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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 November 2006

Courts cannot fight far right

NICK GRIFFIN, leader of the far-right, racist British National Party (BNP) has been acquitted of charges of behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred at Leeds Crown Court on 9 November.

Griffin was accused after a TV documentary showed him and BNP publicity chief Mark Collett speaking in a meeting in Yorkshire where speakers called Islam "a wicked, vicious faith" that "has expanded from a handful of crazy lunatics".

The press have been stirring up Islamophobia, the hatred of all things Muslim, especially after the horrific London bombings in July 2005. Muslims in particular feel themselves increasingly under siege. Many people will be furious that Griffin and Collett got away with such attacks.

Griffin denied he was a racist - he was, he claimed, a "religionist". The BNP and other far-right or neo-fascist organisations adapt their slogans in public to avoid falling foul of the anti-race hatred laws. In private they will be viciously racist.

As the televised speech showed, the BNP 'religionists' were calling Asians 'muggers, rapists and cockroaches' who "should be shown the door". The BNP, however, cannot hide the divisive nature of their political ideas.

Unfortunately, the policy of taking BNP politicians to the capitalist courts on race-hate charges was always likely to fail and could even be counter-productive. Collett claimed after the court case that the BNP were being victimised for 'telling the truth'.

Laws passed by capitalist governments against far-right or fascist groups have always been double-edged. The 1936 Public Order Act, introduced because of the activities of Oswald Mosley and his vicious British Union of Fascists, made it an offence to use threatening and abusive words. However, this law was used most often against left-wing opponents of fascism.

The capitalist state - courts, police etc. - has the main purpose of defending property and stopping anyone who threatens it. In the longer term, trusting the state to fight fascist or far-right parties is highly dangerous.

At present the BNP try falsely to portray themselves as a party for white workers, taking up some Old Labour demands. The New Labour government's betrayal of working-class people's hopes and the lack of a mass workers' party which could provide a class-based political opposition to their attacks on jobs, pay, conditions and services has given their verbal opposition some impact.

For socialists, the best way of fighting the threat of fascism is to confront it - first of all by exposing the false nature of the BNP's 'radicalism'. The working-class movement needs to lead a campaign to build a new workers' party that would unite workers together to fight for the decent jobs, housing and other services we need and against the capitalist system that breeds racism, inequality and division.

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Far right:

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