Sunday, 25 March 2007

"Fighting" the BNP

Ever felt like you've been wasting your time? Earlier today I spent a knackering couple of hours pounding the streets of Fenton and Longton delivering Unite Against Fascism leaflets.

Just a bit of background about Longton North. This was the BNP's breakthrough ward in 2003 when Steve Batkin got himself elected to the council. He was joined the following year by Mark Leat, and in 2006 the ward was the BNP's primary target in the council election. Nick Griffin himself turned up at the count to oversee what would be the first ward in the country to have total BNP representation. Unfortunately for them it was not to be and Labour's hapless Denver Tolley managed to retain his seat.

So now it's Batkin's turn again. Since being elected he's become known as something of a dullard in the council chamber, barely turning up to votes or committees, and only speaking twice in chambers since his election! Nevertheless he retains his popularity in his Longton stronghold for his frequent populist gestures. Inbetween putting out leaflets blaming foreigners and Marxists for the woes of Stoke, he's been known go litter picking, lawn mowing, and helping out locals with their problems. That he's dismissively known as 'bin bag Batkin' for being seen about the ward says more about his mainstream critics inability to connect with voters than Batkin's.

You would think that anti-fascist literature targeting Batkin would have to be right on the money. Perhaps attacking his abysmal record on the council would be a good place to begin, which sits rather uneasily with the community councillor image he's attempted to cultivate. Or attack the BNP on their claims to represent the white working class when their pro-cuts position on the council, such as withdrawal of funds from the city's Citizens Advice Bureau, is a kick in the teeth. Sadly not.

The UAF leaflet attacks Batkin on three counts:

1) Batkin's holocaust denial. 
2) The BNP's hate-mongering over plans for Stoke's only purpose-built mosque. 
3) Batkin not paying his council tax.

That is it! Given everyone in Longton is well aware of Batkin's far right lunacy (not least because his ward has been plastered with UAF and Searchlight material in the past) and his support remains undiminished, highlighting his and the BNP's racism and Islamophobia just won't cut it. And as for not paying his council tax, given its relentless rise to pay for council mismanagement, is a failure to pay likely to count against him?

But the introductory blurb was even worse:
The BNP is a fascist organisation. Fascists stand for the total annihilation of sections of society. When fascists came to power in Nazi Germany a total of 15 million people were murdered in the 1930s.
A more politically illiterate statement is seldom seen. When were fascists not in power in Nazi Germany? And were 15 million people killed by the Nazis before 1940? Hmmm, I think not.

Would the BNP have any trouble batting away these attacks? Of course not. Do these leaflets challenge the BNP's ideas in any meaningful way? They come nowhere near.

What I find really depressing is this approach to anti-fascism hasn't moved on since the height of the National Front in the late 70s. Whereas pointing out the Nazi connection may have done the trick in conjunction with concerted labour movement action against them then, it is woefully inadequate now, especially without the backing of the latter. But then this liberal approach to anti-fascism is more about mobilising the non-BNP vote rather than tackling the reasons why people support the fascists in the first place, and even on these terms it fails to get out the 'anti-fascist' vote, as the low turn out figures consistently testify.

UAF, its Anti-Nazi League predecessor and the rest have got their heads in the sand. Whatever the result of the local elections in May, the same old literature will be churned out next year and the year after that while the BNP continues its steady advance.

Time for a serious rethink.

11 comments:

big_d said...

well said that man,

UAF's litterature only pushes the working class away from the left and into the hands of the BNP.

It's not like people aren't aware that the BNP are racists/biggots/facists/whatever, it's just that they've been shat on by labour and every other government for the past 60 odd years.

Duncan Money said...

Spot on post about UAF Phil.

Take a do it yourself approach though. UAF don't have a monopoly on anti-fascism, you can do it yourself.

If the UAF leaflets are crap then make your own mentioning the things you have in your post, especially the councillors crap record.

Seriously, it's what we do up here. All I do is sit down on publisher, type out a leaflet then head to UNISON offices to get them photocopied a few hundred times or get everyone in our group to print out some each, if they have a printer.

Seems to work as well.

Phil said...

Good idea Duncan. If I have the time and resources that is precisely what I'll do.

ejh said...

When were fascists not in power in Nazi Germany?

This is a rather silly objection, is it not? There's nothing wrong with the sentence at all.

I would have thought it quite important to observe that the BNP are nazis, since they spend quite a lot of time denying that this is so.

Is it really impossible for SP people to take any stance on other groups' ideas or literature other than "they're really unremittingly terrible"?

Phil said...

Yes, there's plenty wrong with the sentence because it strongly implies Nazi Germany existed *prior* to the fascists gaining power. And as for the 15 million murdered ...

Second, have you bothered to read my post? I quote:

"Given everyone in Longton is well aware of Batkin's far right lunacy (not least because his ward has been plastered with UAF and Searchlight material in the past) and his support remains undiminished, highlighting his and the BNP's racism and Islamophobia just won't cut it."

This isn't the first time Longton North has been leafleted with literature of this character. It's the *fourth* time. And yet the BNP's support remains undiminished. Just pointing out the 'nazi core' of the BNP in the absence of anything else has proven to be a failure, and yet the same old crap gets churned out. This suggests another tack needs taking. I don't know why so many activists find this difficult to grasp. It's common sense really.

JimDenham said...

