The true face of the British National Party (BNP) was revealed last Saturday in Morley, West Yorkshire, when anti-BNP campaigners were systematically assaulted by an organised gang of fascist thugs.
The campaigners included several trade unionists and volunteers from church groups.
They were delivering Unite Against Fascism leaflets across Morley South ward, where the BNP gained its only Leeds council seat in May of this year.
One of the people attacked was a senior citizen and lay leader at a local church. “We were shadowed by a group who announced that they were fascists,” he said. “They told us to drop our leaflets.”
When he refused, the gang attacked him, hitting him on the head with their fists and calling him “scum”. “I would say they were in their 30s or 40s,” the lay leader added. “They were certainly not teenagers on a lark - it was clearly premeditated.”
Other teams of Unite leafleters out campaigning that day reported similar experiences of being harassed and attacked by thugs openly describing themselves as fascists and BNP supporters.
The trade unionists attacked included a local teacher in the NUT who was punched and a Unison activist who was pushed to the ground and kicked.
In each case the assaulters made a point of declaring that “this is a BNP area”.
But anti-fascist campaigners in the area have refused to be intimidated by this thuggery. “This cowardly attack shows them for what they are,” Reverend David Randolph-Horn of All Hallows Church in Leeds told Socialist Worker.
“I hope it will be taken as a wake-up call to people that democracy is under attack,” he added. “And I hope that next time we go canvassing against the BNP, we’ll get a hundred people to come with us.”
Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU union, condemned the attack. “This was thuggish behaviour by a party of thugs,” he told Socialist Worker. “It shows how right we are to call the BNP a fascist party, and how important the Unite campaign is.”
“We won’t be intimidated,” said Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism. “Our supporters will continue to leaflet in Morley—and in other areas where the BNP try to divide communities and to hide their true nature as fascists.”