Anti-bnp Activity in London

Anti-fascist activists were out on the streets of London today, leafleting in Redbridge in one of two wards where the BNP are standing in council by-elections.

The by-elections in Chadwell Heath (Barking & Dagenham) and South Hornchurch (Havering) will both take place on Thursday 3 July.

If the BNP win these seats they will be building serious momentum towards winning a parliamentary seat and control of Barking Council.

There are just over ten days left for anti-fascists to get involved in this campaign. please contact Searchlight for details. This is the key next task for anti-fascist activists.

102 comments on “Anti-bnp Activity in London

  1. XSWP on said:

    Well done to all those fighting against the fash today! Nice one those leafleting in Redbridge, and best wishes to all those on todays SWP organised march in central london.

    Estimates vary – Liam Mcuiad estimates 2000 people from his experience:
    http://liammacuaid.wordpress.com

    But even Socialist Worker only claims 10,000
    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=15247

    Lenin’s Tomb and Harpy Marx have photo’s
    http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/

    But it does not look 10,000

    This is sad – I wish it had been more of a success.

    I hope that nevertheless it becomes a springboard for proper and consistent united front work.

    I also think that while the SWP is right to mobilise against the BNP – I can’t help thinking that the CC called the march in this cackhanded and underprepared way. This was probably because it has twin motives – the right ones plus also a need to avoid any introspection or analysis of its failure in the Respect project by mobilising its members outwards in a fresh but unrelated offensive.

    Anyway, lets hope we can all unite and build a really dynamic and effective anti-fascist offensive. And lets remain critical of this problematic leadership.

  2. united against fascism on said:

    So you didn’t come on the Unite Against Fascism march, then? The entire rest of the left was there… why the sectarianism?

  3. will mcmahon on said:

    There is absolutely no way it was 5,000 never mind 10,000. 2,000 is about right. Have a look at the pictures on Liam’s blog. These were taken when the whole of the demonstration had arrived. We really are going to get nowhere without an honest assessment. I walked from the front to the back of the demo in a couple of minutes when it was stationary. When moving the whole demo took no more than a few minutes to go past. The description on Lenin’s Tomb is creative writing.

  4. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    XSWP

    A united and effective campaign that can mobilise very large numbers of people is certainly needed. This demonstration has, unfortunately, been a step back from that, on account of the way it was conceived, called and executed.

    There has to be an honest assessment of where things are in order to go forward. And there can be no more bouncing of people on pain of moralistic denunciation. It just doesn’t work.

    About 2,000 people for a national mobilisation such as this is appalling.

  5. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    United Against Fascism

    The entire rest of the left in Britain might not be what it once was in terms of numbers, but it is bigger than 2,000 people.

    Coming to terms with the fiasco of today is critical for those who badgered the rest of us abou this march if they are to learn anything of value from today.

  6. tonyc on said:

    Now can we have some honest discussion about where we are, instead of doing the whole “UNITE SENT 2 MILLION LEAFLETS OUT” stuff, when we all know – and knew – that Unite did no such thing?

    Respect had loads of people there today; we pass the SWP’s purity test. In terms of beating back the BNP, maybe all those people would’ve been better off going to Dagenham.

    Let’s not have any more nonsense about who leads the movement.

    All of us have opinions, none of us are in charge, most of us want to work together (those who go on blogs posting under multiple identities, and those who run blogs built on lies about “thousands” of marchers excepted) and everyone needs to have a really serious think about how to defeat the BNP.

    I was never in favour of this march – I would only have changed my mind if 20,000 people went on it, enough to show some serious strength (and remember, unlike SWP members on the tube who support the leadership, I did my best to actually build for it, despite not agreeing with the way it was called).

    That was never gonna happen and we need to understand why, despite the SWP claiming that millions of people had been told about the march, only a few hundred people (if that) outside of the organised left came.

    The SWP claims to have a membership of 5,800. Well, less than a third of its claimed membership came today. The organisation maybe needs to think about how it deals with its members.

    People like me never thought that membership number was true, so I don’t feel the need to deal with it – John G*m*, A*a* M*rk* and D*v* M*r*h will have to though.

    The rest of us can maybe start talking seriously about what went wrong today and what we do next.

    Socialist Worker didn’t even mention the Searchlight activity this weekend, so we know we can’t trust the SWP to discuss the issue honestly.

    As I said, the rest of us can maybe start talking seriously about what to do next. I seriously want to work with people who want to beat back the nazis and don’t feel the need to put building their own organisation ahead of that task.

    I’m proud of Respect, cos for all the mistakes we make and will make, when we fight the nazis, building our own organisation comes second.

  7. Mark P on said:

    200 on the other hand out leafletting in Redbridge and Hornchurch with materials funded by the trade unions who wasted their money on publicity for this futile ‘parade’ through the empty streets of London could have actually helped stop the BNP winning in two crucial council by-elections. Its a simple case of priorities, still there’s those socialist papers to sell and a demo makes the ideal pitch.

    Strange isn’t it that the LMHR and UAF websites don’t even mention the fact these by-elections are taking place. let alone mobilise people to help out with the campaign. Must have slipped their mind with all that effort to sell tickets to Marxism 2008 at the ‘parade’.

    If on the other hand you visit Searchlight’s campaign website http://www.hopenothate.org.uk
    You’ll find all the info you need on the by-elections and campaigning. Some people at any rate have their priorities right.

    Mark P

  8. tonyc on said:

    “So you didn’t come on the Unite Against Fascism march, then? The entire rest of the left was there… why the sectarianism?”

    Interesting that the lack of attendance on a march counts as “sectarianism” to you.

    You must know that it’s a lie to say “the entire rest of the left was there”. However, what’s clear is that you think that to not attend is sectarian. Do you honestly believe that?

    The people who leafleted in Dagenham against the BNP today – are you really claiming that they are sectarian? Are you really seriously using the name “united against fascism”?

  9. tonyc on said:

    There’s some serious campaigning against the BNP taking place tomorrow.

    Will it be considered “sectarian” if the “entire rest of the left” isn’t there?

    Personally, important as it is to demonstrate against the BNP, maybe more of an impact will be felt if people get to Dagenham tomorrow.

  10. optimistic Larry Nugent on said:

    we are now coming up to a year when John Rees and co started “political mobbing” the left and progressive movement and every unsavoury act that the SWP have been involved in since August 2007 has backfired on them.the only way they has dealt with it has been with expulsions and barring comrades of platforms,

    This latest SWP debacle of them trying to bounce the left and progressive movement into a small if not unsupported demo, surely must be roundly condemned.

  11. La La on said:

    Has no one but me wondered how leafleting in Redbridge can help defeat the BNP in by-elections in Barking & Dagenham and Havering?

  12. alexander poskrebyshev on said:

    #6 Two million leaflets mailed to every Unite member would have been a total spend of not less than £600,000 of Unite members money and that’s a conservative estimate. The idea that Derek Simpson would have authorised this kind of expenditure for the LMHR/UAF demo does not seem to me for one moment credible. Who on eearth suggested such a thing. Even if he did authorise it, I would have thought members would want to know if this was the wisest use of resources in combatting the BNP.

    As for the size of the demo, even SWP members put their most optimisitc estimates at 3,000 to 4,000. The photographs clearly show it was much smaller even than that. Socialist Worker has clearly lied by suggesting the demo was “up to 10,000”, another nail in its coffin as a paper that tells the truth to the class. But even if we grant 4,000, this is a very disappointing turnout given the SWP made this a central campaigning priority, even at the expense of the Bush demo last Sunday, for the last seven weeks.

    What we need now is more honest and serious debate on the left about the nature of the threat of the BNP and how best to combat it. SWP members claiming this demo was a success and Socialist Worker clearly lying about the numbers does not bode well for the SWP’s participation in that honest and serious debate.

