Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP campaign was set up about a year ago, after the election of a BNP councillor (subsequently expelled from the BNP) onto Broxtowe Borough Council in May 2007.
Ben Robinson, International Socialist Resistance – England and Wales
Activists from the campaign and supporters in the Derbyshire area have built a strong united local campaign against the racist British National Party’s activities in their area. Nottinghamshire Stop the BNP (NStBNP) has already had some successes, including a 150-strong protest in Kimberley, Nottinghamshire last October which effectively stopped a BNP public meeting with their chairman, Nick Griffin, from going ahead.
When the BNP launched plans to host their ‘Red, White and Blue’ summer music festival in a rural part of Derbyshire, NStBNP pledged to mobilise against it. The campaign organised a successful conference with regional trade union backing and participation, and over 100 in attendance last January. This conference initiated a campaign against the festival and has already had national media coverage.
This campaign has operated on a democratic, broad basis, with members of the Socialist Party, other socialists, anarchists, trade unionists from a range of political opinion and others from the area involved. It has roots in the local area, and is open to anyone who agrees with the campaign’s aims. Actions initiated by this campaign have already led to set-backs for the BNP’s festival.
The BNP’s application to sell alcohol and play live music was withdrawn after the police altered their position at the licensing panel and made it clear they would oppose the application unless the BNP agreed to extremely strict security measures, which the BNP could not keep to. The police said that it was intelligence of the opposition that made them change their minds.
Despite this change of mind, the police corralled protesters outside the licensing panel and took photographs of the campaigners and allowed the BNP to also do so. As the camp is on private land, the lack of a licence cannot stop it going ahead. However, it is a blow to the BNP leadership’s attempts to give credibility to this festival of hate which they advertise as a family event in an attempt to hide their far-right, violent origins.
NStBNP has called a mass protest against the festival at 9am on Saturday 16 August, and a rally at 12.30pm in Codnor, a nearby village. These details were publicised by NStBNP on the recent Love Music Hate Racism demonstration against the BNP in London, and more widely especially in the East Midlands area.
United action needed
Unfortunately, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the main political force behind it, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), have been largely absent from this campaign. This is despite numerous requests for meetings from the local campaign and the campaign leafleting the UAF national conference last March so they were aware of what was happening.
Some weeks after the details of the protest were announced, UAF members have begun distributing leaflets advertising a rally at 11am without any discussion with the local campaign. UAF have even added NStBNP as one of the organisations calling the rally without consultation! UAF’s unilateral call for a rally at a different time has, understandably, raised fears that they are attempting to split the anti-BNP movement.
Any attempts to organise a rally separate from the NStBNP rally will weaken the strength of opposition to the BNP’s festival. It would also show a complete disregard to the democratic lines along which the local campaign has been built, within which UAF have so far declined to participate. That would be counter to the idea of building a united mass campaign against the BNP, of involving new activists in campaigning and discussing tactics and slogans, of involving as many as possible to develop the best slogans and ideas capable of defeating the BNP.
Despite the obstructions created by the UAF’s approach, the campaign is determined to make the protest a massive success and many people are involved in a range of work to build the protest. Last weekend, the campaign took leaflets to the Durham Miners’ Gala as it wants an attendance from all over Britain.