A blog for the socially and politically conscious, written by a young, gay activist who strongly believes in equality and justice.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Nip Nazi problem in bud this year

“I cannot rule out violence,” these are the ominous words of English Defence League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson. He was talking about the EDL’s planned demonstration in Bolton on Saturday 6 March. Three weeks ago more than 1,200 EDL supporters rampaged through Stoke-on-Trent. They ran riot. Asian shops were attacked and car windows smashed. The previous night a local mosque had been spray painted with the words “Islam scum” and “EDL”. That is the reality of EDL demonstrations. It shows why anti-racists must take to the streets in Bolton. Barry Conway, Bolton secretary of National Union of Teachers, said “Instead of celebrating our diversity, the EDL want to destroy it. It is vital the community unites to stop them. “We are putting a motion to our branch AGM opposing the EDL coming here and calling for a united campaign if they do.” Brian Iddon, MP for Bolton South, strongly opposes the EDL coming to Bolton. He said they are the “boot boys of the BNP”. But unfortunately he has also told the community to “stay calm”, “not get involved in confrontation” and “if possible, ignore them”. But Stoke shows that the strategy of staying at home and hoping it all goes away can only lead to disaster. The EDL claims it is a non-violent organisation. But there is violence whenever it comes out on the streets.

It says it isn’t racist and only opposes “extremist Islam”. But it issued a statement this week calling for a ban on the building of any mosques - and has been known to chant "Pakis out" while goading each other to beating innocent ethnic minorities up. Footage from the Stoke rampage shows EDL supporters chanting “BNP, BNP”, only to be told by Geoff Marsh, one of the demonstration’s organisers, “Don’t shout BNP boys... it’s EDL, right. That’s stupid.” I am worried that the EDL will give confidence to the BNP. They are weak here, but the EDL protest could help them in the election. This isn’t about religion or Islam - these people are coming here to spread violence and hatred. In Germany the Nazis demonised Jewish people long before the Holocaust. They attacked synagogues and witch-hunted Jews before eventually murdering millions. Today fascists are a tiny minority, but groups like the EDL could quickly become a breeding ground for the BNP. Known British National Party (BNP) activists have been seen on EDL protests. The German left in the 1930s failed to unite to stop the rise of fascism. We cannot make the same mistake today. We need to draw on the lessons from the movement against the National Front in the 1970s, when they were driven from the streets by working class unity.

Anti-fascist campaigners in Barking, east London, are gearing up for a day of action against the BNP this Saturday. The BNP are standing leader Nick Griffin for parliament in Barking. Parliamentary boundaries have been redrawn since the last election. This has increased the number of BNP councillors in the Barking constituency from five to 11. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) held a highly successful day of leafleting in January. It boosted local people’s confidence to challenge the BNP. UAF received phone calls and emails almost immediately from people who had received Don’t Vote Nazi leaflets through the door. This excellent start to the campaign now needs to be built on to ensure the anti-Nazi majority in Barking is mobilised to stop the BNP. The Nazis have grown in Barking by feeding off the scapegoating of immigrants and Muslims whipped up by politicians and the press. It taps into peoples’ worries about jobs, housing and services. But it blames immigrants or Muslims, rather than New Labour’s promotion of the interests of big business.

Fascism is about more than just racism – it is an ideology that aims to destroy all democracy. Today’s British National Party stands in this tradition. Many people reading the mainstream media coverage of the British National Party (BNP) will have been struck by a curious coyness when it comes to describing the nature of the organisation. The newspapers and TV news reports are happy to describe the BNP as “far right”, “hard right” or even as “extremist”. But, as a rule, they are reluctant to explicitly call the BNP a fascist organisation. There are certainly no legal barriers to doing this. The Standards Board for England ruled in 2005 that describing the BNP as Nazi was “within the normal and acceptable limits of political debate”. Partly this reluctance is due to widespread confusion over what fascism is, how fascist organisations differ from merely racist or right wing ones, and why fascist organisations pose such a unique threat to all forms of democracy at every level of society. This confusion is compounded by the habit of using “fascist” as a catch-all term for any kind of authoritarian rule. In fact it is not so difficult to grasp what fascism is, providing one is willing to look outside liberal approaches to history.