  13. vashda narada on said:

    #11 Has no one but me wondered how leafleting in Redbridge can help defeat the BNP in by-elections in Barking & Dagenham and Havering? Comment by La La — 21 June, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

    Chadwell Heath ward is in the Barking and Dagenham council area but borders Redbridge, which also has a ward called Chadwell. Chadwell Heath rail station is in Chadwell ward Redbridge, so people go to Redbridge to leaflet for the by-election for Barking & Dagenham council.

  14. 2,000! Are you kidding! The only one who needs to take a step back is you Kevin. It was a lively and well attended demo and even if there had been 20,000 on the demo you would have rubbished it. You poured scorn on the LMHR carnival that was attended by over 60,000 people and even tried to split it by organising a rally for Livingstone right next to it. So don’t try to pose your sectarianism as some so-called, “honest assessment.”

    I saw virtually no one from Renewal and that’s because they’re insignificant when it comes to mobalising any one on the ground which was evident at the anti-Bush demo as well. No wonder you rely on the profile of Galloway and Salma to over exaggerate Renewals relevance to the left.

    The dishonest counterposition of the Dagenham leafleting to the LMHR demo in order to split the left won’t win Renewal any friends. Nor will counterposing the Islampophobic and homophobic tactics of Searchlight to the strategy of others on the left.

    If you’re serious about mobilising very large numbers of people as you claim then supporting the initiatives of others on the left instead of mounting a sustained campaign of scorn would be a good place to start.

  15. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Ray

    Look, the game’s up. This was a pitiful performance today. Don’t ask me – ask serious people who were there.

    This was a turn dicatated not primarily by the needs of the working class or the movement but by the party management strategy of the SWP leadership. There was a coincindence of interest, as there always is, but the driving force was not the construction of a serious response to the BNP’s recent and latest advances.

    What’s resulted is shambolic. And it redounds terribly on the whole of the left, thanks to the SWP leadership proclaiming their initiative as being coterminous with the anti-fascist response.

    Nothing good will come of this way of working, Ray. In the wake of a far less serious setback in the ANL mobilisation following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the SWP leadership pushed for a unity march in Welling.

    Making the appropriate adjustments, something similar really ought to happen now. But it won’t. One – very minor – reason why, is that there are enough people like you around cheering on every bout of idiocy from your party leaders.

    What’s called for is a serious political discussion. But please don’t imagine that will sidestep holding your leaders to account.

  16. Kevin, I realise you’re still embittered towards the SWP but don’t let that lead you to resort to hyperbole.

    You claim that Welling was built on a willingness for unity but the difference now is that the left is much smaller and the TU bureaucracy is wedded to Brown. Your top down approach of waiting for people like Cruddas and Prentis to support a demo does not take into account that they want nothing to do with any huge mobilisation of workers (even if this was possible in the present political climate) in case protest spreads beyond anti-nazi issues. Their approach to the BNP is to campaign for the re-election of New Labour.

    It may purge your bitterness towards German and Rees if a kangeroo court was set up to initiate a show trial for these two but that still wouldn’t substitute for the left NOT capitulating to the strategy of your mates in Compass. If we’re going to build a left that’s independent of New Labour then we can’t repeat the mistakes of the Labour left that led to New Labour in the first place.

    So instead of rubbishing the initiatives of the left and telling us we’re not good enough why don’t you get some perspective and show some unity.

  17. XSWP on said:

    This is tragic – the BNP scum are bigger than ever before, and our national anti-fascist demo was only 2,000 (or even if we claim 5,000 or 10,000??! huh?)

    And simpleton CC cheerleaders like Ray refuse any assessment of reality. If he represents current party leadership thinking, well I’d better stop looking in that direction for hope.

    We socialists better get our act together. By the end of this year, according to ruling class and govt pundits, fuel costs will rise by at least 40% while UK house prices will plummet by at leat 10% or 15% (= negative equity and massive repayments for millions). Millions and millions will be driven deeper into poverty. Many millions more will see their aspirations dashed.

    So now, here we are. Shit hit the fan time. Plus a near pogrom atmosphere against Muslims and the most popular neo-nazi front for half a century. and the weakest ever left.

    But so much to hope for. The victorious Shell drivers represent the first out and out victorious trade union strike for decades. If only the left could now organise around a simple platform of demands addressing the costs of fuel, housing, food, war and environmental crisis.

    Larry

  18. BRIAN MAC on said:

    swp – HAVE NOT GOT – BALLS or anylisis of real stuggle u got think at least 1/2 of the fuckwicts are in the pay – M 15161,,,,sad twats needc to be Middle “class”
    no dis repect – I’m no fool to my afficiatiatio to rr
    either – lets get a life and revolation al wats

  19. harold on said:

    I wasn’t there today. There after a lifetime of being involved in the fight against fascism and being weened on that – my parents were at Cable Street – am I a sectarian? Or maybe it was because that like thousands in the movement who would ahve attended had it have been seriosuly called and necessary, I didn’t cancel a prior enagagement? I’m sorry if there are some out there who think that our social diaries are organised by the SWP central committee.
    If you are serious about fighting fascism, maybe you might consult the wider movement before committing us to something which we think isn’t appropriate and at the wrong place and ill prepared. Nick Griffin must be riding high because of the SWP’s sectarianism.
    On Ray’s rubbish about the attaendance and the TUC bureaucracy: the TUC however wedded they are to Brown have to fight fascism. Indeed we were told a long list of TUs supporting the demo last week by the adventurers. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways?
    If you analyse it the SWP claim 10,000 – that means that at best it was 5,000, given their well documented history of exaggeration. If ‘the rest of the left were there’ who might count for 2,000 – 4,000, then even the SWP didn’t mobilise. If the SWP CC ordered their entitre membership out, then it doesn’t say very much about who else will have turned up.
    There are serious members of the SWP who will have something to say – about the calling of the demo and how such sectarianism must never happen again. Fighting fascism is something we may be prepared to die for. Don’t treat us with such contempt for small minded sectarian ends ever again.

  20. “I wasn’t there today.”

    And yet you’re eager to rubbish the people that were. Maybe you would do better to follow your own advice in future.

    “Don’t treat us with such contempt for small minded sectarian ends ever again.”

  21. harold on said:

    #20 Ray – You are indeed contemptible. If you read what I’d written, and put it in the context of why myself and others weren’t there you’d start to get out of the the tiny minded sectarian framework you operate in.
    Perhaps you should read again (if you ever read it in the first place the Communist Manifesto. Chapter 2. Speaking of communists, ‘They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement’.
    Marx didn’t exempt the SWP with a rider that stated ‘but they can call demos to suit themselves without involving the wider movement’.
    Why not go away and ponder as to why most of the movement was not there. I’ll give you a simple clue to get started in your deliberations: the SWP called it abusing their position in UAF and expected everyone else to turn up.
    Or just carry on your denial, beat drums about being ‘the biggest’ and when reality catches up, I hope you still have an organisation.

  22. Howard T on said:

    Obvious that Ray (#20)didn’t read what Harold wrote before he replied. You can’t moralise people into action. Why was the demo called yesterday? What was its purpose? Was the movement consulted? Do the SWP really believe that the movement is them and them alone? Even comments such as ‘the entire rest of the left was there'(#2) says something of the failings of SWP thinking. Presumably the left for them is anything to the left of the Labour Party excluding the Greens and Respect. So we don’t try and mobilise the Labour Party members, community organisations then?
    I thought the whole call was stupid, but still tried to build it – make the best of a bad job, if you like.
    Please Ray and others – don’t lecture and moralise with everyone else – look instead at the way you relate to the rest of the movement – we’re not here to help you build ‘the party’.

  23. alexander poskrebyshev on said:

    #16 Ray, you are not the left, you are part of the left. It was SWP leadership cheerleaders who boasted before the demo that there was massive support coming in from the trade unions, so don’t suddenly change the hymn sheet now.

    This demo was a reaction not primarily to the election of Barnbrook but the abysmal election performance of the SWP. Many people warned this was a really bad way to decide whether or not an anti-BNP demo called by Martin Smith and Weyman Bennett was a good idea.

