ANTI-NAZI campaigners in Britain have issued an urgent call - take to the streets against the Nazi British National Party (BNP). The BNP is standing a record number of candidates across 219 wards in the 1 May elections. They hope to feed off people's bitterness with the mainstream parties. The BNP's politics of racism and scapegoating have been fuelled by press and politicians' hysteria against asylum seekers.
The BNP's 'respectable' image hides a Nazi organisation whose leaders include people who have denied the Holocaust ever happened and have been convicted for race hatred and violence. Anti-Nazi campaigners are distributing Don't Vote Nazi leaflets in the wards where the BNP is standing and mobilising every time its candidates appear. A visible anti-Nazi presence in workplaces and communities is a blow to the BNP. Next Saturday, 26 April, is a key date.
The TUC and Unison have called a Unite Against Racism march, rally and gig in Manchester that day. This day of action is an important declaration by the unions that the north west of England should be a Nazi-free zone. This is an area where the Nazis have conned voters into electing five BNP councillors.
Richard Searle is a Unison member in Manchester council and a leading member of the local Stop the War Coalition. He described how Unison has been building for the demonstration:
'Already stewards have had leaflets and are getting them out to their members. There is real potential for wide support for the march,' he said. 'The Unison region has also contacted the Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition and asked it to publicise the march round its supporters. That spirit of unity on the anti-war protests can be carried over in a powerful movement to stop the Nazis.'
Unison is also running coaches from regions across Britain to get delegations of its members to Manchester. Anti-Nazi activists will be encouraging the marchers to help leaflet houses the day after the Manchester demonstration in wards with BNP candidates in Oldham and Burnley.
These activities in the north west are part of a mobilisation against the Nazis across the whole of Britain in the final weekend before the elections. Wherever anti-Nazis have been active, they report a positive response from local people.
In Burnley 30 people, including Labour Party members, Anti Nazi League supporters and members of the trades council, targeted four wards in Burnley, leafleting people's homes against the Nazis. Campaigners are also mobilising in the north east of England, where the BNP is standing candidates across Sunderland and in Gateshead.
In the south of England campaigners went round the ward of Rottingdean Coastal in Brighton and Hove last Sunday. They used a leaflet against the BNP candidate published by the TGWU union branch in the area, and another produced by a local group in support of refugees. In Devon campaigners have had an open letter published in the local press against BNP candidates as part of their activities.
The open letter was signed by the south west branches of the TUC, GMB and PCS unions, and various local organisations. Anti-Nazis in Bedford are letting local voters know that the BNP candidate for Putnoe ward is a former Group 4 guard at the local Yarl's Wood refugee detention centre.
The centre burnt down last year after what Group 4 calls a 'riot' by inmates. Eyewitnesses report refugees reacted after a woman refugee was restrained. The BNP has not been boasting about its result in last week's by-election in Barkingside in south east London. It came fourth with just 116 votes, 3.8 percent of the vote.
However, the Nazis are putting every effort into the elections on 1 May. All those who hate what the Nazis stand for should join the Don't Vote Nazi campaign and not let the BNP pretend it is a 'respectable' party.
UNITE AGAINST RACISM
March in Manchester on Saturday 26 April
Assemble at 10.30am at Castlefield Basin, Liverpool Road
Rally at 12 noon in Albert Square
Concert at 7pm at the Apollo
Called by Unison and the TUC
For details of the events planned phone the ANL on 020 7924 0333 or go to www.anl.org.uk