It was quite fitting that today was the last day of leafletting for Unite Against Fascism, what with it being the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the day of a crucial battle in the defeat of Hitler and his fascist Nazi party.
Today’s battleground was considerably more serene. Or at least it was today. 3 years ago Manningham was the scene of the UK’s worst ever racially aggrevated rioting. While the violence has gone, the tension is still there, and it’s this tension, along with a bit of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) which forms the basis of the campaign by the British National Party. The BNP try to appear as a respectable party who is opposed to wider immigration and favours a more traditional Britain consisting of indigenous Brits, but it’s widely argued that they are merely a cover for the outlawed National Front. Indeed, a considerable portion of their membership holds criminal convictions, including their leader Nick Griffin who has a conviction for racial hatred. Tony Lecomber, a party official, has no less than 12 convictions, including one for the possession of homemade hand grenades and electronic timing equipment. One of their cohorts has even been convicted for gang rape, and another is due in court on Tuesday for assault causing actual bodily harm after attacking a student in Salford. The leader of the Youth BNP and Salford candidate, Tony Wentworth, is also due in court this week charged with common assault. Would you vote for a party full of racist thugs? I certainly wouldn’t.
Unfortunately, that’s the problem – people do. While the BNP have only suceeded in getting a few council seats so far (and one – Maureen Stowe – defected from the party when she realised what they actually stood for), they refuse to back down. Through my volunteering over the past few weeks I’ve met a couple of people who had considered voting for them, and who believe that the BNP can make a difference. That I don’t doubt, but it won’t be a positive difference.
The BNP only exists to stir up tension and hatred. This was evidenced by a recent incident where a young girl was raped by a group of Asian men in Bradford. The BNP seized on this, claiming that paedophilia was “part of their religion”. Phil Edwards, spokesperson for the BNP, went on to say “I’m not sure exactly what it is, I don’t know that much about their religion and really I don’t want to.” Nick Griffin even spent the weekend trying to find further evidence of this.
Now, I don’t know that much about Islam, other than what I studied for GCSE RE and from what I’ve picked up during two years living in Bradford, but I’m pretty sure that is definitely not the case. But the BNP have tried to use this as a campaign vehicle – in fact, Channel 5 recently insisted that a BNP party political broadcast which featured these allegations should be censored.
I can preach all I want here about how bad the BNP are, and believe me, I have several hours of material to bring up, but unless people actually know that the BNP are nothing more than a bunch of thugs they will continue to get support. And that’s why I’ve been getting involved in the UAF. With any luck, when the poll results come out on Friday, the BNP will have been defeated and our work will have paid off.
Until next year.