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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 July 2009

Lincoln fights back against racist BNP

ON 11 July, over 100 people marched through Lincoln city centre to oppose racism and the far-right British National Party (BNP). Lincoln trades council, together with local NUT and PCS unions, called the demonstration.

Nick Parker

The protest was in response to the recent election of two BNP MEPs, over 1,500 people in Lincoln voting BNP in the European elections and the record number (23) of candidates who stood in the Lincolnshire county council elections for the BNP.

The vibrant and noisy march, chanting "stop the BNP, what we need is unity" and "jobs and homes not racism, stop the BNP!", gained support from most passers-by. Hundreds of leaflets were given out to people curious about what was taking place.

A rally after the demonstration heard speeches from representatives of organisations supporting the campaign. Dave Tompkins, from Lincolnshire Socialist Party, exposed the BNP's hypocritical stance to public services.

The BNP in Halifax campaigned for free bus passes for the elderly before this was government policy, only to vote with the Tories when in a position of power, to oppose their introduction. Dave called for a new party to campaign to protect and improve public services for all working-class people disillusioned with the mainstream political parties.

Graham Lewis spoke from Derby Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, which is involved in the campaign against the BNP's Red, White and Blue (RWB) festival in Codnor, Derbyshire. He told of the violence and intimidation that local residents experienced from those attending the RWB festival, and appealed to everyone to join the counter-demonstration against this year's RWB festival on 15 August.

I [Nick Parker] spoke as a local representative of the PCS union and outlined the cuts, privatisation, wealth inequality, expenses scandals and bank subsidies, supported by New Labour and the Tories, that drove many people to vote BNP. The recent PCS conference decision to consult PCS members about standing independent pro-worker candidates in elections has come at just the right time to challenge the BNP.

A tiny BNP counter-demonstration had formed to oppose the rally and unfurled a St Georges' flag with BNP written on it. A Unison member then explained that the BNP supporters might be a little uncomfortable with St George's Turkish origins!

Several people got on the megaphone to explain what was going on to passers-by. Trade unions are not just against racism and division, but also for more jobs and improvements in public services and pay for all workers. The BNP supporters left with their tails between their legs, and there was an impromptu march back up the high street so demonstrators could disperse in safety.

The local media publicity of the campaign has already encouraged two union branches to seek affiliation to the trades' council. This coverage, whilst welcome, mainly focused afterwards on the stand-off between pro-BNP and anti-BNP protesters.

It should not detract from the generally peaceful and inclusive event which we hope will be the springboard for a united campaign against the BNP before the next general election.

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In The Socialist 22 July 2009:

Corus... Vestas... Defend every job!


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Vestas: Support the occupation

Vestas jobs fightback

Action to save steel jobs at Corus


Unison witchhunt

Defend the Four: Protest at the Unison witch-hunt

Unison witch-hunt verdict causes outrage amongst trade unionists


Youth fight for jobs

Youth fight for jobs fortnight of action


Workplace news

National strike action to halt attacks on workers and our postal services

Tube workers' action wins concessions

South Yorkshire First Buses strike over pay

London Met Uni strike

Every little helps Tesco's as they attack workers

Teachers strike against job cuts

Care homes public meeting


Pensions

Union action to fight the attacks on our pensions

Pensions - in brief

Pensions: We say


Anti-racism

BNP get police to arrest socialists

Lincoln fights back against racist BNP

Stop the BNP's 'festival' of hate

Rock Against Racism


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Build the Tamil Solidarity campaign

Devon residents against incinerators: Alternative waste schemes needed

Another stepping stone towards health privatisation


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Comment

40th anniversary of the moon landing What steps has humanity taken?


 

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