Saturday, 3 October 2009

New Anti-BNP Leaflet Hits the Streets

Members of North Staffs Against Racism and Fascism (NorSCARF) were out last weekend leafleting around Abbey Green ward in Stoke-on-Trent. For readers unfamiliar with the political topography of The Potteries, Abbey Green is one of two wards in the city (the other is Bentilee) where all three of its council seats are occupied by the BNP. NorSCARF has targeted the Abbey in this instance because two of the BNP's leading members sit as councillors here. As the Richard and Judy of the far right (or should that be Joseph and Magda?), Alby (pictured) and Ellie Walker are the friendly aryan faces of the fluffy, community-minded BNP (see here). And it just so happens at next year's council elections Alby is up for re-election. If the good people of the Abbey turf him out it would constitute a very heavy body blow to the BNP indeed.

Here is the text of the latest NorSCARF leaflet, with some comments on the end.
Abbey Green Matters - A NorSCARF Bulletin
BNP Oppose New Children's Centre

THREE BNP COUNCILLORS are opposing a new Sure Start Children's Centre at Hillside primary school and in the process are whipping up fears and misinformation.

The Sure Start centre will provide childcare, support for mothers and a baby clinic, and will join a growing list of successful Sure Start centres in the city.

The BNP is opposing the Children's Centre because they claim that mothers will be given drugs support. There are no plans for any drugs support at this centre or at any of the others around the city. But even if there were, surely helping people to come off drugs is sensible?

Not for the BNP. They would prefer to punish all local young mothers for reasons of political dogma.

The BNP have previously proposed cutting funding for the Citizens; Advice Bureau in case it benefits immigrants. They have also opposed new schools and even a new health centre.

It's about time we got rid of the BNP and got ourselves some councillors who will actually help local people.
Curfews, Long Skirts and Matrons: The BNP Policy for Women

SINGLE YOUNG MOTHERS should be refused any benefit and placed in homes run by matrons. That's the shocking motion to be discussed at the forthcoming BNP conference. It calls for these mothers to have "a curfew of approx 9pm, a dress code which states skirts must come to at least the knees and no cleavage to be on show. Failure to comply with the homes' rules will result in the mother being sent to prison, and the baby being taken into care".

This is just the latest BNP attack on women.

Last year a leading BNP organiser dismissed rape as "simply sex". "Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal", he wrote. "To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting that force feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence. A woman would be more inconvenienced by having her handbag snatched".

The BNP do not believe that women should have an equal right to work. A leading BNP officer recently told the BBC that the answer to the recession was for women to give up work.

It is no surprise then that so many women reject the divisive and aggressive politics of the BNP.

To start off with this leaflet is much better than the standard "don't vote for nasty Nazis" fare pushed by
Unite Against Fascism and Britain's largest revolutionary socialist party. Years of churning out propaganda concentrating on Holocaust denial and the like has done little to resist the rising tide of BNP support, nor has it inspired enough voters in other parties to turn out. The approach here, combining a pertinent local issue and a (proposed) national policy exposes the BNP more effectively than UAF's moralistic appeals to people's better nature. It's no accident NorSCARF's new *political* approach owes more to its relationship with Searchlight than the SWP's anti-fascist front group. And I wouldn't be surprised if it goes down well in the Abbey. When I was last out canvassing round the ward there were a fair few young mums prepared to give the BNP a punt.

There are a few minor criticisms that can be made - bearing in mind NorSCARF is a broad anti-fascist organisation and not a simon pure socialist outfit. Firstly, it was perhaps unfortunate this leaflet went out shortly before Gordon Brown himself announced plans for (compulsory?) state supervision of 16-17 year old mums. Second, attacking the BNP for opposing new schools overlooks the fact a good chunk of the city are too - for the right reasons. The new schools in question are going to be the government's flagship
academy scheme. If the BNP see a bandwagon, they'll try their damnedest to jump on it. Lastly, the leaflet calls on voted to elect "councillors who will actually help local people". As Labour are best poised to win back Abbey Green, it's unfortunate their likely candidate is of the lowest calibre possible. See this, for example.

But in all NorSCARF are on the right track.


asquith said...

