Unite Against Fascism is a weird mob

    Update (August 5, 2008) : RWB toilet supplier targetted:

    Over the weekend the company who supply portable toilets to the BNP Red White and Blue event were targetted by militant antifascists. All companies who support the RWB can expect to be targetted also. If you make money by helping the BNP, we will cost you money!

    STS of Chesterfield, who happily process the BNP’s shit (and we all know they are full of it) by servicing the RWB event with portable bogs, had their depot in Pottery Lane East, Chesterfield, targetted. Their gates were locked and glued and the slogan “bnp = shite” graffitied. STS have their office at 47 Rockingham Close, Chesterfield, S40 1JE, phone 01246 278754 and 07889 832076. Get in contact and tell them what you think of their support for the BNP.

The British National Party is organising a Red White & Blue weekend gathering in a few weeks (August 15–17), and for some months local anti-fascists have been organising to protest and (presumably) to attempt to disrupt proceedings. Unfortunately, for reasons which have not been provided, the campaign group Unite Against Fascism, rather than endorse and/or participate in the action being organised by locals, have decided to arrange for a separate rally to protest the Festival, at a different time. Thus the Socialist Workers Party site — which appears to be the main force behind UAF — reports (July 29, 2008) that:

Trade unions and anti-Nazi activists across the East Midlands last week came together to form a regional Unite Against Fascism group to campaign against the BNP in the area and in the run-up to next year’s European elections. As one of its first actions, East Midlands UAF has called a protest and rally against the BNP’s “Red, White and Blue” hate-fest, due to be held in the village of Codnor, Derbyshire, on Saturday 16 August. The anti-BNP protest will take place at 11am, with coaches to the event leaving from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Coventry. For contact details, assembly points and start times go to the UAF website…

As the Socialist Party reports, via ‘Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP’, activists in Derbyshire and surrounding areas have been campaigning since January, generating broad community and trade union support. Another, anonymous (?) writer notes that:

Between 15 and 17 August, the British National Party will be holding its annual Red, White and Blue “festival” at Codnor-Denby in Derbyshire on land owned by former BNP councillor Alan Warner. For months now, local anti-fascist groups and trade unions have been working to organise a protest on 16 August.

This protest was initiated by Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP, a campaign launched in January by a conference of one hundred labour movement, student and anti-fascist activists sponsored by local unions including FBU, UCU, Unison and the NUT. Notts Stop the BNP aims to build an anti-fascist movement on a working-class basis – mobilising mass action to physically confront the fascists and raising social demands around issues like jobs, homes and services to undercut their base.

The protest also involves Derby Unite Against Fascism, other local anti-fascist groups and a multitude of trade union organisations. East Midlands Unison, East Midlands TUC and the rail union RMT are sponsoring it, and RMT general secretary Bob Crow will be speaking.

Unfortunately, the national Unite Against Fascism organisation has been less keen to support the protest. After months of refusing to acknowledge the issue at all – ignoring repeated invitations to come and get involved in the organisation of the protest, and refusing to announce it from the platform at various national events – UAF has now called its own protest, taking place just down the road and at a different time from where and when the main protest is taking place! (The UAF website implies that theirs is the only protest and supported by all the sponsors, but this is simply not true.)

UAF leader Weyman Bennett met representatives of the local campaign – including the chair of Derby UAF and a representative of East Midlands TUC – on Friday 25 July, but refused to agree to the amalgamation of the protests.

This is bizarre and outrageous behaviour.

UAF is dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP); it may be that its leadership are reluctant to support a protest that they do not control, and one organised with the involvement of other socialist groups. If so, they should sober up! This protest is far too important to let sectarianism get in the way. We call on UAF to enter negotiations with the local campaign for the amalgamation of their protest into the main one, so that we can strike at the BNP and their racist “festival” with a single fist.

Meanwhile, we urge the labour movement and anti-fascists to mobilise for the protest.

