ANTI-NAZI campaigners are building local support for demonstrations on Saturday 28 June against the Nazi British National Party (BNP) councillors in their area. The marches in Burnley, Dudley, Broxbourne and Halifax are mobilising a range of people opposed to the BNP. In Burnley the BNP has eight councillors, and was standing a candidate in the by-election on Thursday of this week.
That threat from the Nazis has seen trade unions including the firefighters' FBU, the teachers' NUT, the GMB and the college lecturers' union Natfhe unite to back the march. Campaigners against the BNP's attempts to grow in the West Midlands were building for the march in Dudley.
The local Unity Campaign Against Racism and Fascism has been mobilising support for the march. A campaign in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, has kicked off after a BNP councillor was elected.
'After the shocking election result Anti Nazi League campaigners set up a stall in Cheshunt,' explained Matt Saywell. 'Local people who had been involved in the stop the war campaign were keen to get involved and were vital in developing roots in the area. The response we received was fantastic. The majority of people we spoke to were outraged at the BNP's victory and were encouraged to see us on the streets. Towards the end of the stall we had a street meeting with people exchanging numbers and arranging to meet up. At our first meeting we discovered we had contacts with trade unionists, the local Labour Party and other workers from the area. We decided that Broxbourne Against Racism (BAR) was to be the name of our campaigning organisation. We decided to meet up on a regular basis and plan future activity. We are putting out a local leaflet widely in the area including workplaces such as Tesco, which is one of the biggest employers in the area. We are also speaking to schools and colleges and are asking for assemblies to be held to discuss racism and fascism.'
There will also be a march in Halifax on 28 June. Kevin Mottram described how the Calderdale Unity Committee has been mobilising: 'There are people on our steering group who represent different networks in the area. Pete is a journalist and Labour Party member. The Calder Valley Labour Party has e-mailed its 400 members about the march. Shaz is in the Muslim Association of Calderdale and has raised leafleting the mosques. He is also a Labour Party member. The MPs Alice Mahon and Chris McCafferty are backing the march. Warren is from the trades council and is in the FBU. We are contacting trade unions in the area to get their support. Andrew is encouraging local church groups to get involved. We really want to drive this campaign down into the roots of the local area and undermine the BNP.'
Burnley: 11am, Crown Court car park.
Halifax: 1pm, Park Road, next to People's Park.
Broxbourne: 1pm, Grundy Park, off Windmill Lane, Cheshunt.
Dudley: 1pm, Leisure Centre, Wellington Road.
For more details contact Unity, c/o Anti Nazi League, phone 020 7924 0333.
OUR CAMPAIGN in the north east of England is about giving a bit of confidence to people who are opposed to the Nazis. The need for that was reinforced when the National Front (NF) got 2,554 votes - 5.9 percent - in the first round of the North Tyneside mayoral election last week. This is an area that includes Tory heartlands and very rundown areas.
The result comes after the NF stood two candidates in Newcastle in the May elections, while the BNP stood in every ward in Sunderland. Our campaign feels even more determined after this. We had a fantastic launch meeting after the May election, called by Unison with over 90 people.
Then we followed up with a 15-strong planning meeting. We agreed the campaign should hold meetings in local areas starting with Sunderland in July. There will also be an anti-fascist theme at the Durham miners' gala on 12 July. The TUC shop stewards committee on 20 September will be opened up to all trade unionists to discuss anti-racism and fascism.
From it a booklet will be produced and distributed to all shop stewards in the region. Before next June's elections there are plans for a TUC-funded carnival to be held in May.
The North East Against the BNP group has support from many different unions and activists. Our strategy is to build up the arguments against the Nazis in workplaces and communities.