Some 500 young people crammed into The Cauliflower venue in Ilford, Essex, to watch Dirty Pretty Things and Roll Deep headline a benefit night for Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) to help boost the local campaign against the fascist British National Party (BNP).
The BNP has been targeting the outer areas of east London recently, gaining one seat on Redbridge council, where the gig took place, and 12 in neighbouring Barking & Dagenham.
Indie rock band Dirty Pretty Things are long standing LMHR supporters. Anthony and Didz from the band spoke to Socialist Worker about their reasons for headlining the event.
“Playing a small gig in a place like this can have a real impact,” said Anthony. “It’s very different from playing at some corporate sponsored event - this is about actions as opposed to preaching.”
Others on the bill included up and coming punk act The Mentalists and Dagenham based grime act OT Crew. “We want people to know that people round here want nothing to do with the BNP,” said OT’s Mikee. “Racism is a worldwide problem and we’ve got to get rid of it.”
Tickets for the event, which sold out before the show, were distributed to fans and activists through websites, record stores and the Recorder local newspaper. Several local trade unions supported the gig, with banners from the GMB, Unison and Amicus festooning the venue.
Steve Hart, London regional secretary for the T&G union, spoke from the stage about how ordinary Londoners - including his father - had joined forces 70 years ago to fight off the fascists at the Battle of Cable Street.
“People need to unite against the BNP - culturally, politically, and across communities,” he told Socialist Worker. “The lesson of Cable Street is that the labour movement is key to getting such a united and broad campaign against fascism.”
Other speakers included Milton McKenzie, a GMB activist and Labour councillor in Barking & Dagenham, as well as representatives of Barking MP Margaret Hodge.
The success of the gig reflects a widespread anger towards the BNP that reaches out across the communities of Barking, Dagenham and Redbridge.
And it shows the potential for mobilising that sentiment behind a united campaign that brings black and white together to drive the fascists out of town.
Barking & Dagenham Unite Against Fascism will meet on Monday 9 October, 6pm, at the St Margarets Centre, Broadway, Barking. E-mail email@example.com to get involved. The LMHR website is www.lovemusichateracism.com
Unite is hosting a conference against the BNP in the West Midlands this Saturday - go towww.uaf.org.uk