Bizarre and outrageous behaviour? Hmmm. Maybe… Maybe it’s worth acknowledging the role of the UAF in channeling anti-fascist activity in directions which are considered by its leadership — the SWP — as being of greatest benefit to it, rather than, as the name might suggest, the fight against ‘fascism’. But this can only be understood through examining the history of the UAF and the SWP, and its antecedents in organisations such as the Anti-Nazi League (ANL)…

    See also :

    Antifa UK | Militant anti-fascist.
    Institute of Race Relations | Est.1958, publishers of Race & Class.
    Love Music Hate Racism | Est. by the ANL/UAF (SWP) in 2001/2 to gain money and publicity and as a successor organisation to ‘Rock Against Racism’. Organised a big gig on April 27, 2008 in the hope that it would counter the BNP vote at the GLA Elections of May 1, 2008. The strategy failed, and the BNP gained an historic victory.
    National Assembly Against Racism | Est.1994. Aligned to Labour.
    Searchlight | Monthly investigative journal. Est.1975, widely suspected (in anarchist and other radical circles) of enjoying an overly-familiar relationship with state agencies.
    Stop the BNP | Um.
    Unite Against Fascism | Est.2004 as an amalgamation (of sorts) of the ANL (in the person of Weyman Bennett) and the NAAR (Lee Jasper).

    ‘United we will smash the Nazi BNP’, Socialist Worker, June 17, 2008 (“Joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism Weyman Bennett spoke to Socialist Worker about the rise of the BNP and about how we can defeat the fascists”)

Bonus!

A recent interview with British Holocaust revisionist David Irving (c/o Max Blumenthal by way of One Peoples Project):

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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15 Responses to Unite Against Fascism is a weird mob

  1. White Rights says:

    I never see opposition to festivals in support of African’s, nor Asian’s. Obviously more anti-white racism.

    Anti-Fascism=Anti-White

  2. White Rights says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhqAFLud228

    “Blame Whitey”.

    White people are being demonised.

  3. @ndy says:

    White Rights,

    Your comments have nothing to do with the subject of this thread, which is, as the title suggests, the recent decision by Unite Against Fascism to hold a rally separate to that arranged by Notts Stop the BNP, the National RMT, Midlands TUC, FBU East Midlands Region, UCU East Midlands Region, Notts Division NUT, South Notts NUT, Central Notts NUT, Notts Unison, Hope not Hate, Lancaster Unity, Kirklees Unity, Trade Union Friends of Searchlight, Derby UAF and Notts Refugee Forum and numerous other trade unions organisations and other anti-racist campaigns throughout the country.

  4. White Rights says:

    I’ve worked my arse off all my life to make a living – and many others have too. What have Anarchists/Communists done for people like myself? They’re more worried about non-exist[ant] racism th[a]n [the] fight for the truly oppressed – the working class.

  5. @ndy says:

    Right. You’re unable/unwilling to comment on the blogpost.

    If you’re interested in the history of the anarchist and communist movements, I suggest you read a book. One account I recommend is The Slow Burning Fuse: The lost history of the British Anarchists by John Quail. The first few chapters are available online, and describe how British anarchists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century participated in working class struggles.

    Also of relevance are the activities of SolFed, an anarcho-syndicalist organisation in the UK:

    SolFed is comprised of locals around the country, each of which practice direct democracy, managing their own struggles. Our aim is to replicate this in workplaces and communities across Britain, organising workers independently of government and business, to fight for our own interests as a class.

    Our ideals, “anarcho-syndicalism”, apply the logic of anarchism (the abolition of authority and its replacement with voluntary free association) to the practice of class struggle. At work, we establish networks of members in the same industry, where they democratically manage their own fight against exploitation. Instead of traditional trade unionism, where workers are “represented” (and then betrayed) by elected leaders, we think that workers should be in charge of their own organisations and determine how best to deal with their own problems.

    Eventually we see this principle being extended to every aspect of modern life, with community locals and industrial networks being used to determine what is produced and how it is distributed. The whole of society would participate in controlling everything, on an equal basis, organising production for the needs of everyone, not just a small minority. This is Libertarian Communism.

    Alternatively, there’s the Anarchist Federation, which describes its aims and principles as follows:

    The Anarchist Federation is an organisation of class struggle anarchists (based in Britain and Ireland, but with many contacts overseas) which aims to abolish Capitalism and all oppression to create a free and equal society. This is Anarchist Communism.