I remember the CAB "plans"- spectaculraly ill though out shite as they were. Did they plan to fire all the immigrants who work there & help BNP voters every day, or did they not manage to get that far?

Coleman probably pissed off half the city, including the majority of his voters (!), with his comments about deadbeat parents. Maybe draw attention to that, especially somewhere like Meir (yes, yes, but it's true isn't it?)


Went to Roberto's for a family occasion- didn't particularly want to be there- may have had a bit much drink :)

Phil BC said...

Intellectual titans the BNP are not. And their plans to go after the CAB has always struck me as one of their most moronic local policies - even from their own point of view.

D said...

cheap, nasty opportunism. Avoids talking about the threat of fascism at all costs. If the threat from the bnp is that they will mismanage the local council then who gives a fuck - remember they're up against 3 parties everyone knows are up to their necks in corruption and gearing up for a massive attack on public services, so based on the arguments but forward by popular fronters in like these there's no reason not to count them as a legit protest vote.
Whereas if you were to mention the bnp's well-fucking-documented project to build a nazi movement and create an all-white britain... In fact never mind the n-word and the f-word for a second - unless i'm not mistaken there's not even a single lousy reference to racism.
I mean the stuff on sexism isn't bad (and btw does make it into uaf publicity too) but the obvious squeamishness about confronting racism really sticks in the throat tonight, as i learn about the attacks in chorlton.
By making the debate about local government issues and conspicuously avoiding the issue of fascism, you thereby normalise it.
I mean i understand why hop not hat takes this position, but doesn't the sp still count itself as nominally revolutionary? What's the thinking - given up on ppl not being racist and just hoping they won't join up the dots?
Like i said, it's cheap shitty opportunism and if you ever come face to face with the victims of fascist violence i dunno how you'll be able to look them in the eye

Phil BC said...

Dave, please tell us (preferably without the profanities - this is a family blog) where the SWP's approach of pinning the Nazi tail onto the fascist donkey has got the anti-fascist movement? Could you tell the readers of this blog how, despite 9 years of saturating targeted areas of Stoke with 'don't vote Nazi' leaflets, we have a situation where the BNP holds nine councillors?

Adam said...

phil, i can't tell you how hopeful i was that your post would entice gary elsby out from his fort made of shit leaflets!

come on gazza, you know how to stick it to the nazi scum, right?

D said...

what a ridiculous thing to say, as if the rise of the bnp over the last half decade could have been stopped if only uaf publicity had strenuously avoided any reference to racism or fascism. Now can you tell me how you are building an "antifascist movement" with publicity that pretends fascism isn't even an issue.
When they came for the jews i did not speak out because i wasn't a jew, but when they came for the council's unpopular academies project i knew it was time to start with the "no pasaran".
You yourself acknowledge the futility of rallying around the mainstream parties when their policies and local representatives are rightly unpopular, so why do it?
Why narrow the antifascist movement with popular frontism?

WHY NOT CONFRONT RACISM AND FASCISM instead of pretending they don't matter? And as for the profanity... 20 muslim graves have just been desecrated in chorlton, presumably by neonazis, and you, a supposed socialist, pour scorn on those who make an issue out of fascism... I reserve the right to swear!

Phil BC said...

Dave, I never realised how clueless you were. This is a shame because your blog used to be thoughtful once upon a time. I shouldn't be surprised to see extended exposure to the SWP has eroded your capacity to think critically about socialist activism.

Try and think through the situation for a moment (I know it might be hard). In Stoke the BNP have been on the rise for a long time. Overwhelmingly the tens of thousands of anti-fascist leaflets put out - be they UAF or Searchlight sourced - have been of this character. Please note they are just as guilty "of rallying around the mainstream parties when their policies and local representatives are rightly unpopular". Indeed UAF continues to do this to this day - perhaps you ought take this up with your branch why the SWP continues to do this. But I digress.

Now, this is the tricky bit, despite pointing out time and again the fascist and racist roots of the BNP their support continues to grow and turn out in elections remains depressed. What to do?

