Socialist Worker

Rush of support to take on the BNP

by Donna Guthrie worker in the Unite Against Fascism office
Issue No. 1889

'THE PHONES are buzzing, and there's tremendous enthusiasm from the top to the bottom of the movement. Some 21 union general secretaries are backing the campaign. The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, is writing to trade unionists urging them to get involved.

There's been a growing feeling for over a year that the Nazi BNP is a major threat-especially in the run-up to the European elections on 10 June. People want to feel part of an enormous campaign that can defeat them. Over the last couple of days an FE college in Shrewsbury phoned up to order posters and leaflets, and to say they want to be involved.

They were not known to the local organisations on the ground that we put them in touch with. We are getting lots of phone calls like that. A trades union council in Lancashire phoned wanting to set up Unite there. They understand the importance of the TUC nationally backing the campaign. Or there's the letter from a woman in Pimlico in London describing herself as a World War Two widow. She sent a £3 cheque in with a note saying, 'Finally there is something I can join that is going to be really up for defeating fascism.'

Two organising officers for Help the Aged have joined Unite. Local anti-racist organisations are also affiliating. We've had a whole primary school sign up. The National Union of Teachers has just affiliated nationally. The National Union of Students is encouraging every student union entertainments officer to put on gigs and events to support Unite.

The CWU postal and telecoms union has employed someone solely to contact every branch to ensure they are connected with the campaign in each locality. I phoned round the London region of every single union to ask if they could put a leaflet in their mailings for Unite's launch rally in London at the Astoria. Everyone enthusiastically agreed. They went further and bulk ordered masses of the leaflets and posters. The Fire Brigades Union Region Seven sent us a £500 donation. Sabby Dhalu, one of the joint secretaries of the campaign, went to the TGWU's central London branch last week and got a £1,000 donation.

Then, of course, there are black, Asian, faith and community groups. A representative from the Muslim Council of Britain attended the last steering committee meeting. Groups such as Operation Black Vote and the 1990 Trust have all put the information on their websites. Also local Labour activists are getting involved as they see MPs and councillors have already signed up.

There are rallies planned in many towns and cities. We want to reproduce the unity and dynamism in every area. Dudley has just had an organising meeting of 60. York had 30. There were 67 people out in Leeds recently leafleting for their rally. If the rallies are built like that, we'll find the forces in each area that can do the mass leafleting and take the arguments out against the BNP in the 10 June election campaign.

In some areas there has already been success in holding the line against the BNP. This is about taking that nationally and into every area.'

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Article information

Sat 21 Feb 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1889
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