Socialist Worker

New forces join the fight to challenge the Nazi BNP

Issue No. 1851

IT'S NOW time to build a mass campaign, uniting all those who want to stop the Nazis. The BNP stood 54 candidates in the north east of England and poured in massive resources. They failed to win a seat but the Nazis still managed to get over 13,000 votes in Sunderland and 3,000 in Gateshead.

This was the backdrop to the excellent meeting held in Sunderland last week to launch a united campaign against the BNP in the north east. The meeting was called by Unison. Among the speakers were Kevin Rowan, TUC regional secretary, Gill Hale, Unison regional secretary, and Rahana Azam of the GMB.

Over 90 people attended including local Labour councillors, representatives and branch officers from the TGWU, Unison, GMB, Natfhe, CWU and NUT unions, as well as local anti-racist groups and the Anti Nazi League. It was far and away the most representative labour movement meeting there has been here for many years.

A region-wide shop stewards meeting on combating fascism was proposed. The Durham Miners' Gala, one of the biggest events in the labour movement calendar, is to have anti-fascism as one of its central themes. Cultural and musical events are to be organised in the area.
Yunus Bakhsh national executive committee member Unison, Clare Williams convenor Northern Region Unison

THE CITY of Sunderland is free from Nazi councillors despite a concerted effort by the BNP. They stood in all 25 wards and openly declared they were poised to take seats from Labour.

Labour have dominated the council since time immemorial. They have presided over large areas of the city deteriorating. And the only growth area in jobs is call centres. The BNP focused on the issue of asylum seekers. There are only 1,000 asylum seekers in a city of 300,000, but the BNP did build a base of support, especially in the north of the city.

Their failure to secure a seat was due to several factors, their own arrogance and the resilience of working class people. Another factor was the campaign against them.

This was led by the city's two main unions, the GMB and especially Unison. I met lots of union members in meetings who were enthusiastic about campaigning to stop the Nazis.

The campaign to drive the Nazis further back continues, with a meeting called by the TUC and Unison in the city.
Sean Kelly joint senior convenor social services, City of Sunderland Unison (personal capacity)


George Galloway spoke for millions

GEORGE GALLOWAY and Helen Salmon addressed a meeting at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine a couple of weeks ago. It was Galloway's first meeting after the Daily Telegraph printed allegations against him. I was worried about the reception George would get. Management were terrified and insisted that we remove the school logo from the lectern.

We needn't have worried - around 300 staff and students turned up (there are only 800 at the school), and George was warmly received. Last week an academic at the school told me he'd resigned from the Labour Party in protest at George's suspension, saying, 'If there's no room for George Galloway in the party then there's no room for me.'

Here the attack on George is rightly seen as an attack on all those who opposed the war, and an attack on freedom of speech and democracy. There's more going on. Both Helen and George spoke about how imperialism is part of a system of global capitalism that must be resisted. They were received with enthusiasm and applause.

That's why Blair is scared, that's why he wants to silence George Galloway, and that's why socialists should do everything they can to make sure they fail.
Adrian Cousins, Amicus-MSF rep, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (personal capacity)


War is global

DAVE TAYLOR (Letters, 10 May) asked about Scandinavian countries' 'lack of involvement in wars'. All the Scandinavian countries were involved in fairly continuous wars with each other and their neighbours in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Both Norway and Denmark fought in World War Two and are active members of the NATO military alliance.

Denmark was one of the few European countries to fully support the war on Iraq, sending warships. Sweden profited from trading with all sides in World War Two, including Nazi Germany. Sweden's arms industry is one of the biggest in the world.
Harald Olsen, South London


Blair wrecking Irish peace

IN ALL the horror of the recent events in Iraq it is easy to overlook what is happening in Ireland. Blair, having been a real enthusiast for a 'war process' in the Middle East, now looks like he is heading the same way in Northern Ireland. He is throwing the peace process into crisis.

Since the second ceasefire in 1997 the Provisional IRA have not actually fired a shot in anger. They have allowed independent government-approved witnesses to see where their arms are dumped, and to witness the destruction of some of these weapons. They also issued a statement that guaranteed that they would 'definitively set aside arms' if the Good Friday agreement was fully implemented. The Unionists, though, want complete public surrender and destruction of weapons.

Furthermore, their behaviour since the peace process began indicates that they don't want to share power with Republicans on any terms. But Blair has thrown his support fully behind them, thus endangering peace altogether. Just as mad dogs get a lust for blood once tasted, it would appear Blair is hooked on the war bug.
Pat Stack, North London


Privatisation spoils ballot

THE LOCAL election in Harlow has turned into a real scandal. The council, run by a Lib Dem/Tory coalition, organised a postal ballot for the election and put it out to a private company to organise.

The company sent out over 3,000 forms without the proper stamp. So about 20 percent of those who voted had their ballots declared invalid. And postal voting is supposed to be the future!This whole fiasco shows how privatisation undermines real democracy.
Tony Sullivan, Harlow


Grab chance to get at Bush

I AM heading off to Evian for the protest against Bush and the G8. I really wanted to go to the protest when Bush came to Belfast during the war. I was so infuriated because I come from an Irish Catholic background and I was just disgusted that Bush could pose as a peacemaker. Now at Evian at last I have a chance to have a go at Bush. Lots of people I know want to come. At college there are degree shows but there are people in my anti-war group who are up for it.
Katy Bannon, Wimbledon


Students going to Evian

SO FAR a dozen LSE students are going to Evian. We have all been heavily involved in the Stop the War Coalition. We are proud of the movement we have built in Britain but feel that the resistance must continue. George Bush's arrival in Europe must be met by a sea of demonstrators. We must show him he faces the world's second superpower - our movement.

We are going to stand against the corporate carve-up of Iraq and against the barbarity of global capitalism propped up by military power.
Tom Whittaker, London School of Economics


Right to tell tales on SATs

GREAT STORY about the SATs by Pat Thomson (Socialist Worker, 3 May). Kids get really worried about these pointless exams that do no good and waste tons of useful time.

They are about measuring the progress of future economic production units, not about educating kids and giving them a sense of curiosity and wonder.
Mark Crompton, London


Greens taking wrong turn?

I VOTED for the SSP and it was great to see them shaking up the parly at the oath swearing ceremony last week. As well as the tens of thousands who voted SSP, many others voted for the Greens because they were anti-war.

But the Greens are now being tempted by an 'informal understanding' with Labour's Scottish first minister, Jack McConnell. This would mean being sucked into boring mainstream politics alongside those who have fought a war in support of the world's biggest polluter.
J Wilkie, Glasgow


Straight from horse's mouth

CHECK OUT the Project for the New American Century website (www.newamerican century.com). It unmasks all the people in the US government today. Years ago they were writing about the need to wage war on Iraq. What happened on 11 September was just an excuse.

A friend of mine thought the war would liberate Iraq. When he looked at that website he changed his mind.
Ant Casey, East London


US keeping its grip on Iraq

WE CLAIM to have liberated Iraq but the Iraqi people see us as invaders and occupiers. They are now calling for the Americans and British to leave. It has been said that this war is about oil. The governments denied this. But recently America said they wouldn't accept an Iraqi government that didn't agree with them and they would control the production and sale of oil. If this is not imperialism, what is?
Ron Acock, Ilkeston


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Article information

Letters
Sat 17 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1851
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