Socialist Worker

Fighting fascism

Issue No. 1882

HIGH PROFILE people in trade unions, campaigns and celebrities are signing up to support the Unite Against Fascism coalition.

The organisation is about gathering together the widest possible opposition to the British National Party. Unite's steering committee includes London mayor Ken Livingstone, CWU general secretary Billy Hayes, Weyman Bennett (ANL) and Sabby Dhalu (National Assembly Against Racism).

Unite aims to stop the BNP getting a breakthrough in next June's 'super Thursday' elections, when MEPs, councillors and members of the London Assembly will be elected on the same day.

The new names signing up to Unite against Fascism are:

MPs Peter Hain, Diane Abbott and John Cryer.

MEPs Glyn Ford, Gary Titley, Claude Moraes, Glenys Kinnock, Stephen Hughes, Chris Heaton-Harris, Linda McAvon and Philip Whitehead.

Union general secretaries Bob Crow (RMT), Ed Sweeney (Unifi), Adrian Askew (Connect), Doug Nichols (CYWU) and Jeremy Dear (NUJ). Janice Godrich, PCS president, and Mick Rix, former general secretary of Aslef, have also added their names.

Other union representatives include Unison national executive members Jon Rogers, Yunus Bakhsh and Kate Ahrens; Natfhe president Maureen O'Mara, vice-president Sam Allen and treasurer Fawzi Abrahim; Luciana Burger from NUS; Stephen Bell, policy adviser to the CWU general secretary; Hank Roberts, NUT national executive; John Denton, CWU London Region secretary; Bob Stoker, Huddersfield Trade Union Council secretary; and Roger King, secretary of Birmingham NUT.

Others include Benjamin Zephaniah, the poet who recently refused to accept an OBE, influential musician Roni Size, and Beresford Mack from Choice FM.

Also signing up are David Seymour, political editor of the Daily Mirror; Mark Seddon, editor of Tribune; Mick Nelson, Burnley Labour Party assistant agent; Clive Mardner, director of Essex Race Equality Council; Deepa Patel and Lonnah Carbonilla from Help the Aged; and Hilary Wainwright, editor of Red Pepper.

To add your name to this statement or get copies of the petition and collection sheet write to Unite! c/o Natfhe, 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP, phone 020 7833 4916 or e-mail unite@natfhe.org.uk.

Unite membership costs £10 waged, £3 unwaged/students. There are other rates for organisations and trade unions. Membership forms are available from the office.


Leeds

SOME 170 people attended the launch meeting of Leeds Unity Against Racism and Fascism at Leeds Civic Hall on Tuesday of last week.

The Unity group emerged a number of months ago. Initial discussions took place about the need to build a movement in Leeds against the BNP that was much broader and with more united organisation than those individual groups already in existence in the city.

Many of those who took part in these early meetings had been involved in the anti-war movement.

It was important that the need to involve the maximum number of people in any initiative was the aim.

The group-made up of individual reps from the NUT, NUJ and Unison unions, the Racial Equality Council, ANL and No Platform Group, students and church representatives, as well as interested, concerned individuals-agreed on our name and the need to have a launch meeting.

We set about publicising the meeting as widely as possible. We contacted trade unions, went into fire stations and ambulance stations, leafleted mosques, and contacted churches and synagogues. We sent out mailings to all community groups, including tenants associations and organisations representing ethnic minorities in the city.

We postered and leafleted areas, spoke on local radio and BBC Asian Network, and advertised through the local paper. We used a 'Statement of Unity' that we had agreed on to ask individuals and organisations to endorse, and we will print this prior to the election.

The meeting was good and the atmosphere was very serious. The leader of the council opened it with a commitment to ensuring the BNP gained no seats in our council chambers.

This was echoed by the speaker from Unison, who talked about the important role trade unions have to play in the campaign.

Alice Nutter from Chumbawamba urged people to come out onto the streets, and Weyman Bennett from the ANL told us about the new Unite Against Fascism campaign, which placed our campaign within a national perspective.

Other speeches were heard from a refugee representative, someone from the Muslim Association of Britain, and a similar campaign already set up in Kirklees.

We ended the meeting urging people to sign the statement before they went, and to take it out into their workplaces and communities. We also urged them to get involved and talk to us after the meeting.

There was a real buzz in the room as people came forward to ask what they could do or give their name to get involved.

PAULA CHAMPION


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Sat 20 Dec 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1882
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