Sensible anti-fascists who live in the real world have concluded it might be worthwhile trying to take a different tack. Instead of attacking the BNP on their general programme, given their moronic local strategy NorSCARF has rightly decided it might be worthwhile demonstrating how the BNP works against the interests of their core support. In other words, it's countering the BNP's politics with some political arguments of their own. This doesn't preclude attacking the BNP for their racism - but there's only so much you can fit on a leaflet.

This is not "opportunist" - it is the precondition of effective anti-fascism. But as we know you're not interested in that. For the SWP anti-fascism is about posing as a ra-ra-revolutionary and "doing something" about the BNP, even if that something is discredited and has a poor track record. But as long as the activists stay active, eh?

Phil BC said...

Also one bit I didn't include on the leaflet's text is the about NorSCARF blurb as I didn't think it was necessary. Here it is:

" We are a broad based group set up to defend communities against racism and fascism.

We are supported by faith and community groups across North Staffordshire who are determined not to let racism divide our neighbourhoods. If you share our aims get involved".

asquith said...

Doesn't Elsby live in the same ward as Albert Walker? My mum lives in Baddeley Green, so she is "represented" by the BNP. (not a situation she is happy with).

I haven't seen any of his posts lately. I haven't heard anything from him, online or otherwise, since he put a leaflet through my mum's letterbox last year.

Phil BC said...

My spies tell me he's planning to engage in an orgy of leafleting very shortly. You'd better warn your mum.

He can still be found talking crap on Pits 'n' Pots.

Chris said...

I think you need to confront the fascists on all levels, in the political arena we should expose their fascist and racist policies because I often hear people say that when the BNP appear on TV they don't look so extreme. The problem is we are not exposing the BNP for what they are.

However, I agree that we should provide critiques of their 'general programme' if such a thing really exists. They seem pretty opportunistic to me, spreading hate and lies whereever they can.

When it comes to BNP street groups such as the EDL, then the anti fascists have it spot on and should be praised for their actions.

Having said all this, we should not overplay the BNP, their share of the vote will again be way below the attention they get.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Phil for your support. NorSCARF are planning future campaigning events in Stoke on Trent. We would encourage you all to support us in fighting the BNP.

Arthur Bough said...

I think that organisations such as NORSCARF in its present form are okay for general mobilisations where its just a matter of getting as many numbers out to confront the fascists as possible. However, I don't think that they are any use whatsoever when it comes to confronting the fascists ideologically and politically, precisely because as cross-class organisations they are unable to present a coherent alternative.

Indeed, because such organisations always tend to become subordinated to the need to keep the bouregois elements sweet, not to frighten off the vicars and bishops and so on, where they do present any kind of alternative view it is always at best reformist, at worst simply bourgeois moralising. The Left should refrain from any vain attempts at trying to use such organisations to provide alternatives, and focus its attention on creating a United Front of Labour Movement organisations committed to some minimum socialist platform - March separately strike together.

That was brought home to me clearly earlier this year in a debate I had online with some NORSARF members who were putting forward not only Nationalistic sentiments, but even defending the role of Britsih Colonialism! That in itself you would have thought would have been reason for an organisation whose purpose is to combat Nationalistic and Racist ideas to conduct a thorough debate of those issues. But, in fact, it simply prompted concern that such a debate was occurring, because it exposed divisions!!!!

Okay NORSCARF does have an online debating forum, but it is subscribed to by just 12 people! If a political organisation cannot engage in lively political debate of this kind then it is dead. I think actually Phil, that given the widespread readership of your blog you would be in a good position to set up a blog just for local Labour Movement people to discuss anti-fascist work, and to formulate an adequate political platform for confronting the fascists. That would make a good start.

skidmarx said...

For the SWP anti-fascism is about posing as a ra-ra-revolutionary and "doing something" about the BNP
Surely not. Isn't it a more likely explanation of their behaviour that they think they have the right strategy, and the rise of the BNP in Stoke has more to do with [those notorious] objective factors than the failings of the SWP? Is you explanation of the post-79 decline of the NF that it is down to incorporation by Thatcher,because to admit that that the ANL was key would be to concede that the SWP sometimes has the right strategy?Perhaps your differences could be expressed in a more comradely way.