    Now we know the result of this sectarian attitude towards the needs of the movement, and just look at the photos to see how dishonenst the claims of Socialist Worker are.

    But the SWP cheerleaders carry on as though a) the demo was a great success, despite the fact that you couldn’t even mobilise most of the SWP’s claimed membership of almost 7,000, and b) it was everyone else’s fault that so few turned up. Is that what you call a dialectical contradiction because it just looks like confused and contradictory apologetics to me?

  24. David Rosenberg on said:

    I was on the LMHR demo yesterday, having wrongly anticipated it would be considerably bigger. I should have taken notice of the fact that many people I mentioned it too had no idea it was happening. I would agree with those who put the numbers around 2000. The march itself was upbeat but clearly hadn’t recruited much beyond the already committed activists. I got given a leaflet from Respect Renewal yesterday so there were some of them there too.

    15 years ago we recoiled in panic when a single BNP councillor (Beackon) was elected in the whole of Britain. Clearly we are in a much more dangerous situation now, when some of us think it is a victory that the BNP only got one seat on the London assembly to add to the dozens it has picked up around the country.

    And much as I loathe the SWP’s sectarianism and opportunism, it think that sectarianism in the anti-fascist movement has been at least a two-way street for a very long time now.

    There are of course real differences of perspective on how to defeat the fascists but I don’t believe that these break down simply on organisational lines. There is a great willingness among a lot of ordinary anti-fascists out there, committed to different organisations, to do the job that is required – and a great responsibility on those in positions of organisational responsibility to focus now purely on getting the most effective united action going, and not waste any more time on sectarian rivalry.

    Love Unity Hate Sectarianism

  25. Halshall on said:

    #24

    Couldn’t put it better Dave.

    Yesterday’s dismal turnout, built hastily ( or rather not built), without the momentum of a campaign behind it ( either locally or nationally); and without unity with others like Searchlight and even I guess the potential strength of UAF, suggests putting factional interests before defeating the fascists.
    Yes, much of this has to come from a reinvigorated level of W / C struggle generally, but this doesn’t mean we are powerless to try to kick-start things.
    Witness the successful local counter-demo against the BNP in B & D in late 2006; only it wasn’t followed up.
    And we’ve just seen the successful tanker-drivers strike, so not only is the anger there but the potential for a fightback generally.
    However we shouldn’t just wait upon events,* unity in action against the BNP is the key.
    *especially with two local by-elections in B & D and Hornchurch imminent.

  26. non partisan on said:

    24 Love Unity Hate sectarianism- Agree but how? maybe by rejecting a sectarian approach to building marches? come on be honest! it was a small demo because it was built in a sectarian manner, pointing this out helps us aLL MOVE ON

  27. non partisan on said:

    how queit it is…without jj, dave festive, johng g et al any idea why they are keeping thier heads down?

  28. Howard T on said:

    Yes lets’ all move on as non-partisan #26 puts it – starting with some banging heads together, metaphorically speaking.
    How about gathering national organisational representatives together to plan a series of effective activities so that everybody who opposes fascism is included.
    From what David says in #24 the UAF name was used to persuade the left that this was a big event. As a supporter of UAF as opposed to Searchlight, I can’t but note that Searchlight got their tactics right and UAF who called the demo got it wrong.

  29. This demo really was a disastrous defeat for the leadership of the SWP.

    One of the last pieces of remaining political capital they had – in terms of goodwill in the wider movement – has been their anti-fascist work.

    So they played this UAF demo card to shore up the credibility of the Rees/German clique who had delivered them humiliation in the London elections.

    Yet they were not even able to mobilise all their own membership and supporters.

    Add to which the transparent lies about the scale of TU backing for the UAF demo – e.g. the false claim that Unite mailing every one of their members, etc.

    The SWP cadre are in a difficult position, having spent 20, 30 or 40 years of their lives building an organisation, giving time, money and making other personal sacrifices, they now have a choice.

    Keeping silent to preserve unity with these idiots will mean you go down with the ship, and all that effort will have been wasted.

    JOhn Rees and Lindesy german, and the other twits who support them, are prepared to throw all the SWP’s hard earned credibilty away to preserve their own position within the “party”.

    If you don’t change direction then you are surely going down the WRP plug-hole.

  30. LCC student on said:

    Hello tonyc, I was alerted to this by a friend…

    #6

    People like me never thought that membership number was true, so I don’t feel the need to deal with it – John G*m*, A*a* M*rk* and D*v* M*r*h will have to though.

    Tony why is my name in there? Not only that, but a friend’s name who has nothing to do with this blog either? I’d appreiciate it if the admin deleted this comment.

  31. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    I didn’t see John McDonnell there and he hadn’t spoken when I left (I don’t think I missed him).

    Could someone tell me if he did speak. Did any other Labour MP or party figure speak?

    Was there any speaker from east London? George Galloway, it will come as no surprise, was not asked by the organisers to speak.

    As for Ray’s tirades, one thing seems frighteningly to emerge: if he’s articulating, albeit badly, some internal line then it appears to be that the SWP is talking about a united front from below, bypassing “traitors” like Cruddas, Prentice, the centre left like Compass, etc. If so then that would be a truly shocking degeneration in an area of political work in which the SWP has rightly claimed a proud history.

  32. Not being funny, but if you really want to be ‘united’ the solution and problem is in all of you. There’s no particularly blatant ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ here, you just seem to lack an ability to just bite your lip and work with people that anger you, which is idiotic.

    If we could stop the fascists and also a gain a (desperately needed, might I add) united left in this country, I think it’d be worth stopping yourself from pouring pretty poisonous polemic after polemic against another comrade, or waiting to attack someone due to their party affiliation after every go. It’s not about internet fighting, you are dealing with people’s lives and everytime you fight, you are ultimately setting yourself up for more disappointment in the political sphere and more complaint, apathy and argument.

    David Rosenberg’s post was excellent, by the way.

  33. Marcus and David Rosenberg make a good point. The endless attacks on UAF and LMHR aren’t helping anyone except perhaps the nazi’s.
    May I suggest that if some of you don’t want to support UAF then get on with your own activities. It’s your blog and perhaps the best thing anti-nazi’s can do is to stay away from the negativity that permeates it.

  34. Harrods is Burning on said:

    I was on the march yesterday. I wasnear the front of the march, which was young and lively. I was asked by friends how many people I thought had been on them march and I estimated 5 to 10,000. After about an hour in Trafalgar Square, the numbers had reduced – to probably around 2,000. (It was quite easy to estimate just by looking back at the numbers listening to the speakers).

    (One reason why people drifted away quickly after the march ended but while the speakers were still going on was because the demo was young – a number of the people who’d been at the Carnival were there. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t find anything very exciting about the thought of hanging round Trafalgar Square to hear a bunch of elderly male trade unionists lecturing them).

    Those numbers aren’t going to defeat the BNP in one event but neither are they the ‘disater’ ludicrously announced by Andy who wasn’t there.

    If anything it reminded me of the turnout at the first SWP demonstration after Beackon’s election in 1992 – Welling was then larger; and the TUC supported march through East London was of course large still.

    I agree with Dave R.

  35. Mark P on said:

    David Rosenberg is of course correct. However much I likewise loath the SWP’s conservatism and control culture all that really matters is finding an effective way to turn the tide of the BNP.

    And make no mistake this is a tide that dwarfs any left of Labour project, SWP’s, Respect’s or anyone else’s. 642 wards contested on 1 May, combined SWP/Respect/SP/IWCA etc candidates hardly add up to even 50? An average 13.4% of the vote, 50+ councillors, a GLA member, with real chance in 2009 of winning MEP seats and Stoke Mayoral election, and using that platform to win a couple of seats in 2010 General Election. In just two years the BNP could become a permanent feature of the party system in this country.

