Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/533/4106
The BNP have no solutions...
...and no clue!
Protesters confront BNP GLA assembly member Richard Barnbrook, photo Bob Severn
On the morning of 9 May our second protest against the British National Party (BNP) took place as the newly elected Greater London Assembly met for the first time since the election on 1 May. Called by International Socialist Resistance and Youth against Racism in Europe the protesters arrived at City Hall at 9am.
Paula Mitchell and Suzanne Beishon
We were immediately presented with a golden opportunity when the BNP assembly member Richard Barnbrook emerged from City Hall to have his photo taken.
Surrounding him with our placards, we were described in the press as "jeering at him". Yes, we did a lot of chanting, but for the benefit of any workers or youth who may see the protest on the news, we also put the case that the BNP have no solutions to the problems we face.
Barnbrook wanted to be smooth and politician-like in front of the press and took care not to say anything about immigrants or representing white people.
He tried to undercut our position, claiming to be against cuts and privatisation. Had we seen his budget for Barking and Dagenham with a 0% council tax rise?
Protest against the BNP after the Greater London Assembly elections, photo Sarah Mayo
Yes we had seen it - the zero council tax increase is achieved by over £5 million of cuts to children's services, translation services etc! And what about the BNP councillors in Stoke or Kirklees who voted for cuts and privatisation and tax increases - or don't even bother to turn up to the council chambers?
Barnbrook handily didn't know anything about that. So we explained it to him - the BNP pretend to be the party for the white working class but when they get in the council chamber they preside over cuts, the same as the three main parties.
He claimed to support ordinary workers' fight for decent pay, saying he is a teacher. Was he on strike alongside his fellow teachers fighting for decent pay? No, he's not in a union.
Barnbrook had the temerity to claim to be a better representative of workers than Arthur Scargill (miners' union leader in the 1980s strike) and Derek Hatton (deputy leader of Liverpool city council in the 1980s, when it was led by Militant supporters), repeating the poisonous lies of the capitalist press against both.
Real alternative needed
But we told him that when socialists ran Liverpool City council they built thousands of houses, created thousands of jobs and built a mass movement of the community and trade unions in Liverpool to fight for more resources from Thatcher's government - something the BNP could never achieve.
We said: "There needs to be a massive fight for decent pay, against cuts and privatisation, to defend jobs and services. To do that working people need to unite against our common enemy, the big business bosses.
"But the BNP will never do that, all they do is create division, set one worker against another. We do need a party for working-class people, but not a racist party like his - we need a new party capable of uniting all working-class people."
London meeting: How can we build a campaign against the BNP?
7pm 20 May, University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London WC1
Called by International Socialist Resistance and Youth against Racism in Europe
In The Socialist 14 May 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party review