Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stop the Fascist BNP - Barnet UNISON

Fighting against an unpredictable swirling wind, me and Branch Secretary John Burgess somehow managed to carry the massive Barnet UNISON banner all the way from Tower Bridge to Trafalgar Square on Saturday. We were on a national march and parade against fascism and racism organised by the groups ‘Unite Against Fascism’ and ‘Love Music Hate Racism.’ The prime focus of the march was to raise protest against the British National Party and their recent relative success in gaining a seat in the Greater London Assembly, polling a worrying 5.33% of the overall London vote last May. We estimate that between 10-15,000 people took part in the march, and the array of banners from different unions across the country shows not only that there is a real shared concern over the rise of the BNP, but also brings hope that there is the strength in numbers and will power to stop them. There was even a banner all the way from Glasgow UNISON branch! Spurred on by music and chants from various rap artists and drum bands, the march itself had a positive atmosphere, with people from all ages and races joining in as the march gathered pace.

So why does Barnet UNISON feel it necessary to represent their opposition to the BNP?

The most common accusation levelled against the BNP is that their support base consists largely of violent racists. The sort of people you would not want to meet walking the streets at night, especially if you are not white! Stories were told to us at the climax of the march of a girl who had set up an anti-racist group in her university. She was followed home and harassed one night by two white men identifying themselves as BNP supporters. Nick Griffen, leader of the BNP, is facing charges of incitement of religious hatred. UNISON opposes racism, sexism and homophobia, and strives for equality of treatment in the workplace and in society. The BNP argues that an anti-immigration policy does not make them racist, but looking at certain sections of their support base it is evident that there is a dark racist undertone to their existence.

The corner-stone of the BNP’s ideology is routed in a belief that society’s problems come from differences in race and culture, and that we are already seeing the beginning of what Enoch Powell famously pronounced in 1968 as ‘rivers of blood.’ Nick Griffen predicts that in the next three years, as the economy takes a downturn, we will see ‘peace walls’ constructed between ethnic communities within towns, as the point of frustration between whites and the non-whites reaches tipping point. UNISON opposes this ideology in its entirety. The success and diversity shown at Saturdays march only goes to show that London is a tolerant multi-cultural city, that is all the better for it both socially and economically. Instead the route of society’s problems comes from a lack of true equality of opportunity. Poverty and a growing sense of inequality in a more neo-liberal profit driven society leads people to crime and increases job insecurity. This is why Barnet UNISON is fighting for public sector service, and is vehemently opposed to the BNP’s racial arguments.

Under the BNP Britain would be a fascist based society. The party proposes to halt immigration full stop, and then send all those who are not in their terms ‘indigenous’ to Britain back to their ethnic countries. Such a policy is comparable to the likes of Hitler’s Nazi party and their extermination of the Jews, Poles and Socialists. Certain sections of the BNP publicly deny the holocaust’s existence, dreaming that it was a socialist conspiracy! Fascism requires seizing unqualified amounts of central power, and this would inevitably result in the destruction of trade unions as layer by layer of citizen protection is peeled back. This would be the only way the BNP could ever achieve its proclaimed goals. UNISON will fight for its survival and the right of workers to assemble into a trade union. Parties advocating fascist means are natural enemies of trade unions.

For the first time ever the BNP stood a candidate in Barnet in the May elections. They received around 120 votes. They have promised to stand again in the European Parliament elections next year. We must make sure that Barnet is kept clean from both the sort of racism that goes along with the BNP and the dangerous, divisive way of thinking in its policies and political means.

Ben Ritchie

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