21 June 2008

The Great Rock and Roll Swindle

The following article is taken from the No Platform blog.

While Norfolk Unity does not agree with every sentiment expressed, broadly speaking we concur. Although a small number of NU supporters have gone down to London to support the UAF/LMHR march, as a group we felt that the event was badly timed, ill-thought out, and lacked any clear focus beyond the negative "Stop" message.

Our belief is that defeating the BNP can only be achieved where it matters - one-to-one on the door-step. It's time-consuming, labour intensive and unglamorous, but it's an approach that works.

We proved this to our own satisfaction in the 2007 local elections when - late in the day - it became alarmingly clear that the BNP was on course to win one, and maybe two seats in King's Lynn, having encountered little or no opposition. We could have stood in Lynn town centre shouting slogans and perhaps made the pages of the local weekly newspaper. If we had, the Norfolk would almost certainly have added to the roll of BNP councillors.

As it was, we targeted North Lynn ward for an intensive door-step canvass over two days. There were only three of us then, driving over from Yarmouth with a small stock of hastily printed leaflets, but we did just enough - and I do mean just enough - to convince would-be BNP voters to change their minds. Nevertheless, the BNP came within spitting distance of winning the ward.

There are issues in Lynn and all over Norfolk of general disquiet at the scale of migrant labour coming into the county, and of its impact on jobs, wages, housing and local services. These are legitimate concerns which a dozen "Stop the BNP" marches will do nothing to address.

Reminding our visitors, then, that we do not agree with every sentiment expressed, here's the article from the No Platform blog:

* * *

What's all this then? Not wanting to go on another Stop The War/Ban The Bomb/Stop The Nazis march?

Well, no. As much as protest is a valid and valuable way of stopping the BNP it is not and must not be the only way. In fact, it cannot be, because it just does not work on its own.

The BNP will only be beaten by actually challenging their message with ours, and sadly with a large dollop of pragmatism.

The BNP is a party building itself up on the backs of the disenfranchised white working class. There is no point denying it.

Rock concerts to teenagers too young to vote-indeed as was the case at Victoria Park-not even told to vote -(the gig was held after the closing date to register even)is a postive way of building a progressive movement for the future. It was however, no substitute for the genuine hard work actually being done where the BNP was both strong, and where there was a large BME vote waiting to be galvanised.

But, sadly, in the case of the current UAF/LMHR swindle on the antiracist movement in case you have not realised it folks, the horse has somewhat already bolted. What is the point of marching in protest to city hall when there will not even be anyone in??

Searchlight's Nick Lowles has already dealt with the dissapointment of the BNP's election breakthrough here and here It's quite sobering reading. We might not all agree on his entire analysis' but it's probably more than just hitting the proverbial nail on the head: He's given it brain damage here and HERE

Still however, the UAF insist that marching alongside floats on a Saturday afternoon to an empty building to make an empty gesture will defeat the BNP.

And yes although marches are nice, good fun etc, etc you have to wonder why when there are two council elections being held in outer East London where the BNP has very good chances of winning, the UAF are having a march instead through the centre of London to protest against one already elected BNP official.

Why are the UAF not going to actually join trade unionists and anti-fascists in actually doing some hard graft and trying to actually stop the BNP in the areas where they are standing, some 7 or so miles from where the UAF are having their march?

This is not the first time the UAF have been called into question. GMB steward Sam Tarry has attacked the UAF twice in the past month for their lack of campaigning during the elections.

In a recent interview on the Islam Channel Tarry told the viewers that the £400,000 spent by LMHR and UAF to hold their undersubscribed activity at Victoria Park, could have actually have been spent on employing eight full time anti-BNP organisers instead.

Further, in an article in Labour Briefing, Tarry claimed that the UAF had not put out any literature during the election campaign other than materials advertising their concert. Again, a concert where nobody was told to vote, and where the large majority were possibly not even registered.

This lack of voter registration is an enormous worry, something with planning and of course common sense, that the UAF could have addressed but did not.

In the latest edition of Socialist Worker, UAF joint secretary Weyman Benette goes some way in explaining why the UAF cannot and do not engage with voters who may well be voting BNP.

Weyman says:

United we will smash the Nazi BNP

Who will, and how? Well suggests Weyman, the SWP of course. "The BNP trades on whipping up fear and creating scapegoats out of immigrants and ethnic minorities".

He certainly agrees with Mr Lowles on that, then. Then he goes on "It’s important to tackle these lies. But there are deeper reasons for why the BNP is attracting so many votes. One is the fact that the mainstream parties have significantly less local involvement and engagement than they once had".

I agree. So how are the lies being told in Barking and Dagenham and in the two elections currently being held actually being addressed by a march in central London? He doesn't answer. But he does continue..."The BNP has exploited this political vacuum to present itself as some kind of political alternative. We need to expose their claims on this front too." Erm, could you be a bit more clearer Weyman, it reads to me like you're not really confident that you can engage on these issues yourself. So come on, HOW WILL YOU DO THIS EXACTLY?

"..we need to mobilise this anti-fascist majority. That means getting ordinary people out in their thousands – like at the Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) carnival back in April, or on this Saturday’s demonstration"


He gets even better...."We have to challenge the Nazis where they are trying to build a base." This he can obviously do from a march in central London and not in the constituencies where the BNP is actually standing!!

He goes on to even claim the "BNP want another Nazi Holocaust." Is he totally mad? Has he ever knocked on the doors of Mr and Mrs Smith who are voting for the BNP. Try telling them that, when all they want is whichever ridiculous pot of gold the BNP has made quite accessible to them by simply putting out leaflets.

Running around shouting "Nazi" and "Fascist" is becoming a little bit long in the tooth. Rather like this great drain on the resources of the many genuine and decent people inside and out of the UAF, wanting to genuinally fight the BNP.


Just another Great Rock and Roll swindle.


Anonymous said...

Seems that only you and a few others know exactly the strategy on how to defeat the BNP.

Your views are based on sound thinking and hard work on the streets, not intellectualism.

Thanks for exposing some of the bad thinking present in anti-fascism Norfolk Unity.

Anonymous said...

this poster and others like nick lowles and sam tarry who have made similar attacks on UAF and LMHR conveniently ignore the extensive local campaigning done and inspired by those organisations. The Weyman Bennett article quoted is clear on this and UAF & LMHR - as a quick google or look at their sites would reveal - have serious ongoing local campaigns in all the places the BNP have councillors and more, especially Stoke, south Yorkshire and the East Midlands. That the April carnival was a waste of money is a ridiculously shortsighted attitude; every major national newspaper, music publication and website etc covered it - prompting extra probably thousands of people to turn out to vote; it got an hour-long programme with a clear anti-BNP message on national television (Channel 4; lots of the 60 or 70 local campaigns who sent coaches report the event generating new activists, and the unions involve report lots of young workers joining them on the back of their modern and visible forms of campaigning. Simply, the Carnival put the anti-fascist movement on the map like no other single initiative did this year. Which is why its major union sponsors like Unite and PCS appear to be extending their support to LMHR & UAF in the run-up to the 2009 elections. To be pretend otherwise can only be the result of sectarian blinkers or old-fashioned attitudes. The movement to stop the BNP needs to be grassroots, localised abd sustained AS WELL AS national, creative and bang up-to-date. Above all it must be united, a point which seems too often lost on those making scurrilous criticisms of genuine and successful anti-fascist initiatives.

ex-Trot said...

The one hour long show went out after the election (some two weeks) and at two in the morning.

Lowles is right.