    This is a considerably worse situation that the mid 1990s BNP revival of Tyndall’s BNP and threatens to have a durability the late 1970s NF lacked. This certainly demands unity not sectarianism, but it also demands a serious rethink of anti-fascist politics.

    So a score-card.

    Searchlight has offered a rethink, see http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/index.php?link=template&story=233

    UAF/LMHR simply promises more of the same. No rethink.

    Searchlight has prioritised defeating the BNP with localised work. Currently the by-elections in Redbridge and Barking.

    UAF/LMHR decide a national ‘parade’ is the immediate priority. They choose not to even mention the by-elections in any of the material for this parade, there is no mention whatsoever on their websites. This follows the LMHR ‘carnival’ which spectacularly failed to mobilise opposition to the BNP in London in the last four days of campaigning.

    Searchlight has successfully supported the formation of community-led campaign groups in the key areas where the BNP have a strong electoral presence.

    UAF/LMHR have a strong national profile but lack any depth of support in communities. Their activities are mainly dependent on the SWP’s own priorities and lack much independent profile of their own.

    Nobody is getting this entirely right otherwise the BNP wouldn’t be in such a relatively strong position. LMHR are brilliant at putting on concerts, the SWP through UAF have a network of committed activists but on their own this doesn’t amount to much. Despite the ill-founded slurs Searchlight has a huge amount of well-deserved credibility amongst both the trade unions and community campaigns against the BNP.

    In an ideal world a left-of-Labour party would be campaigning for votes in precisely these mainly working class constituencies where the BNP are doing so well, South Yorkshire for goodness sake! But right now we are all a long way short of such a challenge. So short of that a community-led campaign rooted in these localities to stop the BNP in next year’s Euro and crucial Stoke Mayoral election is the best option. Searchlight is offering a strategy towards that end, right now there is zero evidence UAF/LMHR are. Those involved in UAF/LMHR might want to engage in debate with the SWP who dominate both UAF and LMHR to that end, but that seems to me in the urgent circumstances we face a dangerous waste of time and energy. I am yet to hear a single credible argument – rather than the idiotic slurs – why anyone should do anything but back the approach Searchlight is advocating. The prevarication suggests ‘the Left knows best’ tendency is being adopted instead of a serious engagement with the strategic demands of a key campaign, to stop the BNP forging the kind of electoral breakthrough the outside Left right now can only dream of.

    Mark P

  36. will mcmahon on said:

    Nice spin Harrods is Burning, but it is spin. The demo came straight into the square and was 2,000 at that point – not after young people had drifted away.It does not take a demo of 10,000 a few minutes to pass I’m sorry. We are not going to get anywhere unless we face facts. This is not an attacking or sectarian point. I wanted a big demo not a small one. I made my original point because I was gob smacked by Lenin’s Tombs creative writing. Look at how many posts are on that blog commenting…the message is clearly let’s try and put a positive gloss on this while people are reading and move on as quickly as possible. There is also an absence of debate on that blog, can’t think why. That is no way to build resistance to racism and fascism.

  37. It isn’t spin Will because I was on the demo too. It was much larger than the anti-Bush demo and bigger than other demo’s I’ve been on that were reported to have 5000+ on them. What I object to is the constant belittling of UAF/LMHR efforts and under-reporting the size of the demo is part of this strategy.

    It would have been great if 50,000+ turned up but as Harrods points out it is the first demo among many we hope. Demo’s do not prevent anti-nazi’s from organising other activities. Most importantly, over 5,000 anti-nazi’s turned up to a lively demo with much better TU representation than I’ve seem in a long time.

    I spoke with a friend today who belongs to a gay social/dance group. They sent a contingent on the demo and came away full of enthusiasm. For a number of them it was their first time on a demo. They didn’t stay for all the speakers because they wanted to go down the pub. Now after reading the moribund attacks on this blog do I go back and tell my friend the demo was a failure (or “shambolic” as Kevin Ovenden claimed) because it didn’t attract 50,000 people or do I encourage their enthusiasm by suggesting other anti-BNP activity they can get involved in like leafleting Dagenham for example?

  38. Howard T on said:

    The SWP joining this discussion play with the numbers on the demo, play up the impact and refuse to look at the reality we are facing. I couldn’t agree more with the general analysis of Mark P. who talks of strategy. Not a single SWper has a strategy. It’s simply call a demo because we hate the Nazis.
    Nazis that they are, the BNP do have a strategy and they’ve moved on from the 70s when they routinely called demos and we turned up and ‘countered’ them. I’m staying with UAF because I agree with its politics and not Searchlight’s who make concessions to islamaphobia. However, I have a right to raise the stupidity of the tactics that has weakened the anti-fascist movement and gives more credibility to Searchlight who got their tactics right.
    Harrods is burning, having justified the tactless calling of this march writes ‘and the TUC supported march through East London was of course large(r)’ when referring back to marches in the 90s. Quite some worki has to be done to get TUC and national union support (statements we heard that Unite were mailing all of 2 million members at a minimum of 27p ie spending £1/2 million was just bravado by some.
    Yes go back and carry on pretending all is well. Convince yourself that the SWP CC is infallable. Remember one thing: the CC may instruct you to attend an event, but they cannot instruct the movement.
    Because we won’t adhere to every beck and call from the SWP, does not mean that we are not serious about fighting fascism. Many of us have no choice.
    If you think that criticism of your tactics is a refusal to fight the BNP, then you couldn’t be more wrong. If you can’t admit that perhaps something was wrong, then you will not be able to face up to the next problem we face.

  39. Sarah Hart on said:

    I can’t believe the blinkered approach that Ray has.’I was on the demo too. It was much larger than the anti-Bush demo’. The anti-Bush demo was also a disaster.
    Ray – it’s not just about numbers – the SWP line is to think we’ll win by keep on having demos. The BNP don’t have demos any more!
    Mass leafletting of Dagenham is what has to be done and there was no mention of it at the demo. We can all tell stories. A friend of mine heard from a local Dagenham union secretary who was livid that this demo was being called.
    Yes we do need a demo, but one that is properly called and inclusive – way beyond John McDonnell in the Labour Party, supported by all political parties and miobilised for by trade unions, mosques, synagogues, churches.
    An SWP callout cannot beat the fascists. If yesterday was the best we could do, we’ve lost.

  40. Howard, your arguement that the tactics of the SWP are to blame for not having a huge demo is completely unrealistic. You don’t want to accept where the anti-nazi movement is starting from right now.

    There’s a lot of re-writing of the history of the ANL on this blog. The ANL didn’t have TUC backing from day one. It had to argue for demo’s and other activity in the face of stiff opposition from the TU bureaucracy. Eventually large demo’s were built on the back of much smaller ones.

    Counterposing Searchlights leafleting with the LMHR demo is a straw man because UAF are involved in campaigning against the BNP in local areas including Dagenham.

    I think you’re demanding a short-cut, Howard, and unfortunately not even the SWP in all our wisdom and omnipotence can avail you of this.

  41. Sarah, your doom laden analysis of the anti-nazi movement is far from helpful. If you’re willing to give up because the first demo after the GLA election wasn’t huge then I don’t know how you would have coped when Beacon got elected. Perhaps you don’t remember but the BNP weren’t marching then either.

    If you’re not happy with the first demo against the BNP then I suggest you get together with those who are heaping scorn on UAF/LMHR and call a demo and demonstrate how to do it properly. You might have to wait a very long time before Cruddas and Compass get involved but don’t let that get in the way of us organising anti-BNP activity in the meantime.

    See you in Dagenham.

  42. Howard T on said:

    I don’t think it is myself who is looking for a short cut! Some members of the SWP know that yesterday’s demo did nothing except waste the movement’s time at best.
    Sometimes you cannot have a large demo on an issue because the relationship of forces within society makes it impossible, so a demo of 5,00o would be good. If the relationship of forces against the BNP isn’t favourable, we are in trouble. Why have a small demo when a large one can be built?
    Just carry on – the SWP leadership does no wrong – any one from the wider movement who criticises the SWP is sectarian. (SWP do not even know what the word sectarian means in Marxist terms – it’s not being polemical against another organisation – its putting your organisational interests before the movcement as a whole. Remember that UAF affiliates and supporters include not just myself but a wider movement. That wider movement will not keep contributing to SWP led UAF antics such as this.

