Saturday, 20 September 2008

Stoke Rallies Against the BNP

The BNP may have been grabbing the headlines, but there was a far larger mobilisation of opposition to the fascists' presence in The Potteries, earlier today. While the BNP were able to get some 300 people to its "memorial" event they reportedly only managed to turn 80 activists out for the morning's leafleting. The 20 rendezvous points they pre-planned across the city were reduced to ten. So much for their empty boasts about 400-plus leafleters. Compare this with the numbers anti-fascists mustered after a half-arsed mobilisation. Originally Unite Against Fascism had planned to leave the organising up to its local affiliate, North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (NorSCARF) and not go for a national mobilisation. Then mid-week last there was a volte face and all of a sudden a decent anti-fascist turn out was a national priority.

Considering the lack of time compared with months of BNP planning, 200-250 at the billed anti-fascist vigil (which, thankfully, became a rally with some half decent speakers) was a very good turn out. Most people I spoke to on the Stoke Socialist Party stall were local, most not the usual suspects, and for many it was the first time they'd attended an event of this kind. Not only that, the majority at the rally were young, and by young I mean under 25. Contrast this with Youtube vids the BNP have plastered all over their website - you'd be hard pressed to find many under 40 in the footage. Proof positive that, ultimately, the future is on our side.

Following the speeches we lined up for an impromptu march to Hanley Forest Park where the Stoke Unity festival was taking place. For reasons known only to the police they were determined to prevent the march from going through the centre of Hanley (which is strange considering the BNP rally (appropriately) took place on a scrap of wasteland near Fenton) and blocked off the road. There was a bit of argy-bargy as some SWP activists tried to push through the line, but that was about it. The police successfully diverted us away from any concentration of "normal" people (funny they never had any problem with the 500 strong march for the Burslem 12 earlier in the year, nor the 2,500 on April 2006's demo against hospital cuts) and we got to the park without incident. In sum there must have been about a thousand at the carnival already.

I do have some gripes about the SWP/LMHR full timer who liked to think she was "in charge" of the event. She tried to prevent Stoke SP from erecting our banner on the grounds "it was agreed" no parties could not have their banners and signs out. Unsurprisingly she wasn't so vociferous in challenging her comrades who came with their SWP placards. But that brief whiff of hypocrisy aside, today showed the reservoir of anti-fascism is far wider than what the BNP can draw from. But between now and next June, when the mayoral (if they happen) and the European elections take place, it is the job of anti-fascists to turn that reservoir into a weapon that ensures the BNP sees no more electoral advances in Stoke-on-Trent.


Anonymous said...

Maybe so but I've noticed in my area Labour have asked me if I would help at the last local elections to put leaflets through doors and knock on doors, I use to do it for years, sadly they forgot I left Labour three years ago.

yet the BNP had a group of people knocking on doors and people I speak to who have been Labour for years, they are saying they cannot vote Labour and some say they rather vote BNP.

I think Labour are in for a thumping at the next election and I think many more people will turn to the BNP to smaller groups.

Labour made the break from the low paid, not the low paid from Labour.

Anonymous said...

As a relatively new member of the BNP I would say it was a big success. The only criticism I could make of the leafleting is that the number of streets our group was allocated was not sufficient to keep us busy for the full three hours. But since the organisers could not be sure of how many would turn up to each area I can understand the difficulty.

Overall we had a very positive reception and at the pub where we had a break for refreshments (non-alcoholic!) we got a couple of enquiry forms returned to us there and then. The landlord also took a pile of leaflets for his customers.

How many attended I wouldn't like to guess, but I know it was a very positive experience for all BNP members and supporters. Just the honking of car horns as they drove past our rally made it all seem worthwhile and added to the impression that our presence was really appreciated in the area.

I am sure that many members were uplifted by the amount of support for us in Stoke, especially those from more difficult areas.

Robert said...

Your answering me I think do not get me wrong I rather eat pig shit before joining the BNP, but the fact is at the last local elections the BNP did more and said more and had more idea's then Labour, who's only answer was do you want the Tories back.

When I questioned the BNP they had answers when I questioned the Labour party is all due to Thatcher major or somebody else it was never Labour.

Sadly I cannot stand racists so that rules me out of the BNP.

Anonymous said...

Although the BNP seems to have survived the split that seemed likely to tear it in two late last year it would appear from your post that the Trotskyites are still severely divided.

Glad that this get together managed to (largely) get past that, but just imagine what sort of a position you would be in if that was the default rather than a remarkable rarity. Why, you might even have as much success as the BNP have!

Phil said...

Robert, the BNP's "leftism" is a sham and always has been. They may talk the talk and come over as 1950s Labourites but what were the BNP and their ilk doing during the miners' strike, the poll tax rebellion, and myriad national and local disputes since? Sweet FA and blaming brown skinned people at best, and attacking mobilisations of this sort at worst.

This is nothing new of course. Fascists historically have turned their hands to populist use of leftist positions (national socialism anyone?) but they get a whiff of power and it evaporates. The BNP are no different. If they do win the mayoralty next year, policy-wise they will pursue exactly the same slash and burn policies New Labour are pursuing now, except perhaps with even more gusto.

Second anonymous, nice of you to drop by. If you joined the BNP because you think immigrants and political correctness is to blame for Stoke's woes, then there's little hope for you. But if you did because you think New Labour are ignoring the white working class, mark my words, the BNP offer us nothing but more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Well done Stoke comrades for organising the festival.
No Fun.
No Future.

Anonymous said...

I also attended the UAF rally to show my opposition to the BNP. Several speakers also pointed out the alliance that Independent councillors in Stoke-on-Trent now have with the BNP, and in fact a number of Independent councillors are pretty much closet BNP. Seems like the self declared fascists are not the only ones we have to worry about. Well done to the organisers.

Phil said...

You're quite right, Bob. I suppose one "advantage" (if you can call it that) is the presence of so many BNP on the council might flush these closet fash out.

Anonymous said...

I have found support (tacit of course) for the BNP in the unlikeliest of places, so good luck flushing out "closet fash", you may have a few on your hands.
Alternatively, keep telling the electorate how great mult cult is, you could convince some.