Friday 19 February 2010

National Front to Stand in Stoke Central

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 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 full report can be read at the link above.

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.


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Good news, in a bad way, maybe a vote splitter but makes Stoke look like it is a hotbed for racism in the UK and far-right goons are scrabbling over the Nazi vote in the town.

Jonkarra said...

As someone born in Stoke and have lived in Newcastle for most of my life I find it rather depressing that the far right are making such headway in the area I still call home!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! The motives of the NF are pretty transparent here.

Phil said...

It is shameful that the BNP have dragged Stoke's reputation through the gutter. If by some miracle Simon Darby became my MP it would be a disaster for the city. You can forget about regeneration and people thinking about moving here.

Labour locally and nationally are ultimately responsible for this state of affairs. But it's Labour who are the only ones in a position to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I think about the idea that Simon Derby could get elected in Stoke Central my mind automatically goes to the hundreds of people I get through my office hoping to settle in Britain for a better life with their families.

If the BNP did get in it would damage Stokes reputation beyond repair and scupper all hope we might have of serious regeneration. Who is going to invest in the City of Racists? Who is going want to come to Staffordshire University with the threat of right-wing violence hanging over the city?

brother_f said...

I lolled when I heard about this!

I can't help thinking about this song when I hear about the NF

Phil said...

I know one thing Bro F. With campaigners for the BNP and NF in town there's going to be a spike in Fanta sales ...

brother_f said...

those nazis loooove their orange soda!

EFComrade said...

I fail to see how this is a good thing. Sure the NF will take some BNP votes but it will probably result is an overall boost in votes for the far-right, it will also be a weapon for the BNP who can now say "no we are not fascists the NF are and they are standing against us that is why it is important to maximize our vote"

But let's take a step back from the adventures of electoralism for a second and look at the bigger picture. The NF are much more open about thier politics than the BNP and now have the confidence to stand candidates of thier own, probably on the back of the mobilisation ofthe EDL to stoke, surely this will only increase racial tension and racially motivated voilence in the city.

finally this statement of your seems to be contradictory Phil

"Labour locally and nationally are ultimately responsible for this state of affairs. But it's Labour who are the only ones in a position to do something about it."

but that is part of a debate we are alreay having on another thread

Phil said...

I don't think it is at all, Glyn. The crisis of Labourism is, among other things, a result of it having abandoned social democratic politics. To see the BNP and the far right off requires returning to policies that reflect the aspirations and interests of working class people. As our MP is standing on such a social democratic platform and there's a very good chance Labour could have a leader with not dissimilar politics should the Tories win the next general election, a Labour vote - in the long run - is the best bet for forcing the BNP into irreversible decline.

Phil said...

This might be of interest to comrades too:

Asian businessman applies to join Stoke BNP