It's not very often the prospects of a National Front candidacy warms the hearts of anti-fascists, but I couldn't help a wry smile when the news below was announced. This comes via The Sentinel:
THE extreme right-wing National Front is to contest a Parliamentary seat in Stoke-on-Trent.The full report can be read at the link above.
The party has set its sights on Labour MP Mark Fisher's Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency.
It will be the first time in more than 30 years that the whites-only organisation has fought a General Election in the city. The last time was in 1979 when it contested the Stoke-on-Trent North seat.
But this time the National Front (NF) faces direct competition from British National Party (BNP) deputy leader Simon Darby.
NF executive member Steve Reynolds confirmed that the party was contesting Stoke Central.
He said: "We have got a local man who will be standing for us, but we are not in a position to release his name just yet.
"Our main platform will be anti-Muslim and anti-immigration.
"We have always had a number of members in the Stoke-on-Trent area and we always get a lot of enquiries and feedback from there, so it's a natural choice for us.
"We are also getting a lot of disillusioned BNP members and supporters joining us, because they are not happy about the party's new membership rules."
But Mr Darby said he believed fighting a NF candidate will help his and the BNP's campaign.
He added: "We're always being accused of being the National Front in disguise, but now people will be able to see that we are two totally different parties with different policies."
The prospect of the far right vote getting split three ways certainly reduces the likelihood of Simon Darby overturning Labour's 9,774 vote majority (remember, former BNP council group leader Alby Walker is supposedly standing too). And contrary to received wisdom, going from previous experience the socialist challenge coming from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is as likely to eat into the BNP vote as Labour's. Considering the BNP were over 2,000 votes behind the Tories in 2005, these are votes they cannot afford to lose if they stand any chance of beating the Conservatives and the LibDems, let alone winning the seat.
The three way split doesn't mean anti-fascists can be complacent. The fact the NF - an organisation whose membership figures are on a par with the more marginal elements of the far left - feel it's worthwhile putting their slender resources into Stoke Central is indicative of how emboldened the far right is by the BNP's success in The Potteries. It is down to the anti-fascist movement to make sure the BNP, Alby Walker, and the NF take an electoral beating in the general and council elections (which seem very likely to be held on the same day) by turning out the support for the other parties.
But the main battles with the far right come after the election. If Labour win we have to make good the promises made to get Stoke regenerated and nationally pursue the kinds of policies Mark Fisher has put his name to. Otherwise the far right will continue to deform Potteries politics. If you provide new jobs and tackle the horrifying levels of deprivation seen across the city, the BNP and its ilk will wither on the vine.