  43. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Ray

    Trying to explain the terribly poor turnout at yesterday’s demonstration is not the same as “attacking” the SWP/LMHR.

    It is about facing reality in order to mount an effective intervention against the BNP. (I’m a member of the Anti Nazi League and of UAF, if this makes it easier for you.)

    We were told – by someone who said they were at the Unite union’s conference – that the largest union in the country was mobilising for this demonstration to such an extent that it had mailed every member, two million people. Now I sincerely hope that we were misinformed about that. Because if Unite did that and if this demonstration had the backing of the trade union structures that people such as you claimed it did, then the pitiful result of their efforts is truly depressing.

    As it happens, having spoken to a number of the leading trade unionists – officers and lay officials – who were at yesterday’s march, most of them had a similar attitude to mine to it: they felt they ought to go along because they had been “bounced” (the word used by three executive members/officers or three different large unions) but they did not see this as a serious initiative.

    If you think people such as Will and myself are being rude about the thinking that led to this debacle, you should hear what important figures in the movement are saying.

    When it comes to the history of the ANL – in the 1970s and 1990s – I’m afraid you and Harrods Is Burning don’t have a clue what you are talking about. By the time Derek Beacon was elected, in September 1993, the ANL had already had bigger mobilisations that yesterday’s. UAF already has the broad official support which the ANL only began to achieve following the Welling demonstration in October 1993.

    At the same time as Welling there was another demonstration of 2-3,000 which ended up in Trafalgar Square, feeding the pidgeons as one Tony Cliff acidly put it.

    The BNP’s methods and strategy have changed and they are also far further ensconced in British society than in 1993. What’s needed is a serious coming together of the fissiparous anti-fascist movement and left to launch a coherent counter response. As Searchlight acknowledge that also poses the political question of who represents disaffected Labour voters.

    Lastly, it’s time you and other SWP members stopped behaving as if UAF was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SWP. It is not. It came out of the ANL burying the hatchet with rivals, crucially the National Assembly Against Racism.

    (PS: Ray, did you stay for all the speeches? Did McDonnell or any other MP/leading Labour Party figure speak? It’s a genuine question.)

  44. Birmingham Respect Member on said:

    The discussion on how many people turned up yesterday is important. It is a measure both of where the movement is at, and of the correctness or otherwise of the tactic in calling the demonstration in the first place.

    For supporters of UAF – of which I am one – it is also important to be honest. Attempting to cover up a wrong tactic by inflating its success beyond all reason will damage UAF.

    I just spoke to a very active supporter of UAF in the Midlands – not someone who just turns up to the occasional protest, but someone who organises and speaks for UAF in the region. He certainly has no interest in talking down UAF. True, he didn’t think calling the demonstration was a good idea. But he went anyway.

    His count was 1,000. He laughed at the suggestion that it was more than 2,000, and nearly fell off his chair at the idea that “up to 10,000” attended.

    This just cannot be attributed to ‘hostile’ forces trying to ‘demoralise’ the movement. These are people who have spent years working with UAF who do not want to see it wrecked.

  45. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Birmingham Respect Member

    Yours is one of the most important comments on this thread. It completely accords with my converstations with people on the demonstration yesterday. As for the size – to be honest I was being generous saying it was 2,000, the time it took to go by and the number of people who went by during two 30 second intervals actually suggested it was 12-1500.

    The point, however, is that we now need to take stock and develop a serious response, whatever those who prosetylised for yesterday’s demonstration think.

  46. optimistic Larry Nugent on said:

    According to Lenin’s tomb police snatch squads were doing wholesale arrests at yesterday demo. Do we have police figures on arrests and the their numbers on the actual demo.

  47. Howard T on said:

    Birmingham Respect Member has said it all. Many of us did not snub, boycott or sabotage the demo, but got what support we could. We were angry about the sectarian approach to fighting fascism that we felt was behind the callinng. Now we have to put up with the arrogance of a party who cannot ebven convince its own members to turn up! I think it was more than 1,000, though; but even 5,000 would not have hidden the leadership problem.

  48. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    I didn’t see any snatch squads from where I was. How many were arrested? Are there any charges?

  49. Stuart G on said:

    Kevin #46, I find your contribution interesting about the events of 1993.
    You may recall that after Stephen Lawrence’s death, there were many unified activities (in as much as they could be unified between ANL and AntiRacistAlliance) prior to the huge march at Welling.
    Under Marc Wadsworth’s leadership, the central London demo was called and although at first that was going to be the demo, the ANL correctly focused on Welling. Many of us in the ARA went to central London, but we knew that the ARA leadership had blown it. (it was more like 5,000 but it wouldn’t have mattered if there had been 50,000 – it was wrong as the BNP were in Welling and they were the main problem. Many of were unhappy about the Wadsworth leadership and he carried out a witch-hunt. The opposition was led incidentally by Ken Livingstone and Lee Jasper, defeated Wadsworth, but inevitably the ARA split with the National Assembly being formed. (NAAR still exists of course, but ARA vanished).
    Some of us learnt some lessons and recognised that a huge mistake was made. The ‘burying of the hatchet’ you put very nicely, but it would tragic if the same sectarian arrogance leads to a crisis in the movement again.

  50. Sarah Hart on said:

    #44 Ray You’ve got it wrong. This was the second event called by UAF (ie SWP) since GLA election.The first was in early May outside GLA. Althogh that ‘non’event’, where no one else was consulted either, is conveniently forgotten.

  51. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Stuart G

    I entirely agree, with both your historical account and fears about a crisis in the movement being repeated today.

    I’m afraid I don’t see the current leadership of the SWP pulling back or showing the nimbleness it did in May of 1993.

    Older readers will remember that Stephen Lawrence had been murdered – the third racist murder in south east London.

    The Militant/Socialist Party through Panther UK (an inspired initiative) and YRE (a dull one) called a large, militant and very black demonstration in Abbey Wood/Thamesmead. Stephen’s parents inspired vast numbers in the way they responded to the tragedy, working mainly with Marc Wadsworth and the Anti Racist Alliance. The Anti Nazi League called a demonstration which although called before the Militant’s was scheduled for after it: it was very poor in turnout, the route was almost through the countryside, and there were very few black people on it.

    The SWP leadership – which recognised the mistake, as did all of us who were centrally involved in that area of work – managed to change tack (without the sky falling in) and took the initiative for the Unity demonstration (The YRE/Panther, ANL, and IWA). The SWP emerged from that October demonstration as the force that had provided the best strategy for the anti-fascist movement.

    Meanwhile, in east London, where the BNP had broken through, the SWP was wholly engaged on the ground (all the way through to providing cars on polling day) in ousting Beacon from Milwall and capping the BNP in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Redbridge and Barking. It wasn’t the SWP alone, of course, but it was engaged.

    Yesterday really ought to prompt the kind of radical rethink which the SWP was capable of in 1977, in May of 1993 and at the anti-war movement.

  52. Unite took 2 million leaflets for the demo. The were due to me mailed out to all members of the Union with the first issue of the new union magazine. The magazine mailing has not yet gone out, although it was supposed to. The Unite London and Eastern Regional Secretary spoke at the beginning and end of the demo in an official capacity. He was as mystified as me as to why the mailing had not gone out. When he realised it hadn’t, he did a mailing to branch officers and reps publicising the demo, but the effect was limited because, inevitably, it was done later than anyone wanted. Unite rermains committed to supporting LMHR and UAF. The Regional Council this week will be discussing campaigning activities in areas of London where the BNP are strongest – not just Barking, Dagenham and Havering, but also including areas like Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Bexley and Greenwich. We want to look at how organised workplaces in those areas, such as the bus garages, and be used as bases for anti-fascist activity. Nothing concrete yet but we want to have something in place quickly.