After the Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust, fascism was thrown into crisis. Attempts by fascist activists to revive the Nazi movement were met with scorn and derision by ordinary people across Europe. It was during this time that French fascists headed by Jean-Marie Le Pen decided they had to change track. They would no longer openly proclaim their dedication to Hitler and genocidal racism. Instead they would present themselves as nationalists, concerned about immigration and multiculturalism, in order to embed themselves within the political system. This did not mean dropping fascism, but hiding it. Le Pen’s Front National still has an army of thugs it uses to spread race hatred and terror, as does the BNP in Britain. Whenever the BNP manages to root itself locally, racist attacks and murders in that area rise. The strategy for anti-fascists is to unite the broadest possible forces against the Nazis, to expose and confound their attempts to pose as a legitimate democratic party, and to confront them on every front until they are driven out of the political mainstream and back into the gutter where they belong.

The roots of the British National Party (BNP) lie in the splinters of the National Front (NF), the main fascist organisation of the late 1970s. A mass movement led by the Anti Nazi League (ANL) rose up to confront the NF. By the early 1980s the fascist presence in Britain had been smashed into warring fragments.John Tyndall, a lifelong Nazi activist who once declared “Mein Kampf [Hitler’s political testament] is my bible”, launched the BNP in 1982 out of the merger of several of these groups. The party had little success throughout the 1980s, but hit the headlines in September 1993 when Derek Beackon was elected as the BNP’s first councillor in a by-election on the Isle of Dogs in east London.

Throughout this period the BNP was based in headquarters in Welling, south east London. The area soon found itself at the centre of a wave of racist attacks and murders – most notably that of Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death by racists in April 1993. The ANL was relaunched and helped organise protests against the BNP. A 60,000 strong anti-fascist demonstration converged on the BNP’s Welling headquarters in October 1993, and Beackon himself was defeated at the 1994 council elections. Throughout this time the BNP was relatively open about being a fascist organisation.

In 1990 the European parliament’s committee on racism and xenophobia described the organisation as an “openly Nazi party”. Tyndall himself declared, “Many who feel that Hitler was right do not believe it is safe yet to state such views openly – but times will change.” Nick Griffin, who ousted Tyndall as BNP leader in 1999, was convicted of incitement to racial hatred in 1998 for publishing The Rune, an antisemitic magazine. During his trial Griffin stuck by his claims that the Nazi Holocaust had not taken place. “I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that six million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades,” he said in court. “I have reached the conclusion that the ‘extermination’ tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter day witch-hysteria.” But once Griffin had won leadership of the BNP he was forced to take the party on a different course after Beackon’s defeat. Seeking to emulate the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National in France, Griffin tried to hide the BNP’s fascist nature in order to appear respectable. This meant playing down the party’s overt racism and shifting the direction of its bile towards more “fashionable” targets such as muslims, and multicultural migrant workers.

It also meant a shift away from marching in the streets and open racist thuggery towards concentrating on winning elections. Despite these cosmetic changes, the party remains committed to fascism. In 2002 leading BNP member Mark Collett – one of Griffin’s key lieutenants – was secretly filmed stating his admiration for Hitler. “I’d never say this on camera, [but] the Jews have been thrown out of every country including England,” he said. “It’s not just persecution – there’s no smoke without fire.” And Griffin himself has spent his entire life on the fascist right, ever since attending NF meetings as a teenager in the 1970s. However much he tries to lie or dissemble about the BNP’s true aims, it remains a Nazi organisation dedicated to creating an “all white Britain”. And now with their friends at Combat 18, the National Front, the English, Welsh and scottish Defence Leagues, and a whole range of other hardline Nazis, we need to be fighting harder than ever for our fair, egalitarian democracy and society. By attending rallies and marches against intolerant fascist vermin like these, we are also standing up against their racism, sexism and homophobia.