    We see today’s society as being divided into two main opposing classes: the ruling class which controls all the power and wealth, and the working class which the rulers exploit to maintain this. By racism, sexism and other forms of oppression, as well as war and environmental destruction the rulers weaken and divide us. Only the direct action of working class people can defeat these attacks and ultimately overthrow capitalism.

    As the capitalist system rules the whole world it’s destruction must be complete and world wide. We reject attempts to reform it such as working through parliament and national liberation movements (like the IRA) as they fail to challenge capitalism itself. Unions also work as a part of the capitalist system, so although workers struggle within them, they will be unable to bring about capitalism’s destruction unless they go beyond these limits.

    Class War Federation:

    This Is Class War

    The Class War Federation is an organisation of groups and individuals who have come together to change the society we live in, to improve the lot of Working Class people.

    This society is divided into classes based on control of its institutions and wealth. The Ruling Class – those who “own” the factories or natural resources – whether it’s through shares or being chairman of the board etc, who are under normal circumstances supported by the Middle Class – those who gain their position in society by patronage of the Ruling Class – who do their dirty work of controlling and (dis)organising the Working Class who do all the necessary work. Such a society is the root cause of most of the problems experienced by Working Class people the world over. As the Ruling Class has every intention of keeping its privileged position it must be destroyed – this is Class War.

    Real change can only come about by Working Class people organising themselves to deal with the problems that they experience and to provide for ourselves. It is not about becoming better treated slaves but masters of our destiny. Direct action is necessary against the individuals and institutions who stand in the way of this. There is no alternative. Violence is a necessary part of the Class War – not as elitist terrorists but as an integrated part of the class – they started it, we’ll have to finish it!

    Class society creates other abuses based upon the prejudices of the Ruling or Middle Class such as gender, ethnic origin, sexuality, disability. The Ruling Class often use these to divide our class. We must unite on the common basis of what we have in common – our Working Class background and needs.

    The Class must fight these divisions on all fronts. Above all the CWF believes that politics cannot be separated from life – and life from politics. We reject the missionary/righteous so-called “revolutionary” Left. Our politics must be fulfilling and relevant to our everyday lives.

    Working Class people must take responsibility for their progressive revolutionary politics – fly by night Middle Class radicals have been the bane of our movement for as long as the Working Class has existed.

    Our Aim

    Therefore the aim of the CWF is to increase the militancy and self awareness of the Working Class in defending their interests and solving their problems. We do this through propaganda, active participation and debate as equals.

  6. Dr. Cam says:

    @ndy, I will comment on the post by saying there’s an interesting article in an old AFA mag from early 93 that is especially relevant to this topic. It’s called something like “the failure of 92” or something.

  7. @ndy says:

    Hmmm…

    Fighting Talk

    No.2, Spring 1992

    AFA in action
    The Anti Nazi League
    Book review
    Legacy of the pink triangle
    Cable Street Beat News
    Debacle in Bermondsey
    Relaunching the national network
    AFA in the trade unions

    No.3, Summer 1992

    Fighting fascism in the nineties
    AFA in action
    Right target, wrong ammo?
    Cable Street Beat Review
    AFA International
    Racism
    Review
    Letters
    AFA in the trade unions

    No.4 [nd]

    Bloody Sunday: Who’s kidding who?
    Loyalism & Fascism
    Whatever you say — say nothing
    A View from Valhalla

    No.6 [nd]

    BNP Beaten in Burnley
    The Unity Article
    Gone to the Dogs?
    Police protect the…
    Germany Calling
    The BNP/Rangers Connection
    Fascism and the unions
    A View from Valhalla
    The Blueshirts
    Romper Stomper

  8. Does anybody want to hazard a guess as to why the BNP are so successful and why the various socialist organisations opposing the BNP have no idea why (the BNP is successful)?

  9. @ndy says:

    G’day Dazza,

    Dreaming of what might be?