    The demo yesterday was not large, but the atmosphere was good. I don’t see how anyone could say it had a negative impact on anti-fascist work even it was not as successful as some of us had hoped.

  53. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    PW

    The London region of the old MSF/Amicus will, I’m sure, seek to do its best, as will the T&G.

    But you are not doing anyone any favours when you seek to speak in the name of Unite, when you are but one executive member. You need to have a sense of responsibility commensurate with your elevated status. You told people, contra those of us who were critical of the mobilisation, that Unite and Derek Simpson were throwing a lot into this. It turned out not to be true. You should reflect.

    Meanwhile, Searchlight also has significant trade union backing and has done the work around the T&G, NASUWT, GMB and others over the last five years. As an executive member of a major union you must surely recognise that it’s time for a unifying initiative rather than playground antics.

  54. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    PW

    And it will do no good prosecuting this cause in your union claiming, euphemistically, that yesterday’s demonstration was “not large”. It was terribly small. Members of your own union who were there said so. Don’t pretend. It does none of us any favours.

  55. Stuart G on said:

    I thought it useful to come in with a little humility, without raking the coals, that some of us did some really useful anti-racist work in the early 90s, but lost out because of a sectarian leadership. The ANL weren’t angels, I have to say, but when Wadsworth had been defeated, things moved forward and UAF was possible.
    Noting PW’s points, it doesn’t matter how cheerful the demo was yesterday, the question is was it the best that the anti-fascist movement can do?
    Redbridge & Dagenham are crucial in the immediate sense, but there’s a wider agenda – it’s no coincidence that we’ve had demos attacked two weeks running. The police under Boris know that they can do what they like. Whereas Ken defended the police in relation to anti-terrorism, it’s true, but you might also note that demos were not routinely attacked by the police under Ken Livingstone – in fact the teachers demo on 24th April had no police at all!
    More importantly, the new Mayor has given a nod and a wink to the racists, hiding behind a mask of knowing nothing about it.
    One more point worth noting: who is mobilised is important. Kevin refers to Lewisham 1977 when SWP and IMG played a considerable role in mobilising. However, the decisive contribution was the South London black community who completely blocked the New Cross road. They didn’t turn out because the left told them to, remember. I admit I was on a ‘diversion’ in 1993, but the impetus for Welling and where the ARA lost it was the black community linking BNP with the murders and knowing that central London was on that occasion irrelevant.
    Some of us seem to have learnt something, I guess.

  56. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Stuart G

    That’s really refreshing. WRT the policing of yesterday’s march: I didn’t see the police in aggressive mode. I’d really like to hear accurate descriptions of how they behaved, arrests, etc. We’re pursuing the police over the Bush demonstration and the information from yesterday would be useful.

  57. Kevin – I’m not a member of the Unite Executive Council, although there were five or six on the demo yesterday. I try to be quite precise in my postings here and don’t talk about things unless I have direct knowledge. I perhaps should have added that as well as support for UAF and LMHR, Unite also supports Searchlight. All three organisations have received significant funding from the Union. When I say the Union’s support is continuing is because I have direct knowledge that this is true.

    I also don’t pretend that everything is fine in the union and there are no divisions. But what is remarkable is how much people can work together without letting those differences overwhelm the points where they agree. I spent the day in a broad left meeting where everybody else was a Labour Party member (including a parliamentary candidate). We didn’t agree on everything but managed to reach consensus on all the key action points. I didn’t feel, as an SWP member, that I had compromised any of my principles, and I don’t think any of the Labour Party members felt they had been conned by the SWP. We could achieve unity because we are trying to pull in the same direction.

    The same is true in London. The TGWU and Amicus have just come together – and there was an initial lack of trust between the two broad left organisations. we have worked to overcome that and are now in the process of merging. Kevin is right that there are two regional committees until November of this year. But the left are in a majority on both and we are trying to ensure we both pull in hte same direction – two or three from ech committee attend the meetings of the other. I used a shorthand to imply there is one body because for political purposes we are close to that.

    I find the suggestions that the SWP can’t work with anybody else because its what I spend my whole life doing…

  58. Pw #62 “and there was an initial lack of trust between the two broad left organisations. we have worked to overcome that and are now in the process of merging.”

    Didn’t Simpson’s supporters just walk out of a gazette meeting in Preston?

  59. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    PW

    This isn’t about the minutiae of Unite. Yesterday was a political intervention. The politics behind it were wrong. Other members of your union at the event yesterday recognised that.

    How we go forward, naturally, is not so easily determined. One thing’s for sure: repeated refusal to face reality – the London elections and yesterday being the two most recent egregious examples – will do no one any good.

    Individuals such as you might well be able to work with individuals in the Labour Party. The point is the political orientation your party sets.

  60. How happy some of you sound, Kevin and Andy,Larry etc, now you have or think you have something to beat the other side, your new enemies, over the head with.

    This despite the fact that the BNP is steadily growing, putting down roots, attracting votes and members and all this after splits and with a remarkably stupid leadership yet their vote goes on climbing
    FFS wake up and smell the fascists

    This blog has degenerated with some of the least thoughtful and most viciously sectarian writing and comments I read anywhere on the left.

    I am not swp,respect, RR or any other of the 57 varieties but I do recognise crass stupidity and fatuous point scoring. I am really disgusted and will act accordingly.

  61. jean van heijenoort on said:

    #37 and #40 – I’m sorry to return to the numbers on the demo but the numbers happen to be important and so does telling the truth. It is clear from the photos that the demo was not bigger than 2,000 and may have even been smaller. The atmosphere on the demo may well have been good and I’m glad about that. But 2,000 after the SWP threw it’s entire national weight into building this for the last seven weeks, even at the expense of the Bush demo, shows that the SWP does not have the size, weight or roots it has purported to have and this demo did not fit the wider mood amongst the vast numbers of people opposed to the BNP.

    The claim that the demo was between 5,000 and 10,000 is either self-delusion or a lie and it really does smack of the school of historical falsification to suggest that photos showing a 2,000 or less demo were taken after most of the demonstrators left for a nice cup of tea. What’s more, anyone who knows how to interpret Socialist Worker reports will know that when it says the demo was “up to 10,000”, the journalists have been told by the Central Committee members who matter (who in this case will be Smith, Rees, German and maybe Bambery) to say that the demo was 10,000. As this was not remotely credible they put in the qualification “up to”. It’s simply embarassing to keep on claiming that the demo was significantly larger than the demo was to save the blushes of the idiots who called the demo in the first place in what has proved a vain attempt to overcome the humiliation the SWP received in the May elections.

    What’s more, a number of SWP members themselves who seriously tried to get people along from their workplaces and elsewhere report they failed not because the people they relate to now think the BNP is OK. Of course they don’t. They just weren’t shocked enough by Barnbrook’s election or convinced enough or angry enough to believe that another demo round central London would make any difference.

    The SWP leadership have clearly determined, Gerry Healy like, that they will continue to lie through their teeth about anything which threatens to undermine their claim to complete infallibility on absolutely everything. But if SWP members follow them down this rotten road, you ain’t going to have much of an organisation left of any worth within a fairly short period of time. Already most of the rest of the thinking left view the SWP leadership with the greatest suspicion when they don’t consider them a laughing stock.

    Some might say the future of the SWP is of little concern in the greater scheme of things. But the SWP has been a relatively large organisation in the lilliputian world of the far left and has done some very good things even in the recent past. It would be much better, given the small forces of the organised left, if the SWP was not hell bent on self-destruction but instead acknowledged its mistakes and sought a more constructive relationship with the rest of the left. Sadly, that seems unlikely given the response of SWP members on this blog to yet more proof of how badly their leadership has lost the plot.