The EDL has been touted as the street fighting wing of the BNP. Although both the EDL and the BNP deny such links, several of the EDL’s leading organisers are listed as BNP members. BNP supporters have also been spotted at recent EDL protests. But the growing anti-fascist movement is confronting the BNP and the EDL wherever they go. Anti-fascists have chased the EDL out of Birmingham and Harrow in the last couple of weeks. Thousands of young people – black, white and Asian – are fighting alongside trade unionists and other campaigners to stop the EDL.= and other Nazi organisations. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) will hold its annual conference on Saturday 13 February in central London. The conference will be crucial for all those who oppose the Nazis and want to stop them making gains – both in elections or in strength on the streets. The BNP has made some gains on the back of the economic crisis, anti-immigrant racism, Islamophobia and anger with mainstream politicians. But they have always been opposed – and the next six months will be key to building up that opposition.

The campaign to halt Nazi Nick Griffin’s ambition of winning a seat in the general election took off last Sunday. The BNP leader plans to stand in Barking, east London. The first Barking and Dagenham Unite Against Fascism day of action brought together 170 people, including local residents, trade unionists and political activists. They leafleted every house in the Alibon, Goresbrook and Parsloes wards. The Nazis have 12 councillors on the local council. “The BNP winning local council seats has made people more wary. It creates divisions,” Andrew Jones told Socialist Worker. He lives in Alibon ward, where the BNP have two out of three councillors. Police statistics show that when the BNP wins seats racist crime rises. In Barking’s Eastbury ward, racially motivated violence, theft and criminal damage more than doubled after the election of the BNP’s Jeffrey Steed in 2006. Forty five racial incidents were reported in the following year. Local resident Marcia said, “The BNP work on people’s discontent, the lack of jobs and low status they suffer. “They say ‘Here is your scapegoat’, and point to black people. “The BNP’s latest leaflet talks about crime and has pictures of young white men who have been killed. It’s insidious. People will assume that they were killed by black people – but they weren’t. It plays on prejudices.” a local primary school teacher said, “We need to nip this in the bud, or it will escalate and lead to the destruction of communities.”

More than 1,200 supporters of the English Defence League (EDL) went on a violent rampage through Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent, last Saturday. Football hooligans, known fascists and anti-Muslim fanatics gathered in the city centre. Hundreds of local people also joined the EDL brawl. The British National Party (BNP) has hidden its support for previous EDL demonstrations. But this time leading party members, local and national, openly took part. On Friday night the words “Islam Scum” and “EDL” were daubed on the walls of a mosque in the Normacot area. And at the end of the demonstration hundreds of EDL supporters swept through an Asian area attacking homes, shops and cars. This was clearly a national mobilisation for the EDL. There were reports that transport came from the barracks of the Mercian regiment. As the EDL gathered, supporters chanted, “Muslim bombers off our streets.” But within a few hours it had become unquestionably racist. “If you hate all Pakis clap your hands”, they shouted. Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism said, “EDL supporters attacked black and Asian people – and whites who they claim are race traitors. “This must never happen again. Racist and fascist thugs taking to the streets in such large numbers must be met with a mass movement that can drive them back into the sewer.” The violence was aided by the large turnout of organised football hooligans. The EDL’s main financial backer, Alan Lake, says they are a mass “that gets off their backsides and travels to a city and they are available before and after matches.” On Saturday EDL supporters ripped planks of wood and masonry from nearby buildings. They repeatedly attempted to attack anti-fascists, hurling bricks, firecrackers and bottles. The police had arrested 17 people by Tuesday morning. Seven men have been charged, the majority with racially or religiously aggravated disorder offences.

Those charged came from Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Birmingham. On Saturday’s demonstration photojournalist Guy Smallman was hit by two bottles. He said, “We regularly see police surveillance teams on non-confrontational anti-war protests, but here they kept their distance.
“Most disturbing of all was the police’s apparent willingness to allow around 600 EDL supporters to march unaccompanied into a mixed residential area where they proceeded to smash cars and shop windows.” The EDL did not go unchallenged. A counter protest of around 500 students, trade unionists and local people – black, white and Asian – turned out to counter the EDL. Robby and Colin, two local black people, said “They think they speak for the people of Stoke, but they don’t. The BNP is using the recession and targeting vulnerable people.” Kevin, who came with the student delegation, said that the police had been telling students not to join the protest. He added, “Stoke is important for the BNP – they have eight councillors here. We need to show people that anti fascists are the majority”. Jason Hill, from the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, said, “The EDL’s racism and Islamophobia are not welcome here.” Trade unionists from the NASWUT, NUT, Unison, CWU and Unite attended the protest, as did local councillors. Steve Funnell, of North Staffordshire TUC, told a journalist, “Stoke has never recovered from Thatcher’s recession. “Many of the problems in our communities have not been addressed so it has become a breeding ground for organisations like the BNP and EDL.”

The British National Party is becoming a household name. In the process it is trying to appear more moderate and respectable. But it is not. Scratch the surface and you find the same old racist organisation it always was. It is run by hardline nazis who believe that the Holocaust did not happen. Its rule book remains firmly entrenched in the principles of racial superiority and the banning of racial integration. The BNP may have got cleverer but its real politics remain the same.; they are the same hateful, divisive nazi scum they have always been. The BNP is dedicated to imposing apartheid-style rule in Britain. It wants to create a system that is based on the nonsense that white people are superior to all others. Black and Asian people would become second-class citizens under the law. We must not ignore the BNP. Everyone who rejects the BNP's politics of hate has the duty to do everything they can to stop them. This section of the website is about arming people with the information they need to confront the BNP. The BNP would kick out all those people who were not born in Britain. What if every other country in the world kicked out the Brits? A staggering 5.5 million people would be sent back here – far more than would leave our shores. This includes 800,000 from Spain, most of whom are pensioners.

If non-white people were ordered out of Britain then the NHS would collapse overnight. 16% of nurses are from minority ethnic communities, as are 40% of new dentists and 58% of new doctors! The BNP would introduce apartheid into Britain. The BNP call for whites to be given first preference in housing, education and jobs. This is no different from apartheid South Africa, a racist regime which the BNP supported. Mixed-race relationships would be outlawed. The BNP constitution opposes any racial integration. Articles in BNP journals condemn mixed-race relationships as “mongrelising the white race”. The BNP’s answer to violent crime is to allow every household to have a gun. We kid you not. This barmy idea was in the BNP’s 2005 general election manifesto. The British National Party won two seats in last month’s European election. Nick Griffin, the party leader, was elected in the North West with 8% of the vote and Andrew Brons took a seat in Yorkshire and The Humber with 9.8%. The BNP succeeded because the other parties failed. While the BNP vote in those regions was actually lower than the last time round in 2004 the Labour vote dropped far more substantially. In Yorkshire and The Humber, the Labour vote fell from 413,213 in 2004 to 230,009. In the North West Labour’s vote went down from 576,388 to 336,831.

Griffin just sneaked in. In the North West only 2,500 more votes for the UK Independence Party or slightly over 5,000 more for the Greens would have deprived Griffin of a seat. Nationally the BNP vote share was 6.2%.That is a mere 1.3% more than in 2004. In terms of votes the BNP took 943,598 this time compared to 808,200 in 2004. The BNP did badly in the South East (4.4%), South West (3.9%), London (4.9%) and Wales (5.4%). Even in the East of England, where the party at one stage thought it might take a seat, it polled only 6.1%. In Scotland, where the BNP has never had much support, it came home with 2.5%. In the West Midlands the BNP’s 8.6% was not enough to allow Simon Darby, the deputy leader, to join his colleagues in Europe. Likewise the East Midlands, which only has five seats, gave the BNP 8.7%, far below the vote needed. In the North East, which sends just three MEPs to the European Parliament, the party never had a chance of winning one, but its 8.9% was a big increase on its previous vote. The strength of the BNP vote in a number of areas is a deep cause for concern and gives an indication of the key battlegrounds in next year’s local elections. The BNP polled 10% or more in 52 local authority areas, the highest being Barking and Dagenham where it took 19.5% of the vote.

