Youth Against Racism in Europe

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No More Racist Murders: YRE demonstration against BNP HQ
   

 

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Neo-Nazi BNP win 13 council seats

(joint statement from YRE and ISR)

The neo-Nazi British National Party won 13 council seats in the local elections on the first of May.

They now have 16 elected local councilors, including 8 in Burnley, where the BNP's group is now the official opposition to Labour with one more seat than the Liberal Democrats.

Elsewhere the BNP won 2 seats in Sandwell, one in Dudley, one in Stoke-on-Trent, one in Broxbourne and another seat in Calderdale.

This does represent a certain political breakthrough for the BNP, who have been struggling to hide their neo-Nazi ideas in order to gain votes and new members, although they are still far from becoming an important national force.

Dangerous

Many of the seats were won with very small majorities, and they failed to make the breakthrough they were hoping for in areas like Sunderland (where they stood 22 candidates but none were elected).

The election of further BNP candidates is dangerous, encouraging increasing divisions, racial tensions and prejudice in local communities where the BNP have an influence.

The leaders and the key activists of the BNP are neo-Nazis, people who believe that whites are superior to all other races and whose ultimate aim is a Nazi dictatorship, like Hitler in Germany or Mussolini and Italy, that can smash all working-class organisations and democratic rights.

Divide

They use racism and all other common forms of prejudice, to divide working-class people and help big business and capitalism to continue to exploit us all.

The BNP leadership have been trying for years to build a far right party which can attract support beyond a few scattered individuals. Time and time again they have failed, defeated by mass movements against racism and fascism.

But, faced with a new political situation where millions are alienated from the mainstream political parties and looking for a way to punish the establishment, the BNP have attempted to 'rebrand' themselves and lose the neo-Nazi image that held them back before.

The issue of asylum undoubtedly helped the BNP, particularly the way that many mainstream newspapers and politicians have linked it to the terrible level of local services (produced by years of cuts and privatisation). BNP members have made no secret about how pleased they are that their anti asylum seeker views are being 'legitimised' in this way by the media and mainstream political parties.

In some areas, particularly relatively better off areas with a mainly white population, racism was also a big factor in the votes that the BNP were able to attract. However, most BNP voters are by no means convinced neo-Nazis, or even support all of the BNP's public (very watered-down) policy statements.

Just fed up

Esther Addley, writing about the BNP's campaign in the Guardian on 30th April, commented:

'spend a few days in Dudley, and it becomes plain that the people in this borough at least aren't sudden racist converts, they are just fed up.

Their houses haven't been fixed quickly enough and the roads don't get swept often enough and the youth centre on Meadow Road is always shut and the estate office on Priory Road has been closed down so all the old people have to walk an extra 500 metres up the hill to pay their rent - and above all, Wren's Nest estate got lots of money from a European fund to do it up, and Priory estate didn't, and the people on the Priory aren't too happy about it.'

The vast majority of the population who are eligible to vote donít vote in local elections, not seeing any point in voting for careerist politicians who promise the world and then do exactly the same as the party that were in before.

Punish the establishment

A large proportion of the BNP's new vote comes from people who don't agree with the BNP on many issues that want to punish the establishment and the careerist politicians who represent it.

Sadly any progress for the BNP, with their policies of divisions and hatred, will make it harder for local communities to unite in campaigns to improve services and put an end to the neglect that they have suffered for years.

The establishment is uncomfortable at the growth of the BNP and terrified that a new anti racist movement could develop in response. The news has been full of New Labour and other mainstream politicians arguing for people to vote for any of the three main parties, whether you agreed with the or not, just in order to keep the BNP out. But it is their unpopular policies that opened the door to the BNP.

Genuine left alternative

To halt the growth of the BNP we need to build an anti racist movement and a genuine left alternative to the mainstream political parties and the far right.

Such an alternative must take up the bread-and-butter issues of jobs, housing, low pay and privatisation, opposing the pro-big business policies of New Labour and the BNP with working-class unity and the power of the trade union movement.

The potential for such a movement is shown by the excellent results received by many left and socialist candidates in the recent elections, though these have received nothing like the publicity from the media that the BNP enjoy. Karen Mackay, one of the Socialist Party's three councillors in Coventry was re-elected on first May, more than doubling her majority.

The Scottish Socialist Party have won at least five seats in the Scottish Parliament (counting is still going on), where they previously held one. In Strathkelvin and Beardsden Jean Turner, a former GP and anaesthetist stood as an independent in protest at the closure of the local hospital and won a seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Leaflets and other campaigning material against the BNP will be ready next week. For more information about what's going on in your area, or how you can help with the campaign against the far right, please get in touch.

Naomi Byron, secretary of Youth against Racism in Europe

Clare James, national organiser of International Socialist Resistance