    On the BNP’s success:

    Obviously, this depends on how you measure it. To begin with, it’s a minor political party, both in terms of membership and support. Thus it has no MPs, and receives only a tiny vote at general elections. According to the BBC:

      1997 General election:
      Votes: 35,832
      Share: 0.1%
      Seats: 0

      2001 General election:
      Votes: 47,129
      Share: 0.18%
      Seats: 0

      2005 General election:
      Votes: 192,850
      Share: 0.7%
      Seats: 0

    A modest increase of 0.6% over an eight-year period.

    The party has come close to securing a seat for Griffin in the European Parliament — winning 4.9% of the vote in 2004 — but is most successful at local elections. Here, it has 55 councillors. Of 159 councils, none are controlled by the BNP. According to the BBC, results for the 2008 elections were:

      Councillors // Councils

      Party : +/- / Total // +/- / Total

      CON : 257 / 3155 // 12 / 65
      LAB : -334 / 2365 // -9 / 18
      LD : 33 / 1804 // 1 / 12
      PC : 31 / 205 // -1 / 0
      OTH : 10 / 898 // 0 / 0
      NOC : – / – // -3 / 64

    Socialist parties and groups which oppose the BNP have various understandings of its ‘success’. Most, however, locate whatever electoral success it has experienced in the ‘failure’ of ‘New’ Labour to support the interests of the working class. For example:

    Unite against the BNP
    Respect Renewal
    July 21, 2008

    The BNP’s success in elections to local councils and the London Assembly should sound alarm bells. This is a party which is led by a Holocaust-denier and which wants to see an all-white Britain.

    Everywhere the BNP gain a presence racist violence follows. The BNP try to hide their Nazi roots and are cynically trying to build out of the despair created by the establishment parties abandoning working people in favour of big business.

    Worse, every time mainstream politicians scapegoat migrants, echo Islamophobic attacks on Muslims or concede to racism, it legitimises the murderous bigotry of the BNP. Respect refuses to give an inch to racism and bigotry. We support the widest possible movement to beat back the BNP.

    Labour abandons heartlands

    Respect MP George Galloway says, “The BNP can be beaten. Fifteen years ago, the fascists broke through in elections in Tower Hamlets, winning a council seat.

    “They were driven back by united community campaigning and a national movement led by the Anti Nazi League and others. Now it is Respect, which is proud of multicultural London and which stands up for minorities, which has broken through in the East End.

    “That means we were able to push the BNP into fourth place in the East London constituency at the London elections in May, despite their dangerously high votes in outer East London.

    “No one can be complacent, though. The BNP did win a seat on the GLA.

    “We in Respect are committed to fighting the BNP on two fronts. We want to unite irrespective of party to build a broad movement against the BNP and the racism they feed on. When it comes to opposing the BNP you will not put a cigarette paper between me and Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham, where the fascists hope to take further ground. We do not have the luxury of petty divisions.

    “We in Respect also believe that unless we tackle the crisis over housing, the spiralling food and fuel bills that are hitting millions of people, the hopelessness in so many areas of the country and the sheer lack of representation for working people, then the BNP are always going to find people they can con into supporting them. “This Labour government is failing across the board. The Tories and, far worse, the BNP hope to build out of people’s despair.

    “Respect seeks to offer hope – at the ballot box and alongside all those struggling for a decent society.

    “Where Respect is strongest – in south Birmingham, Tower Hamlets and Newham where we have councillors – the BNP are pushed to the margins.

    “So as well as a broad movement against the BNP, Respect is trying to expand and wants to work with other progressive people to provide a credible political alternative anchored, as Labour at its best once was, in local working class communities, black, Asian & white.”

    Where now?
    Nick Lowles
    Searchlight
    June 2008

    The British National Party’s success in the London Assembly elections coupled with its small but continued progress across the country provides an ideal opportunity critically to assess where the campaign against the British National Party is going…

    Tory ‘march on Rome’
    James Turley
    Weekly Worker [Communist Party of Great Britain]
    May 8, 2008

    The Tories are a far bigger threat than BNP, says James Turley

    The numbers speak for themselves: across the country, 12 local councils have passed into the overall control of the Conservatives, who now hold 65 in total to Labour’s 18. The Tories are the largest fraction (though nevertheless a minority) in the London assembly, and Boris Johnson has deposed Ken Livingstone for the top job.

