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Unity To Drive Out Fascists!
LAST WEEKEND, there were successive nights of serious fighting in Burnley, Lancashire, apparently triggered by an argument over noise at a party.
By a member of Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE)
After Asian neighbours complained, white party-goers responded with threats, and a van suspected of belonging to a British National Party (BNP) supporter arrived.
Violence followed. An Asian taxi driver had his car stoned, and his cheek broken with a hammer. Vehicles, pubs and shops were attacked and burned.
Afterwards, the establishment "condemned" the violence and appealed for calm - easy to say!
Equally quickly they claim that 'this is not another Oldham'. Yet there are similarities in the events, and in the tasks facing anti-racists and socialists.
In Burnley the BNP polled 4,151 votes in the general election; in nearby Pendle they polled 1,976. The BNP are clearly targeting Burnley and this must be resisted.
As in Oldham, the Nazis use violence to peddle racist lies about 'rights for whites' - an excuse to encourage racist attacks on non-whites.
This will mean more Oldham-style riots and/or attacks, in which rage, frustration, racial attacks and fascist provocations will combine in explosions.
Our response must be based on labour movement and community residents' united action and self-organisation. Burnley's Labour MP Peter Pike refuses extra resources for Burnley on the incredible pretext that this would encourage violence!
Worse still, in a racist move, Oldham council has diverted resources from Asian areas to white areas. We won't fight each other over scraps but will unite to demand our full and rightful share.
The public-sector union UNISON's recent conference resolved to organise a demonstration in the North West against racism and fascism. Socialist Party and YRE members are building locally and nationally in the unions for this.
Support exists - it must be mobilised. A united campaign should demand a halt to cuts and sell-offs - as is happening with Oldham council housing; for decent homes and public services; for full employment on living wages; for free and fully funded education.
Action in Oldham must be linked to action in Burnley, and in Tameside where the BNP got 1,600 votes.
The Nazis have no real roots; they whip up trouble but have no serious answers to our problems.
The Lancashire labour movement is potentially very powerful; organising thousands of workers of all races alongside community groups can drive the fascists back into the sewer.
On an anti-fascist programme of social demands we can beat the BNP, cut across racism, and win real advances for the workers, youth and poor of the Lancashire region.
In The Socialist 29 June 2001: