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Developing a strategy to defeat the far-right
ON 27 March a conference in Nottingham, called by Nottingham Unity Committee, brought together delegates from several independent anti-racist and anti-fascist groups as well as trades union organisations from around the country.
With the danger posed by the far-right racist BNP's electoral challenge in the general election and the continued activities of the anti-Muslim 'English Defence League' (EDL), activists wanted to discuss a strategy to oppose them.
Opening the conference, the chair said: "It is not enough just to say that the EDL are racists and the BNP are fascists" in order to defeat them.
Many people, particularly ex-Labour voters, feel they have been "failed by the mainstream parties". Overwhelmingly the conference believed that a political answer is needed that could take up the issues facing working class people around the theme of "jobs and homes not racism".
Resolutions were passed on how to oppose both the BNP and the EDL, recognising that there are differences between the two organisations.
Whilst arguing for mass action to oppose them, including demonstrations, we also need to offer "working class political solutions" and to build a base with those arguments in communities.
What is needed is to build community based, open and democratic campaigns that also aim to mobilise the trade unions.
Delegates discussed experiences of the local campaigns present. Dave, a Socialist Party member from Lincoln against Racism and Fascism explained how the BNP were holding a regular Saturday street stall when the campaign was set up.
That has been stopped, and the BNP's electoral strength has been weakened. Socialist Party members argued that a new workers' party is also necessary to undercut the BNP's support from disillusioned workers - the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition standing in this general election is a step in that direction.
Not everyone there accepted this however, some still call for a vote for Labour. There was general agreement though that the existing national campaigns -'Hope not Hate' and 'Unite Against Fascism' do not provide a programme to answer the problems faced by workers who could be attracted by the BNP.
They either call for a vote for 'anyone but the BNP' or, by implication, a vote for Labour. In addition the UAF has repeatedly failed to work together with independent locally based campaigns.
The conference decided we need to link together the campaigns attending the conference and others that weren't there and to strive to build a network of campaigns based on a democratic approach.
It was a good conference, although much remains to be done to build campaigns in local communities across the country, to mobilise against the EDL events and to develop the coordinating committee which the conference agreed to establish.
More information is available from NottmStopBNP@yahoo.co.uk
A PROTEST in Hastings against the British National Party, organised by South East Youth Fight for Jobs (YfJ), dealt a blow to BNP aspirations locally.
It was called after the Confederation of Small Businesses invited the racist BNP to a local hustings of general election candidates.
Fraser MacInnes South East Socialist Party
The protest received vociferous support from local activists, trade unionists, workers and students.
YFJ went to local education institutions, appealing to young people's outrage at the BNP's racism and the current economic climate and the proposals of vast cuts in services.
The BNP undermines working class unity and makes it easier for politicians and bosses to make us pay for their crisis.
Socialist Party and YfJ speeches were particularly welcomed. One union activist was delighted to hear a political alternative proposed, wholeheartedly agreeing with us on the need for a new mass party to represent working people's interests.
In The Socialist 1 April 2010:
PCS strike action
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review