    The British National Party, meanwhile, picked up a net gain of 12 councillors around the country – not earth-shattering, but the leadership will be pleased. Far more exciting for Nick Griffin and his cohorts is their success in getting Richard Barnbrook elected to the LA by meeting the 5% additional member threshold. Their share of the vote did not increase drastically by any means, but the 0.6% they did gain was enough to get a toehold. The National Front, meanwhile, achieved respectable votes in two constituencies (and in Greenwich and Lewisham outperformed the Left List’s Jennifer Jones and Socialist Party’s Chris Flood combined). Even the English Democrats, an idiosyncratic rightwing party, managed to get 10,695 votes for its mayoral candidate – despite the fact that he had withdrawn his candidacy…

    Move to the right punishes New Labour for 10 wasted years
    The Left List [Socialist Workers Party]
    May 3, 2008

    The whole political spectrum moved right in the local and London elections as voters punished New Labour for ten years of privatisation and warmongering. The whole of the left is paying for New Labour’s failure to defend its core working class voters. We now have a right wing mayor and a Nazi presence on the London Assembly…

    How can we defeat the far right? Mass action needed
    Naomi Byron
    The Socialist [The Socialist Party]
    April 23, 2008

    The far-right, racist British National Party (BNP) is hoping to gain a seat on the Greater London Assembly on 1 May, as well as more councillors round the country. This prospect will horrify many people who oppose racism and understand the wider dangers of the growth of the far right.

    The BNP has tried hard to reinvent itself as a respectable populist party. However, most of its leading members remain convinced neo-Nazis and ‘white supremacists’ who believe that they are part of the ‘master race’ and that all other races are inferior.

    How can such an organisation get support? One reason is that from the defeats they suffered in the 1990s they have learned to hide their real ideology. They know that by openly expressing these ideas they will remain tiny and marginalised.

    Therefore they claim that they aren’t racist, and formally have dropped some policies such as making homosexuality illegal and forced repatriation of migrants. It is not that key BNP members don’t maintain their support for these ideas – they just realise they are very unpopular.

    But the main reason the BNP have attracted hundreds of thousands of votes recently is because the policies of the three main capitalist parties, Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, have meant worse conditions for working people.

    The stench of corruption in these parties – MPs’ expenses are only the latest scandal – and their contempt for ordinary workers (shown for example by the abolition of the 10% tax rate) has opened up a vacuum in politics for workers’ interests…

  10. Atreus says:

    Darrin Hodges, another BNP fuckwit with bollock all to do except trawl antifash sites either

    a) squawking about his “free speech”

    b) telling the antifash how great the BNP are doing ‘cos he’s swallowed shedloads of Griffin bullshit and is dim enough to buy it

    About time you joined us for a bit of input on the Unity forum, @ndy

    http://unitywebring.com/forum/yabb/

  11. @ndy says:

    Actually Atreus, Dazza is a fair dinkum Aussie fascist and electoral candidate for the Australian Protectionist Party. When they grow up they wanna be like the BNP I think.

  12. Dr. Cam says:

    ‘Debacle in Bermondsey’ is the one I was talkin’ ’bout. It’s about a debacle, Andrew, which is almost like a failure.

  13. @ndy says:

    Of course. My apologies.

  14. @ndy says:

    Those who wish to lead a serious offensive against racism and fascism on the streets and estates of London cannot afford to be casual about building grass roots support. Bermondsey shows what can happen when this is not done

    After the debacle of Thamesmead, on Saturday 24th August 1991 an anti-racist march called by the National Black Caucus and supported by the Society of Black Lawyers, wandered from Peckham through Camberwell along the Old Kent Road and Southwark Park, Bermondsey. The march attracted some 300 people. No real effort was put into building for a large principled opposition to the racists and/or the fascists who have been operating in South London. Effectively the largest group working in this area are Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). We were neither informed of the march nor invited to any planning meetings. In contrast to this exclusion of AFA was the invitation to the police to attend the stewards meeting (they accepted)! These decisions defy all logic!

