The fascist British National Party (BNP) hopes to make major gains in the general election but anti-Nazi activists are determined to stop them, writes Viv Smith
The party is fielding a record number of candidates.
Over 300 are standing for parliament and close to 400 for council seats.
The Nazis hope to elect their first MP in Barking & Dagenham where they are standing their fuhrer Nick Griffin.
They also want to gain control of the east London council where they already hold 12 seats.
Their other target is Stoke-on-Trent where they are standing deputy leader Simon Darby.
The stakes are incredibly high.
The Nazis have grown due to disillusionment with mainstream parties and the increased racism against Muslims and immigrants.
In 1987 the BNP fielded just two candidates and achieved 553 votes.
In the European elections last year they grabbed 943,598 votes, gaining two MEPs.
But in their target areas the BNP are standing fewer candidates than they had hoped to.
We should ramp up the campaign to stop them winning seats on 6 May.
Anti-fascist campaigners were out last weekend campaigning in towns and cities across Britain.
The PCS civil service workers’ union sponsored the Unite Against Fascism activities.
Students, trade unionists, pensioners and activists have been working hard to oppose the BNP in Glasgow, Newcastle, Dudley, Cumbria, Barnsley, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Barking (see below), Stoke, Portsmouth and other places.
In the few weeks that remain before the election, every anti-fascist should get in touch with their local UAF group and get involved in the fight to halt the BNP’s progress.
Stoke has been a BNP target area for years.
They hope to build on the despair caused by a devastated local industrial base and rising unemployment.
The combination of seven sitting BNP councillors and the recent English Defence League riot through the city has given the racists confidence.
The BNP are fielding four new candidates for council seats and two for re-election.
Simon Darby, who has been shipped in to stand for MP in Stoke Central, is continuing to whip up hysteria about immigrants.
In a recent interview he accused immigrants of “genetically modifying this area, they are bringing in people with a different genetic make-up”.
Although two BNP councillors resigned earlier this year, the BNP still poses a significant threat.
Because of political fragmentation in Stoke the BNP could become the largest group on the council if they win all four new seats.
But anti-fascist activists have been busy—campaigners from North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (Norscarf) and UAF held two days of action last weekend.
Activists gave out thousands of leaflets on Sunday. Anti-fascists travelled from Stafford, Burnley and Manchester to help.
A Unison union rep, who had received a UAF leaflet through his door, came out and asked for leaflets to distribute.
He left his details to be kept in touch about the campaign.
Activists also held a stall on Saturday in Longton, the area where the BNP won their first council seat in the city.
Paul Jenkins, the local UAF organiser, told Socialist Worker that the response was encouraging.
“The first time we held a stall in Longton we received some hostility,” he said.
“However, Saturday’s stall was extremely positive—the overall feeling was that the majority of people are against the BNP and do not want them here.
“They must be mobilised to vote to stop the Nazis sneaking in.
“We tackled real arguments when we spoke to people dispelling the lies that the BNP tell.
“The battle is far from won.
“We have a serious task on our hands in Stoke and it is important that anti-fascists come to help the campaign whenever they can in the next few weeks.
“We would like people to particularly come on Sunday 25 April, the next Stoke day of action, which has been sponsored by the NUT teachers’ union.”
Join the counter-protest against the BNP’s anti-immigration demonstration, 2pm, this Thursday 15 April, Home Office, Lunar House, 40 Wellsley Road, Croydon.
For details of the Northern carnival against the Nazis, and major anti-Fascist gig in Barking go to » lovemusichateracism.com