This picture is even more disturbing when the UKIP vote is included. Almost as many UKIP voters voiced concern about immigration as BNP voters - many people who voted UKIP for Europe might vote BNP in a local election. There were also a number of local authorities where the BNP vote went up dramatically compared to 2004. Substantial increases in BNP votes took place in Wales but a change to the way the Welsh votes were counted means an exact comparison with 2004 is impossible. However, as we discuss in our regional reports on pages 22-24, there were also areas where the BNP vote froze or even dropped. Among these are Burnley, Pendle, Bradford, Dudley and Sandwell. This was the BNP’s biggest election effort ever. The party poured up to £0.5 million into the campaign, hoping the investment would yield all the funding to which MEPs are entitled and the chance to link up with nazis and fascists internationally. Against the fascist party was the biggest and most professional HOPE not hate campaign ever staged. They delivered 3.4 million newspapers and leaflets across the country in the two months leading up to the election. In the North West alone, 1.6 million HOPE not hate newspapers and leaflets were put out by approximately 1,200 supporters, an effort which dwarfed that of any of the political parties who contested the election.

In Yorkshire, 880,000 leaflets were distributed, including 200,000 targeting the large Muslim population in West and South Yorkshire. Across the Midlands 300,000 newspapers and leaflets were put out. Even in London, which was never one of their key priorities, about 300,000 pieces of literature were distributed, including 50,000 newspapers in Hackney and a similar number of localised leaflets in Barking and Dagenham. Another success of the campaign was our press work. Throughout the campaign they worked with the media to inform the public about the real face behind the BNP’s lies and racism. On the eve of poll email was sent out to almost 600,000 addresses, making it the largest single political email in British domestic political history. And above all, in a time when the credibility of all the political parties suffered because of the expenses scandal, thousands of people, many who have never campaigned politically before, got involved in the campaign. We were always faced with an uphill struggle. The European election, contested in most of the country with no coinciding local elections, and against the economic recession and an increasingly unpopular government presented a perfect storm for the BNP, even before the expenses scandal blew. Once that happened it was always a matter of damage limitation and one of our most important successes was in preventing the anti-establishment protest vote going to the BNP.

It is clear both from the results and from the extensive YouGov election day survey of voters that the BNP did not pick up the protest vote. The BNP hardly increased its share of the vote nationally and the YouGov survey demonstrated that the BNP only turned out its hardcore support. Those questioned had almost uniform views on race and immigration, indicating there had been no movement to the BNP of people who had more moderate views but wanted to cast a protest vote. Another success of this campaign was increasing the turnout of anti-BNP voters. Nick Griffin, in the North West, actually received the lowest percentage vote for the BNP in any of its key regions. In several cities, such as Manchester and Liverpool, the Labour share of the vote remained the same as 2004, bucking the national trend, suggesting that Labour managed to turn out a significant section of its traditional vote but also new voters, determined to stop the BNP. On election day Michael Crick of Newsnight was in Blackburn, an area of traditionally strong BNP support but where the local anti-BNP group had delivered the East Lancs version of the HOPE not hate newspaper to 56,000 of the 58,000 homes. Crick reported long queues of people, both Asian and white, at polling stations, many stating clearly that they were there to vote against the BNP.

There was also unusually high voting at the polling station closest to Manchester University, suggesting that students were coming out to vote against the BNP. Similarly, in Birmingham, while some traditional Labour voters were staying at home, the party’s support was boosted by the high turnout among the city’s minority communities. Two BNP MEPs are two too many. We believe that the HOPE not hate campaign limited the BNP gains (and almost prevented Griffin from winning in the North West) but now we must face the new challenge ahead. The BNP now has a platform and resources with which it can greatly expand its activities but they will also be under the spotlight as never before and their election has generated widespread anger and revulsion. Over 80,000 people have signed our “Not in my name” online petition, the vast majority totally new to us. Our job, to coin an organising phrase, is to turn this anger into hope and finally into action. But we cannot do this without the aid of fellow anti-fascists opposing racism, sexism, homophobia and fascism across Britain. We need your aid as much as possible especially this year; just 3.3% of the vote could get Griffin and his odious views into Parliament, which would be a disaster to our fair, equal democracy; especially as they work closely with and finance other far-right organisations such as the National Front.

Immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan will be one of the primary themes of the British National Party’s general election campaign. Speaking on BNP television, Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, sets out a blatantly populist stall for the election, which he believes will be called in late February or very early March. Griffin hopes to exploit what he sees as an “enormous gap” between the views of the public and “politicians” on Afghanistan. The second main issue for the BNP, not surprisingly, will be “mass immigration and Islam in particular”, a subject at which he intends to go “hammer and tongs” to show the public that the BNP has not “gone soft”. He may also have an eye on limiting the damage to his party’s reputation among its racist supporters caused by his decision, forced by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), to open BNP membership to non-white people. The third theme will be Europe. While recognising that Europe plays a lesser role in the general election in the minds of the public, Griffin explains that it is very important for a section of the public that the BNP aims to attract, namely those voters who are not sure whether to vote BNP or for the UK Independence Party. As for the economy, the issue on which most people will focus, Griffin dismisses it on the grounds that it is “not feasible for us to get across the fact that a nationalist economic policy is the only way out of the mess”.

In other words, the BNP will go for votes by exploiting policies chosen for that purpose alone, rather than present a serious political programme to the electorate. Griffin appears to dismiss voters as too stupid to understand his economic arguments, though the reality is that the BNP’s mishmash of economic nationalism, fascism and opposition to trade would totally wreck the British economy. Griffin states that his party is not yet ready for the election, though the main leaflets have been designed. There is also some fundraising to be done, he admits, before moving on quickly to another subject. Money may well be a problem. The BNP went into the European election campaign in a dire financial state and spent large sums on its misnamed “Battle for Britain”. Before the election last June the party pledged that in the event of victory the party would contest every seat in the country in the general election. That would commit the party to £325,000 in candidates’ deposits alone, much of which would be lost as the BNP will not overcome the 5% threshold for return of deposits in most constituencies. Probably realising the foolishness of standing hundreds of no hopers, Griffin backtracked, grabbing the opportunity to blame the three-month freeze on recruitment of new party members that he had agreed as a result of the EHRC’s court case.

Exaggerating wildly as usual, Griffin claimed the EHRC had cost the BNP a potential £105,000 in membership fees from 3,000 people keen to join up. “Those lost funds would have allowed the BNP to drive its way through the quiet Christmas period and launch an impressive General Election campaign the likes of which have never been seen in Britain,” wrote Griffin in an email to supporters on 12 December. “As soon as we did make a breakthrough, the Equalities Commis-sion pounced in what was a carefully calculated effort to make the BNP unable to contest every seat in the country,” the arch conspiracy theorist continued. As a result the party had to “drastically scale back our General Election plans. … If you want to blame someone, blame the tax-guzzling foreigner Trevor Phillips,” said the racist, before going on to appeal to existing BNP members to upgrade their membership to “gold” for “a measly £30” or take out life membership for a more painful £465. One pot of money readily available to Griffin is the MEPs’ communications allowance for him and his fellow MEP, Andrew Brons. Each has £20,000 to spend on publicity about their work in the European Parliament and their constituency. While careful to acknowledge that the money cannot be used to promote the BNP, Griffin claims that when people hear of the two MEPs’ work, it will “have an effect”. The A3 folded glossy leaflets for the two constituencies will be ready for distribution “early in the new year”, revealed Griffin, providing “some cracking publicity”.

Leaflets will be an important part of the BNP election effort, but the BNP will not do telephone canvassing, Griffin promised, claiming that people do not like it. Instead BNP canvassers “will knock on doors”. Presumably he thinks voters are happier with a bunch of heavies at their front doors. Probably the real reasons the BNP has rejected telephone canvassing are that none of the sources of the necessary data would deal with the racist party and that the party’s canvassers sound even worse on the phone than on the doorstep. In choosing Afghanistan as one of his election themes, Griffin must hope that voters will overlook the contradiction with the party’s much repeated claims that Islam is trying to colonise Britain and Europe and impose Sharia, and that the Muslim community harbours terrorists. In his constituency newsletter Griffin denounces the war in Afghanistan arguing that British troops should only be sent to war “when the British people or British interests are being threatened”. Yet the BNP maintains that Islam has been engaged in a war on Western civilisation since its inception. Griffin lumps together the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ignoring the fact that, unlike the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan was a direct response to the terror attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001, with the aim, whether or not realistic, of preventing al-Qaeda using Afghanistan as an operational and training base.

Since then, Britain too has come under attack from al-Qaeda. Even where the individual terrorists were born in Britain, they were generally trained in or directed from Afghanistan or the Pakistan border area. There are good cases to be made that the war in Afghanistan may be unwinnable, or that Britain and the US have not committed sufficient resources, or that we should not support the Karzai administration, among other things, but it is unarguable that Islamist terrorism affects British people and British interests. Islamophobia is one of the guiding principles of the BNP except when it conflicts with the latest attempt to win votes, it seems. Rather than present a reasoned standpoint, Griffin resorts to emotion. Launching the party’s campaign to “Support our troops, bring them home” just before Christmas, Griffin described a “devastated, grieving mother” who spoke to him “recently” about the death of her “beautiful son” while serving in Afghanistan, and apparently implored Griffin to “help our boys out there or bring them home”. “These are the words now carved into my heart, the words of a grieving mother, words that I will carry with me to my grave and words that made me take a solemn oath to do every-thing in my power to honour, support and protect our fighting heroes who have been abandoned both on the battlefields of Afghanistan and back here at home,” gushed Griffin.

He went on to accuse “Brown, Cameron and Clegg” of being “evil leaders … liars and con artists [who] started and backed the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan …”. That none of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg were leaders of their respective parties in 2001, and that Clegg has consistently opposed the war in Iraq, must have passed Griffin by in his excitement over a new cause for an appeal for money. Announcing a “daring and innovative strategy to expose the hypocrisy, lies and cover-ups relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Griffin promises “a wave of activism, publicity material and direct action” which “will send shockwaves through the old parties and the traitors within the media”. It will consist of four phases. Firstly a “full-colour well-designed 12-page brochure, detailing the crimes against our soldiers” will be sent to “every MP, MSP, MLA, and AM as well as every member of the House of Lords and also every registered journalist in the UK”. Secondly, the BNP will send “10,000 brochures to each key town and city in every one of The BNP’s 12 regions”. The third stage will be, wait for it, a “nationwide truth tour” using “our very own ‘bought and paid for’ professional advertising lorry”. That’s the “truth truck”, better known as the lie lorry, a vehicle that the BNP does not own but leases from the hardline anti-abortion campaigner Jim Dowson. The tour will be followed by BNP TV films.

Anyone who thinks they have read this before would be right. The campaign has been recycled, almost word for word, from the BNP’s “Racism cuts both ways” initiative of autumn 2008. The 12-page outrage-ously Islamophobic brochure on that occasion listed 167 people whom the BNP alleged had been murdered as a result of anti-white racism, although only in a handful of the cases was there any clear indication of a racial motive and in several the perpetrator was white not black. The BNP claims to be different. Too true. No other party would go into a general election on the back of racism, Islamophobia, a recycled clapped out campaign, nothing to say on the issues that really concern the electorate and a lead policy selected solely to pull votes from the UKIP.
The EDL stokes up violence and race hatred wherever it marches. It now seems that both sides of fascism – electoral work and street fighting – will target Stoke-on-Trent together this month. The fascist British National Party (BNP) is also focusing on the city. It had a press conferenceon January 15th which launched the BNP’s general and local election campaigns in the city. The BNP already has nine councillors in Stoke-On-Trent. But the potential to drive back the fascists was clearly shown last summer, when 20,000 people – mostly young, white local residents – attended a Love Music Hate Racism festival in Stoke. The Nazis have 12 councillors on the local in Barking council. The BNP winning local council seats has made people more wary - it creates divisions. Police statistics show that when the BNP wins seats racist and homophobic crime rises significantly. In Barking’s Eastbury ward, racist and homophobic violence, theft and criminal damage more than doubled after the election of the BNP’s Jeffrey Steed in 2006. Forty five racial incidents were reported in the following year. The fascists work on people’s discontent, the lack of jobs and low status they suffer. They say ‘Here is your scapegoat’, and point to black people. The BNP’s latest leaflet talks about crime and has pictures of young white men who have been killed. It’s insidious; people will assume that they were killed by black people – but they weren’t. It plays on prejudices. We need to nip this in the bud, or it will escalate and lead to the destruction of communities

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