On the 20th September, thousands of activists will be mobilising in Manchester on the occasion of Labour's annual conference to protest against the continued occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. But down the road, in Stoke-on-Trent, another significant event is taking place.
Readers may recall that last summer, Stoke BNP activist Keith Brown was killed after a long running dispute with his Asian neighbour, Habib Khan. Unsurprisingly and distastefully, the BNP nationally and locally have opportunistically made racist hay with the subsequent court case, at which Khan was found guilt of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years. To protest this the BNP are parachuting in (they claim) around 400 activists this Saturday. They plan to deliver leaflets, attend a public rally (apparently, with the so-called Truth Truck) and go for a slap up meal afterward.
Characteristically the BNP have kept the location of their rally close to their chests. But they have obtained permission from the police to hold it. Also, the police have banned local anti-fascist group, NorSCARF (North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism) from holding any kind of counter-protest in Hanley, leading activists to believe the BNP's rally will be held somewhere in the vicinity of the city centre.
Chances are the BNP rally will be very heavily policed, so anyone looking to come to Stoke to "physically confront" the fascists are going to be disappointed.
Nevertheless there are two counter events taking place.
First, NorSCARF are holding what it calls a 'Unity and Peace' vigil at 10am, this Saturday, NORSACA car park, Cannon Place (off Broad Street/Victoria Square), Hanley (also supported by UAF and LMHR)
Second, from 12 onwards in Hanley Forest Park, north of the city centre, thousands of local young people will be coming together for the Jam It Unity Festival, organised by the Youth Arts Forum. Anti-fascists will have a series of stalls and meetings at the event, and will be organising large teams to go out and counter-leaflet the BNP in the afternoon and evening all across Stoke. Socialist Party members will be distributing our new anti-BNP leaflet and thousands will be available for those outside the area who want to give us a hand. Activists who don't fancy distributing SP material are more than welcome to bring their own and use them while still being part of the same leafleting teams.
You can pretty much guarantee it will be the BNP who grab the headlines after Saturday, given the increasing softness of the local paper, The Sentinel, toward them. But the simple fact is there will be many, many more in Stoke on the day showing their opposition to the BNP's racist lies. Why not come and join us?