Journalists; Nick Cohen, Observer columnist; Jamil Dehlavi, film director; Michael Rosen, writer and broadcaster; Julie Waterson, national organiser Anti Nazi League; speaker from Searchlight anti-fascist magazine.


Stop the Nazis in Birmingham. Assemble 12 noon, Saturday 4 August, outside Stechford Baths, Station Road, Stechford, Birmingham.


Stop the Nazi BNP "festival". Assemble 10am, Saturday 11 August, Welshpool train station.

  • For more details of these protests or to get involved in activities in your area phone the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333.

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Sat 4 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1760
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