Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/542/6292
'Dear Boris' - we will NOT be silenced!
Campaigning at London's Rise festival
The Rise festival has been an anti-racist festival for years, sponsored by London's trade unions. But this year, new Tory mayor Boris Johnson declared that the festival shall no longer have its anti-racist theme. Campaigning and left-wing organisations were banned from the festival programme. The racist British National Party gloated at what they see as a victory.
Unions withdrew their funding in protest. The Socialist Party and International Socialist Resistance mounted protest stalls outside. We made big banners declaring 'Boris - we will NOT be silenced!' which we stuck up on the walls of the park. We produced blank 'Dear Boris' letters for people to send a message to Boris, and made two red 'Dear Boris' post boxes.
Festival-goers of all ages, outraged at Boris's high-handed actions, crowded round our stalls to sign the petitions and post their letters. Over 60 letters were posted in our post boxes (only 11 of them are not printable!). Many others signed our petition and donated. We'll be sending the lot off to Boris and demanding a response.
Some London trade union bodies are now discussing holding an alternative anti-racist, anti-BNP event next year, which would be a big step forward in the fight against racism and the far-right.
We also sold 70 copies of The Socialist, raised £65 towards our campaigning work, and ten people wanted more information about joining the Socialist Party.
Some of the 'Dear Boris' letters:
"You won't stop people from having a voice. We are all awake and aware of our existence and we are going to fight for our freedom of speech and expression."
"Racism still needs fighting, it hasn't gone away... If you don't make the fight explicit, you are implicitly endorsing racism."
"Bring back the anti-racism theme to Rise - it's badly needed seeing as the BNP are on the rise."
"Your decision... is not welcomed by us and all those Londoners who are proud to make a stand against racism. Why are you so afraid to make a stand?"
"Give yourself a pay cut, think of your everyday people. If you live on an average income you may be a better representative."
"Please go back to Eton and stay there!"
In The Socialist 16 July 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and analysis
The Socialist Comment
Socialist Party review