    The more important issue is how we now regroup to combat the threat of the BNP. In this regard David Rosenberg’s comment in #24 seems well worth quoting: “There is a great willingness among a lot of ordinary anti-fascists out there, committed to different organisations, to do the job that is required – and a great responsibility on those in positions of organisational responsibility to focus now purely on getting the most effective united action going, and not waste any more time on sectarian rivalry.” I hope that wise voices in both Searchlight and UAF will respond to the grassroots desire for a more united approach which will help to mobilise into activity the vast amount of opposition to the BNP.

  62. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    ANiN

    I’m sorry you feel that way. But I think it’s unwarranted. If yesterday proved anything it was that moralism and a holier than thou attitude (obscuring the actual motivations of the actors involved) gets nowhere.

    Go ahead and act accordingly. But please do not imagine that you have a greater stake in or are more committed to building an effective response to the BNP than the others.

    Perhaps we might contribute together to constructing it.

  63. Anti-fascist on said:

    ….”We have to challenge the Nazis where they are trying to build a base.” Said Weyman in Socialist Worker.

    So I was very surprised that he went for a march and did not actually go to where the BNP were trying to build a base.

    This sort of diversionary tactic is something that SWP are famous for.

    Imagine what those 2000 marchers could have done in terms of actual work where the BNP were standing!

    Instead, the SWP/LMHR/UAF went for a march to an empty building to campaign against somebody who was already democratically elected.

    As for calling Searchlight islamaphobic, that is as offensive as it is stupid. Rather like calling UAF Antisemites..

  64. optimistic Larry Nugent on said:

    it does no one on the left any good to wallow in the status quo.

    Saturday was just another day in the well documented crass leadership of the SWP since August 2007

    It really has nothing to do with Respect renewal, its all about the coalition of left and progressives forces that seen the merit of George Galloway’s letter seeking a more democratic shared leadership which was opposed by the SWP cc and then accepted by them, finally by untruths to their SWP members they sought divorce and even walked out on that. Respect Renewal did not exist at the time.

    The SWP is the only member group that has left the coalition and because of their weight of numbers they have futilely tried to bounce the rest of the left through “political mobbing” at every opportunity such as barring people of the left off platforms and making unrealistic demands on not just the left and progressive movement but on the trade union and labour movement by calling a snap national demo after their disastrous GLA election showing. Its all about saving their face and they have not done a good job of that. How can they future they claim the yellow jacket.

    The left and progressive movement have proved they will not bow to “political mobbing”

  65. Realist on said:

    I’m afraid that the SWP has a reputation for starting these projects (or hijacking them) and then destroying them.

    There was no reason for the UAF/LMHR no to go to B&D and fight against the BNP accept for the fact that Searchlight and the trade union movment have been engaged in a battle down there for over three years and have refused the SWP’s requests for them to lead this campaign.

    Christ, can you imagine what some of those people on the B&D council estates would make of the SWP on their doorstep!!?

    UAF/LMHR’s biggest filing (among so many) is that they confuse taking the lead with leading.

    Some of us older, wiser heads, have far too long memories to allow the nonsense of UAF/LMHR to previal, especially when we are working with real people with real problems and issues, where slogans like “Nazi” just do not cut it.

    When it comes to proper, political work the SWP marches elsewhere.

    Good riddance.

  66. Jim Monaghan on said:

    The campaign in B&D doesnt seem to have worked that well in it’s current shape, as the BNP have 10 coucillors and barnbrook made it to the London assembly.

  67. Joseph Kisolo on said:

    I think that there are two strands of posible disagrement with the demo that took place.

    One argument is that holding national anti-BNP demo’s is old hat and doesn’t fit with organising against the ‘new’ BNP. On this argument national demo’s are conter-posed with local organisation and the later is said to be what we should focus on.

    The other (serperate) argument critises the way in which Saterdays demonstration was called and built for.

    I support the second argument, the demonstration should have been organised after a prosess of local events and in consultation with other groups rather then at (relativly) short notice and primarly at the comand of the ‘leaders’ of one group.

    However I disagree with the first.

    As well as discrediting the BNP localy we need to discredit them in popular culture – this culture is not nessarly shiftable from a local level, we need to engage with it nationaly. When they are done right, national demonstrations can play an important part in this – and also the LMHR music events.

    This is especialy true when we think about combating the BNP in the Euro elections where puting leflets through doors just won’t make any differnce, we will nedd to mount a campaign that gets propaganda out at a much broader level.

  68. Adamski on said:

    My personal opinion is that the march would have been far more effective in Dagenham, but I’m not down with the organisers so there may have been specific reasons why the march wasn’t there.

    The previous action called by similar forces was 50,000 – 100,000 from what I have heard (I wasn’t present), so perhaps surprising that this weekend’s action was much smaller.

    The short notice of the demonstration, a weekend after the visit of Bush, might have resulted in the low size. But it was right, in my opinion, to call an immediate demo given the election of Barnbrook to immediately get the ball rolling.

    Organisers face the problem that their seems to be a lot of complacency now about the BNP, when Derek Beacon was elected people seemed a lot more fired-up, now there seems to be a lot of complacency. This complacency must urgently be challenged.

    The defeat of Ken Livingstone has probably led to a demoralisation in the London Labour Left that probably meant that cog was not turning.

    There also appears to have been a split in UAF, with a minority opposing calling an immediate demo.

    In my experience, except in exceptional circumstances (Israel bombing the hell out of Lebanon), the Summer is not a good time for demonstrations, people away on holiday, trade unionists away at conference etc.. students gone home/ Many students from here attended the LMHR Carnival before the election who had gone back to their homes for the summer.

    The key thing is what happens next? In a lot of places, anti-fascist campaigning has been carried by a small number of trade unionists, or groups like the SWP have been able to mobilise people. The SWP seem broadly correct in saying that their needs to now be a big country-wide push to build broad based popular anti-fascist coalitions in every locale, and that activists across Britain need to prioritise building these coalitions.

  69. Bystander on said:

    Adamski said “My personal opinion is that the march would have been far more effective in Dagenham, but I’m not down with the organisers so there may have been specific reasons why the march wasn’t there.”

    Well, as SWPers on here have said, a Central London demo would be a national focus and thus much bigger…

  70. Realist on said:

    #73. Are you having a laugh?

    If you knew Barking and Dagenham you would be surprised there are not more BNP councillors. That is the painful, prgamatic reality.

    When the left is finally drawn from places like B&D and not from coffee shops in Hackney, perhaps we will actually be going somewhere

    But you obviously do not know much.

    There are 2 BNP councillors in Dagenham, not 10. But you carry on talking bollocks, that’s what you do best obviously.

  71. frenetic on said:

    Its not students you have to convince, your emphasis on them is very revealing and you wonder why working class people are not interested in the left

    ’75
    the Summer is not a good time for demonstrations, people away on holiday, trade unionists away at conference etc.. students gone home/ Many students from here attended the LMHR Carnival before the election who had gone back to their homes for the summer.

  72. frenetic on said:

    @realist

    Its all about paper selling and rebuilding the SWP, meanwhile the day to day hard work on the estates or working on basic issues you describe as carried out by groups like the IWCA is derided as ‘nationalism’ or not linked into the ‘war on terror’ (see snowball’s ridiculous comment)

  73. Theo Saurus on said:

    The IWCA are tiny (just over 300 paid-up members) and have not gone beyond Oxford. They performed badly in the last elections and lost councillors. They have achieved nothing in the last 15 years.

    Seems as though the trade union leadership, apart from excellent exceptions like Bob Crowe of the RMT and the GMB Union, are dragging their feet on this. Just their usual top down approach, trying to keep things in control. Meanwhile, the working class suffer increases in racist abuse and violence. When are the Prentice’s (disciplining good activits and anti-fascists) of this world and the other New Labour apologists gonna get off their arses and organise against the fascists, rather than just issuing their usual empty words?