You are quite right that a lot of UAF stuff is both an insult to the intelligence and almost calculated to alienate the white working class. I'll be giving out 'Searchlight' leaflets in West Brom this Sunday: they, too, are far from what we as socialists would want: but at least they are coherant and not calculated to alienate the white working class.

ejh said...

Yes, there's plenty wrong with the sentence because it strongly implies Nazi Germany existed *prior* to the fascists gaining power.

No it doesn't, Phil. That's a specious reading. There's nothing about "in" which means that the state of affairs to which it applies was in existence before the event described. If, for instance, one said "when Tottenham played Coventry in the 1987 FA Cup Final" would that imply that the 1987 FA Cup Final existed prior to Tottenham playing Coventry in it? If I said "when I told them to stuff their job in their my resignation letter"....

....well, you see the point. I mean by all means criticise, Phil, but don't scrape the barrel, hmm?

As an aside, I'm always suspicious of the term "implies" in socialist polemic. Almost inevitably it means "I am going to say that they are saying something that they did not actually say". It belongs alongside "illusions" in my A-Z of "terms of which I would like to see a lot less".

J is Jim Denham.

Phil said...

"That's a specious reading. There's nothing about "in" which means that the state of affairs to which it applies was in existence before the event described. If, for instance, one said "when Tottenham played Coventry in the 1987 FA Cup Final" would that imply that the 1987 FA Cup Final existed prior to Tottenham playing Coventry in it?"

Saying "when the fascists came to power in Nazi Germany" is entirely different from the FA cup example. A better comparison would be "when New Labour came to power in Blairite Britain", or "when the Bolshevik revolution took place in communist Russia". Both statements are inelegant and inaccurate. And besides, you can hardly accuse the post of focusing on this at the expense of everything else ...

AN said...

Anyway, this is a uesful post, beacsue the UAF approach has demonstrable failed.

The UAF stuff about the BNP being nazis is problematic in two areas:

i) they are not an openly facist party - so some proof is needed about specific links with nazi orgs, if we make that link at all.

ii) the argument comes a generation too late, it had real resonance during the 1970s, when people either had perosnally, or their parents had fought in the War, but nowadays Hitler is a bloke from history.

And yes the searchlight material is much better

varus said...

Phil,

an interesting post. I agree that the tactics are worng. firstly the term fascist is an greatly over used one and in the majority of situations wrongly used. Often people used it as a synonym of racism as these phnomemena were both present in Hitler's Germany. However, the former is about political method and does not presopose any view on issues such as ethnicity or race. Also, name calling doesn't really help and UAF would better target the actualy policy issues relevent to the ward's voters, rather than resort to mere nud slinging.
As far as your debate with ejh goes, you are ofcourse 100% correct and the sentence structure is rubish.

USpace said...

Anti-Fascist? Anti-Right Wing? The Radical Muslims that the Left is so eager to support are working to install Sharia Law little by little in the UK and Europe, and eventually they hope, all over the planet.

Sharia is a fascism of the sort the Left won't even allow themselves to have nightmares about. A theocratic regime is totally right-wing, fascist and totalitarian. A Christian Theocracy in the US, which so many Lefties seem to be so afraid of, could never happen, and even if it did, it wouldn't be anywhere near the neighborhood of the nightmare of Sharia Law.

The Left claims to care for women's and gay rights. Forget it totally under Sharia. Gays being beheaded and stoned to death, and rape victims getting stoned to death or 200 lashes for adultery?

Sharia Law approaching the extreme Taliban variety would make Hitler just look more organized.

Hitler was a Left-Wing, communist, Anti-Semitic Fascist thug. So how come the Left blames the Jews and Israel so much? Just Like Hitler and the Islamfascist terrorist monkeys blame/ed Jews. The Radicals would also hate communists and try to convert, tax or kill them because they are atheists.

If the Left really cared about human rights they would denounce the ways of extreme, literal Islam.

Fascism and totalitarianism has always been coming from the Left, not the Right, except in the case of Sharia Law.

So, the Left should ask themselves why are they supporting and helping a Right-wing, Anti-Semitic, Anti-NonMuslim theocracy take over a 'Democratic' Europe?

Anti-semitism is an ancient disease of the mind. What a brainwashed group many Arab Christians are for defending radical Islamists who are terrorizing them, they really are in deep denial. We must keep waking up all the Jews and Christians, on the Left and the Right.

It's a real scary situation with the Christian Arabs being driven out of Palestine and the Middle East and Western churches not defending them either.

The level of dhimmidiotness is astounding. This is shameful, all Christians should be ashamed for the behavior of their dhimmidiot Church leaders.

People should go up in their church when they are invited up to offer a prayer and say:

"I'd like to offer a prayer this Christmas for all the oppressed and harassed Arab Christians being driven out of Palestine and the Middle East."

And the church won't be able to stop it, it will be too quick.

This will open some eyes and get some parishioners wanting to learn more about this.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
harass all Christians

drive them from your lands
or watch people leave Islam


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
blame your failings on the Jews

for a few more thousand years
they are Earth's scapegoats


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
give Israel away

to appease her enemies
dishonor America


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
go ahead and blame the Jews

IslamoFascists and YOU
believe the same crazy shit


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
blame a small population

deflect your people's anger
let them feel superior


http://haltterrorism.com/

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com/
. .