    If invited to planning meetings AFA would have argued against having such an event at this time. Despite this position AFA decided it should have a presence on the march in order to have an influence on any future activities hatched by the incompetents of the National Black Caucus. In the event the AFA contingent was the largest to attend.

    All the rumours of various groups being politicised and turning up en masse to support the initiative turned out to be hot air that the National Black Caucus seems to specialise in. There were very few members of the local community present. This was a direct result of the lack of planning, lack of publicity and lack of vision that had typified the (mis)organisation of this demonstration.

    As the march progressed there were constant rumours about groups of fascists and racists waiting on the Old Kent Road. They always seemed to be exaggerated, and the stewards either contributed to them or ignore them, being happy to let the march straggle out far too loosely for safety’s sake.

    However, on turning into the estates it was immediately apparent that the rumours in fact grossly underestimated both the number and the quality of people opposing the march. The streets were alive with people, with groups of up to sixty voicing their very militant opposition to the march. As the march reached Southwark Park it was confronted with almost the entire population of the surrounding estates leaning from balconies and lining the streets, complete with Union Jack flags, shouting abuse at the “invaders”.

    As the march started to enter the park further progress was prevented by a wave of some 300 racists storming across the park towards us. This was bad, but worse was to come as two further waves of about the same numbers also charged across to join their compatriots. Fortunately they did not attack the march. However, there is no doubt the vast majority of the counter-demonstrators were willing and able to physically oppose the demonstration. Equally there is no doubt that the vast majority of the demonstrators were both unwilling and unable to defend themselves. As the threat became more apparent the march stewards formed up holding hands, with their backs to the racists and faced th demonstrators — see no evil and there is no evil!

    The organisers then began demanding that the racists be removed from the park, claiming that the police had reneged on their promises. How can they seriously expect those that they purport to oppose to either make promises in good faith or to honour those promises once things begin to go wrong — particularly given that the most consistent chant on the march was “Who are the racists — the police are the racists”? Yet another proof that the National Black Caucus exists on a planet completely separate form the rest of us.

    The extra-terrestrial influence was again displayed when it was announced, from the roof of a minibus whilst we were still under siege, that the march was a success and that it would be repeated before the end of the year. The only success that could be envisaged at this stage was getting out of the area safely. Any realistic analysis must conclude that [the] march was a complete and abject failure.

    Surveying the local streets and shopping areas in the afternoon and evening reinforce this view. Asian and black shopkeepers were seen in their shops looking out through pulled-down shutters into the area where they live and work, in fear of the consequences of this adventure. These fears were realised as the day progressed and the black and Asian working class residents and workers in the area suffered verbal and physical abuse to themselves, their cars, their shops, their homes and their bodies. This, while the middle class leadership of the National Black Caucus and Society of Black Lawyers scuttled back to their comfortable areas. Instead of uniting the residents around the class they were split on the basis of colour.

    What was the reaction of the press to the demonstration? For the most part they found it inexplicable and chose to ignore it. Those that mentioned it, in contrast to normal practice, over estimated the number of anti-racists, and, in keeping with normal practice, minimised the threat posed by the racists.

    The local papers opened their letter columns to the people of Bermondsey, and most writers expressed views in support of the counter-demonstration and against the antics of those who called the march.

    The SWP in a paragraph hidden away in their paper offered the opinion that it was a minor defeat. Anti-racists, having set the timetable of events, had the opportunity to work for as long as they needed, but only mobilised 300. The fascists of the BNP were able, in a few days, to mobilise a whole working class estate to their side. If the SWP’s position is really to take the socialist struggle to the labour movement and inspire the working class then the day’s events can at best be described as the portent of a major disaster.

    British Nationalist, the BNP paper, offered the view that it was a victory for them and for the working class of Bermondsey. In this analysis they are half correct; it was a victory for the BNP, but it was a clear defeat for the working class, a defeat suffered at the hands of the march organising committee.

    We should have no illusions about the events of 24th August. It was a major disaster. It has set back the work AFA is doing in South London appreciably. To be successful any demonstration has to involve the local community both during the events itself and at its organisational stages. This was never done. No attempt was made to contact community groups, labour movement or political groups, workers, or residents of Bermondsey. The result was hardly surprising.

