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Mass Action And Socialism To Fight The Fascist Threat
ABSTENTIONS IN the local elections on 2 May are expected to reach a new record.
By the time The Socialist goes to the print we will know whether the collapse in votes for the mainstream capitalist parties has helped the neo-Nazi British National Party (BNP) win any council seats in England.
Naomi Byron, Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE)
The election of a BNP councillor would provoke a huge wave of anger and revulsion which must be turned into mass action against the far right.
The BNP are not just a racist party but a fascist organisation who believe they are part of the master race and want to set up a Nazi dictatorship in Britain.
Supported financially by rich, anti-working-class reactionaries, the BNP aims to cut across any working-class unity and smash opposition to the dictatorship of big business. Any growth in BNP support is a threat to working-class people everywhere.
If the BNP win any seats, the blame will lie squarely at the door of New Labour and their Tory policies. Their pro-big business, capitalist agenda has betrayed millions of working-class people, while their racist policies and propaganda against asylum seekers were key in opening the door to a far right revival.
The Establishment in Britain - the main parties, the media, etc - who are now condemning Le Pen and the BNP, are the very ones that gave the BNP and the National Front the confidence to campaign publicly, several years after their defeat at the hands of the militant anti-racist movement.
Blunkett's "swamping" statement and the current New Labour attempts to out-BNP the BNP on asylum will only legitimise this fascist organisation and increase their support.
There is an element of truth in Le Pen's statement that his policies are no more racist than Tony Blair's. The "transit centres" for migrants posed by the Front National (FN) in France bear a grim similarity to the "reception centres" for asylum seekers proposed by New Labour.
The idea of "French first" proposed by Le Pen has found an echo in the current government proposals to exclude refugee children from mainstream schools in Britain.
The recent increase in votes for the BNP doesn't mean a shift to the right in society or that the BNP is becoming a mass force. The BNP are a tiny, isolated fascist sect that cannot be compared to the mass fascist parties that seized power in Italy in the 1920s and Germany in the 1930s, except that their ideas and ambitions are the same.
They have admitted to their own inability to build as a neo-Nazi group and are trying to copy the more "respectable" populism of Le Pen in France and Haider in Austria. However, despite their isolated and tiny forces, a BNP councillor would represent a real threat, both locally and nationally.
The challenge to the BNP has to come from the Left - socialists, trade unions and anti-racist campaigners. These are the forces that defeated the National Front (NF) in the 1970s and the BNP in the 1990s in Britain.
Now, whether or not the BNP win any seats, it is up to the Left and the new generation of young people to build a movement which can defeat the BNP and other far-right groups.
Trade unionists and council workers should refuse to cooperate with any BNP councillor, as Tower Hamlets' council workers did when the BNP had a councillor there for eight months in the mid-1990s.
The trade union movement must call a demonstration against racism and fascism in the Greater Manchester area, (where the BNP has been most active) properly organised, stewarded and built for, to give confidence to all those who oppose the BNP and to demonstrate that it is the fascists who are weak and isolated.
Community defence campaigns, democratic and accountable, must be organised to prevent an upsurge in racist attacks as the BNP vote can give confidence to both BNP members and local racists.
Although the fascists may score some victories, the Left is making significant gains, in elections, in the trade union movement and elsewhere. In the long-term the way to cut across support for the far right is to build a strong socialist movement that can provide a genuine solution to unemployment, low pay, poverty, bad housing and all the problems working-class people face.
YRE, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG. Tel 020 8558 7947.
In The Socialist 3 May 2002: