Sunday, 8 March 2009

Mobilising against the BNP

by Daphne Liddle

THE HOPE Not Hate campaign against fascism is calling on trade union members throughout Britain to mobilise for a cross-union campaign day – set for 15th May – against the fascist British National Party.

The aim is to stop the BNP from winning seats in the European elections and the campaign hopes to get hundreds of union branches doing some kind of activity on this day in what, they say, will easily be the biggest show of opposition to fascism by trade unions in recent years.

The editor of Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, Nick Lowles, said: “The trade unions have a vital role to play in the European election campaign. Between them they organise almost seven million members, double that if you include other adults in the members’ households.

“Given the low turnout expected in June, the unions’ role could be decisive if they can increase the turnout of their members.

“And it is precisely because of this potential that Searchlight has been encouraging unions to target their members like never before.”

Nick also reported on the success of combined anti-fascists in getting the cancellation of a planned national BNP rally in Liverpool on 14th March.

The plan caused particular anger among Everton football supporters after police requested the team to reschedule a home match with Stoke City because they did not have enough police to cope with a BNP rally and a football match on the same day.

Trade Union Friends of Searchlight (Tufs) is an organisation that exists to provide assistance and advice to unions fighting racism and fascism.

It exposes the activities of fascists in the workplace and produces background briefings and monitors the BNP union “Solidarity”.

A Tufs statement said: “Trade unions are proud to campaign against the extremism of the BNP. We do this because we care about communities in which we work and the people who live within them.

“We have seen where the politics of hate can lead during the violent disturbances in Oldham and Burnley in 2001.

“We see the BNP’s dishonest blaming of minorities for everything as a cowardly substitute for challenging those with real power to address the real problems with which we deal every day.

“This campaign is a bread-and-butter matter for unions. We are only as strong as our members. Our influence to get the better terms and conditions our members deserve depends on us having a strong and united membership.”

Tufs has produced an anti-BNP “toolkit”, including a magazine and a DVD. The DVD is £20 to union branches but is free to branches affiliated to Tufs.

Further information is available from Hope not Hate at PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG or