A vigorous campaign by Unite Against Fascism was instrumental in preventing the fascist British National Party (BNP) from capturing council seats in Thurrock, Essex, on Thursday of last week.
The Nazis stood candidates in two council by-elections. They came third in Grays Riverside ward with 340 votes, beaten by Labour on 575 and the Tories on 348.
They came in last place in Homesteads ward, garnering only 150 votes.
The Grays ward had been heavily targeted by the BNP, which briefly held a council seat there in 2003. Unite responded by canvassing the entire ward twice, exposing the BNP as a fascist organisation and telling people to use their votes against them.
“There’s no doubt that the canvassing pulled people away from the BNP,” says Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite. “Around 100 fewer people said they were voting for the Nazis the second time we went around canvassing.
The BNP responded to Unite’s onslaught by turning uglier. One Unite campaigner was beaten up by Nazi thugs. They also became violent at the election count, resulting in the police being called.
“The fascists stood in large groups outside polling stations attempting to intimidate people,” said Weyman. “But they failed — black, Asian and white people turned out to reject their poison.We are the majority and we can defeat them every time we mobilise.”
Mobilisation by anti-racist campaigners including local trade unionists, Unite Against Fascism, the Scottish Socialist Party and community activists saw the BNP cancel plans to leaflet in Falkirk last Sunday.
Yorkshire & the Humber TUC together with Unite Against Fascism have called a demonstration in Leeds on 16 January to coincide with the start of the trial of BNP leader Nick Griffin on race hate charges.