  74. Tinnus on said:

    81#

    At that size it woiuld make the say the 5th biggest group on the left

    CPB – 1000 members, Militant 700 SWP 500 SPGB 500 so 300 would make them quite big compartiatvly esp in a such a localised area

  75. Randy Newman on said:

    >> CPB – 1000 members, Militant 700 SWP 500 SPGB 500

    In which parallel dimension did you gather these membership figures?

  76. JimPage on said:

    Just to clarify for post 77, BNP have 12, not 2 councillors in B&D, 1 in Havering and 1 in Redbridge

    For antifascists everywhere- there are the forthcoming by elections with BNP candidates I know of

    27 June
    Henley parliament seat
    Hatfield Central ward
    Blackpool Park Ward

    3 July
    Bexley Christchurch Ward
    Barking Chadwell Heath ward
    Havering South Hornchurch ward
    Derbyshire CC- Eckington
    Corsham TC- Corsham ward

    10 July
    Chichester DC Bury Ward
    Wigan MDC Wigan West
    Redbridge Cranbrook Ward

    17 July
    Redditch BC Batchley
    Worcs CC Arrow Valley East
    Hillingdon Townfield Ward (plus NF)

  77. The Unite members’ magazine – with the leaflet for Saturday’s demo – arrived today. So we can say the intention was there, the execution was, however, poor.

  78. frenetic on said:

    @88 So how much have they wasted?, Unite that is on a belated leaflet for a SWP recruitment exercise! it would be nice, say if Unite and other Unions did something about the welfare reforms which will see more harrasment and cuts for disabled people, single parents and the unemployed

  79. Red Bob on said:

    #85

    Clarify for #77 that “only” two of those are in Dagenham.

    #77’s ignorance smells like UAF central committee.

  80. billaricaydickey on said:

    This is the first time I have posted here as I had never heard of the site until someone gave me a link after the events of the weekend. I am possibly the oldest person posting on here and my experience of the anti fascist movement goes back to 1964 when I was seventeen. As you can imagine I have a lot of stories to tell and the ones that I will recount about the SWP are not nice.

    One of the things that I have found about the anti fascist movement, and possibly this is true of other movements historically, is that it lives on myths. Mosely was defeated at Cable St, The ANL stopped the NF etc etc. The first thing that has to be done is to start dumping ideological baggage and face reality and I am pleased to see that this is happening, at least that is what I get from the posts here.

    The first thing that everyone has to realise is the the SWP leadership cannot be involved in any way shape or form in any new united front, not that I think there is a need for one. Look at the track record just over the last thirty years or so. The formation of the ANL in 1977 was an opportunistic attempt to take over a very diverse movement that had already been functioning for ten years. The very first meeting of the NF was attacked and broken up and by the time that the ANL was formed the NF were in decline.

    Sticking just to anti fascism the same thing happened with UAF, a backdoors deal done between Socialist Action and the SWP and the fait acompli was announced. Everyone had to join and any individual and group who did not was a wrecker. The problem that UAF had which the SWP leadership didn’t have in the seventies was that there was already a fully functioning anti fascist movement around the country with groups either set up by Searchlight or working with them.

    The opportunism is clear because if the Livingstone/Jasper/SWP group were genuine in their desire to fight the BNP all they had to do was to offer to form an alliance with existing groups. This however would have meant that they did not exert control so a new organisation was formed and the heirarchy appointed, no election was ever held and there was no prior consulation. The child was formed fully grown and everyone was told take it or leave it.

    The problem they had was what to do with all of the existing groups at that time numbering about thirty. The first tactic was to try and take them over, sometimes by threats of violence. Martin Smith was the main “heavy” although he was only of use against students, old people and teenage girls! When that didn’t work because people stood up to them they just constituted the local SWP branch as the UAF one and ignored everyone who had been working for years locally against the fascists.

    The story of how Searchlight was first of all excluded, then admitted under trades union pressure and then left, has been documented by them and can be found on their website. The founding of UAF coincided with the founding of Respect and it was this priority of SWP needs which has determined to the present day whether or not UAF functioned or not. For instance in the 2006 campaign out in Barking and Dagenham when the BNP took their twelve seats there was no sign of them atall. Weyman Bennett wrote articles about huge leafleting campaigns which never took place and this lying has been the hallmark of the organisation from the start.

    The reason for the no shows was that the SWP leadership had a three line whip that all effort was to be put into Respect in Tower Hamlets and Newham in London and in Birmingham. This was repeated every time there was BNP activity all over the country,whatever the SWP leadership wanted determined if UAF functioned or not.

    The prediction is that with the collapse of all its other campaigns the SWP will now concentrate on UAF but that organisation is dead in the water, the posts on this site show that. The next few weeks and months are going to be interesting as SWP/UAF are shown to be completely bankrupt in every way.

    This situation of course coincides with the continued slow but steady improvement in the electoral perfomance of the BNP so what is to be done? The first thing is that a lot of the people posting here, who are obviously sincere in their anti fascism, are going to have to dump a lot of their ideological baggage that they have been carrying around for years. Out will have to go the concept of the Vanguard Party, admiration of the mass murderers Lenin and Trotsky and the acceptance that a broad front means just that. Any new grouping based on Marxist-Leninist forms of organisation will go the way that all of the others have.

    On the Searchlight site are some forty or so local groups completely autonomous which run effective local campaigns. They look at the local issues that the BNP are exploiting and prepare effective campaigns against them, what the fascists are doing in Stoke is not what they are doing in Essex and a centralised organisation based in London is incapable of running campaigns like these, but it is exactly that centralised model that the SWP need in order to control everything.

    And finally what did happen last Saturday? What everyone sees to lamenting is that there were not more people on the march. What they should be asking themselves is even if there were more would that have stopped a single person voting BNP or a single person going out to vote against them who might not otherwise have done so? The answer has to be no and therefore the march was a failure, no ifs, no buts.

    In contrast over the course of two weekends every house and flat in the target wards was leafleted and personalised letters were delivered to eithnic minorities identified by name from the electoral register. Hard work and unglamourous but it is the only way to hold back Nick Griffin and his merry men and women.

    There it is, there is an ongoing campaign that urgently needs volunteers. The BNP are going to build on their successes to fight seats for the European Parliamnet next year and for the general election the year after. I hope the events of this last weekend will have started the debate about where the movement is going and that has to be good.

  81. Red Bob on said:

    What realist was saying quite obviously on post #77 in response to the idiot on #73 is that only 2 councillors are in Dagenham out of the 12 on the whole of B&D council.

    A bit of local knowledge is obviously of no help to the people on here.

  82. billaricaydickey on said:

    It,s all gone quiet over there.

    Look at the SWP site, the story changes by the minute. A part of the problem is that Weyman Bennett is thick and Sabby Dhalu is a suitable case for treatment.

    In Tower Hamlets the whole Respect thing has been about Syhleti village politics of which I will come back to you tomorrow
    with chapter and verse.

    Well, come on persons, I have made some very specific allegations and some very positive suggestions.

  83. Red Bob on said:

    Perhaps you should go back to the main page and comment on something else.

    Your ignorance is obviously not the only proof of your age.

  84. billaricaydickey on said:

    Red Bob,

    Do you have anything to say on the many points I have raised, does anyone?

  85. billaricaydickey on said:

    Red Bob,

    Like all Trot opportunists you have bottled it my son. When confronted you always run. You are all cowards.

  86. Alan Ji on said:

    Good Stuff, Billericay Dickey.

    I might add that in a 2005 B&D byelection when the BNP was defeated, loads of Labour Party members from neighbouring areas, like Newham, were moblised to help.

    Come the May 2006 Council elections, Labour Party members from Newham did not go to B&D: too busy locally fighting off the Christian Peoples Alliance and Respect.

  87. Sheffield Red,

    I suggest you ask these people:

    Sheffield Campaign Against Racism and Fascism
    c/o Sheffield TUC,
    Trades & Labour Club
    Talbot Street,
    Sheffield S2 2TG

    You may be able to get a contact number for them through Searchlight: Tel: 020 7681 8660