    The BNP are not as naive as groups not actively involved in anti-fascist struggle like the Black National Caucus, SWP, etc would have us believe. They did produce propaganda that alerted people and called on them to “protect Bermondsey against invasion”. They did not, in the lead up to the day, play the race card — they had no need to. The unsubtle propaganda of the National Black Caucus had already identified all white people in the area as racist supporters of the race-attackers.

    The BNP had no need to add anything more to their message until the march started. By then they held all the cards and were able to win support on the basis of being the controllers of the streets, the group that empowered workers enabling them to exercise influence in their areas. The BNP are truthfully able to say that they chivvied a ragbag march along the streets of South London, confined it to a dismal corner of a park, contained it until they got bored and then pushed it out of the area.

    The march should have gone through working class areas and estates with a message to unite the class. However, as with many things the practice needs a little more thougt, a little more planning, and a lot more than merely announcing a demonstration, publishing a route and strolling along on a march.

    To effectively combat fascism and/or racism a full campaign must be launched. Not isolated, possibly well-intentioned events. AFA’s position has always been to argue against the “publicity stunts” of ‘gesture” politics. A solitary march cannot be described as a campaign though it could be the prelude to a campaign. But no campaign was intimated prior to the march, nor to the participants on the day. Nor has one emerged in the weeks following the march. But if there is no campaign planned what, then, are the motives for the march?

    Is it that the organisers knew of the likely response? Maybe they had taken heed of our position — that despite the relatively low numbers of active fascists their potential strength is enormous. Perhaps the strategy was to lift the stone and look at the maggots. If so, no thought was given to the consequences, to the number of maggots exposed. No one considered that the maggots might decide to occupy two stones once they had been disturbed. If this is truly the reason then it smacks of the revolutionary tourist faction of political activity — untenable and indefensible.

    Were the motives more sinister? Rumours abound that the National Black Caucus and the Society of Black Lawyers are keen to increase their state funding. Clearly to do this they need to have a high profile. Numerous activities in the public eye suit this strategy, whilst the more arduous planning and street level work a good campaign needs has too low a visibility level to attract funds.

    Or, more likely, were the motives political naivety? Perhaps the middle class leadership of the NBC and SBL do not know how working class estates operate. Perhaps they did not know that these particular estates were predominantly white and racist with an historical connection to the far right.

    It is abundantly clear that these people do not recognise fascists. They still live in the late 1970s and early 80s where it was far easier (though never totally accurate) to say that all fascists are skinheads and all skinheads are fascists. Nowadays it is dangerous to make those assumptions.

    The BNP, the National front, and the British Movement are not predominantly composed of skinheads and the anti-fascist movement does include a significant number of skinheads. The organsiers and stewards were visibly shocked that the opponents were casuals and completely non-plussed that a number of AFA supporters were skinheads.

    Regardless of the motives behind the schemes of groups like the NBC it is clear that they have neither the political analysis, the base in the community nor the willingness to develop a base through grass roots work.

    After August 24th AFA representatives were invited to a number of local meetings to debate the merits of another similar march through the same area. Fortunately AFA has more credibility and more logic than the adventurers who want a repeat showing, and we were able to isolate the supporters of a follow-up march. Our view is that no more events should be attempted without first doing grass roots work on the local estates and streets, and without involving a wide section of the community in building for it.

    AFA is active in South London and is prepared to assist with building a campaign with realistic and achievable objectives. If the lessons of Bermondsey are learned and translated into a workable strategy then AFA would show support and encourage people to attend.

    However, the end of 1991 saw the NBC threatening to invite Farrakan to this country on the grounds that “if they can invite a white racist [Le Pen] then we can invite Farrakan”. And 1992 has seen the re-emergence of a proposal that everyone hoped was pure rhetoric — to march on Bermondsey again. Again it is thought that this can be done without any work in the community. Again it will fail. Again the responsibility will lie with pure political opportunists. We need no more evidence of their failure to grasp the realities of broad-based anti-racist anti-fascist work. No support should be given to these opportunistic misconceived adventures.

  15. Atreus says:

    Sorry @ndy – he posts that much on the BNP it’s hard to tell the difference 🙂

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