'Create climate against Nazis'
TENS OF thousands of people attended the TUC's Respect festival in Finsbury Park, north London, on Saturday. It sent a powerful message against the Nazi BNP and racism. Yet Burnley council in the north west of England does not want such displays of unity.
It has applied to the Home Office to ban an Anti Nazi League carnival planned for 1 September. It is a disgraceful move that can only encourage the Nazis who are trying to grow in the area. Seven years ago a 150,000-strong ANL carnival in south London and a 40,000-strong TUC march against racism through east London were crucial to stemming the rise of the BNP.
Anti-Nazis and trade unionists in the north west of England know that mass events in Burnley, Oldham and other areas are a vital part of beating back the BNP. The councils in both towns say they are opposed to the BNP, but are turning their fire on the forces ranged against the Nazis. Oldham council, controlled by the Liberal Democrats, this week cancelled the venue of a major ANL rally.
And the Oldham Chronicle, which has given space to the BNP, refused to take a paid advert from the ANL for the rally. Undeterred anti-Nazi campaigners are pressing ahead with building for the rally at an alternative venue. ANL supporters in Oldham last week visited trade unionists to win support for the rally and carnivals.
One ANL member told Socialist Worker, "We got a really good response from members of the USDAW union in Littlewoods. The shop steward said they were supporting the rally. Our activity has opened a debate inside workplaces and communities. Where people put the arguments exposing the BNP as Nazis it has a big impact."
Large numbers of black and white people signed petitions and took anti-Nazi leaflets from an ANL stall in the centre of Oldham on Saturday. Another stall in Chadderton, an area of Oldham where the Nazis are trying to build, got a similar level of support. "We got the same reaction to an ANL stall in Keighley," says Ateeq Siddique. "It was the first political stall in the area, which is next to Bradford, for years. A local stallholder thanked us for organising the activity. People were really pleased we were there, as the Nazis have been threatening to cause trouble in the town just as they did in Bradford."
Anti-Nazis were also out in Bradford, where an ANL rally was due to take place on Thursday of this week, and in Burnley. Campaigners in Bradford were out in the Undercliffe area of the city, targeted by the BNP, on Monday building support for the ANL rally. Ateeq said, "Most people are opposed to the Nazis. But we need to create the climate where that becomes obvious. Every activity helps boost people's confidence."
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, Mid Wales
For more details of these protests or to get involved in activities in your area phone the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333