Campaigning against the far right in Codnor

Last weekend, the BNP held their annual so-called “Red White and Blue Festival”. I went as part of a coachload of protestors from Leicester to help make it clear that their racist policies are not welcome in Britain, wherever the BNP go.

Groups such as Notts Stop the BNP, Derby Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, and Amber Valley Against Racism and Fascism had worked hard to ensure the protest was successful. The UAF, like last year, threatened to split the march, putting some people at unneccessary risk. However, the event was in the end very united and we got within spitting distance of the “festival” itself.

The police wasted £500,000 patrolling the festival, with a helicopter and remote-controlled drone camera (which looked like one of those miniature helicopters you can get in the Gadget Shop, except that whoever was controlling it was obviously a professional, as it didn’t crash constantly). I hoipe the council tax payers of Derbyshire are angry at having to fork out for this and demand that the council refuse to allow the BNP’s festival to go ahead next year.

However, wherever the BNP campagn to spread their lies and hatred, it is important that we answer their policies and show that they do not represent the working people of Britain – their policies would only divide people, when we need to unite to fight to save our jobs, for decent council housing and for investment into our public services. The best chants were “Where were the BNP when Vestas Blades workers’ occupied their factory? NOWHERE!” and “Jobs and Homes not Racism – Stop the BNP”.

A moving contribution was made by a veteran anti-fascist campaigner, who was active in forcing Mosley’s blackshirts off the streets of East London during the Second World War. Around 1,500 people marched, sang and generally made our presence felt.

I chatted to one BNP supporter about how he had been let down by his trade union UNISON and how he had joined the BNP, because, as he saw it, foreigners were taking our jobs. We answered that it was the government who should take the blame for mass unemployment.

I couldn’t help feeling that with a decent fighting trade union leadership and a left wing party fighting for working-class policies for people of all backgrounds, he would not have been deluded by the false propaganda of the fascists, but could have been on the other side of the barricades. He seemed like a decent enough bloke, but the leadership of the BNP are Nazis, just as they were in the days of the National Front.

When the BNP claim to have changed their spots and be a democratic party, they are lying. As the fascists did in Nazi Germany, they would deport all foreigners and ruthlessly clamp down on any opposition. Wherever they rear their ugly head, we need to oppose their lies and build a new party to answer the far right politically.

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