Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/645/10564
We need jobs, homes and services - not racism
Anti-racists and socialists don't shed any tears for Nick Griffin when the British National Party (BNP) leader is again called to court to defend his organisation's racist membership rules.
Ross Saunders, Cardiff East Socialist Party
The far-right racist BNP has been plagued by internal problems including the expulsion of Richard Barnbrook, formerly the only BNP member in the London Assembly.
Anti-racist campaigners welcome the BNP's setbacks. But we also recognise that the campaign to defeat the far right in Britain is far from over. The social conditions which the far right exploits still exist - the crisis in housing, jobs and public services and the fact that working class people are still without a real political voice of their own.
The Tory/Liberal coalition government is stepping up attacks on the working class. The BNP has not suffered a permanent defeat, and other organisations are emerging which potentially pose an even more serious threat to ethnic minority groups and the wider working class.
English Defence League (EDL) members have organised racist protests targeting Muslims, have attempted to disrupt May Day demonstrations organised by trade unionists and have attacked labour movement meetings. It is therefore crucial that the anti-racist movement develops an effective strategy for fighting the far right.
We must build anti-racist campaigns that are rooted in the organisations of the working class and in local communities and expose these racists as incapable of solving social problems. In the face of the most savage attacks on its living standards in a generation, the working class is today developing its own, genuine, united "defence leagues," by building local anti-cuts committees to coordinate the fight to save jobs and services. We must explain that the divisive ideas of groups like the EDL or the BNP would strike a killing blow to the campaigns against cuts.
Anti-racist campaigns can include a range of different political opinions. But to uncritically give a platform to those who have been involved in cutting the living standards of those angry, disillusioned working class people to which the EDL etc are trying to appeal is a mistake which weakens the anti-racist movement.
For instance, New Labour politicians like Margaret Hodge and Peter Hain are given a platform to speak by Unite Against Fascism, despite the fact that New Labour's willingness to make public sector cuts is among the root causes of the rise in support for the far right.
Previously, instead of calling for adequate housing for all, Hodge has called for so-called 'indigenous' families to be prioritised on the housing list in her Barking and Dagenham constituency. This legitimises the lie that it is immigrants who are responsible for the housing crisis - actually the result of a criminal failure by the previous Labour and Tory governments to build council housing.
A massive programme of house-building should be carried out to provide jobs and homes for all and a stimulus to the economy.
Such a programme sounds decidedly out of tune with the cuts-chorus of the three main parties. The issue of housing and all the other cuts policies of the capitalist politicians lay the basis for the social crisis in which growing support for the far right is rooted, and this should be discussed and recognised in the anti-racist movement.
Tory, Labour and Liberal politicians want ordinary people to pay for the crisis, while groups like the BNP are more concerned about using the recession for their own racist agenda. But it wasn't Muslims, or asylum seekers who caused the recession, and it wasn't public sector workers or ordinary working class people either - it was the bankers, the politicians who gave them free reign to run our economy like their own private casino and the short-sighted capitalist system of production for profit which they support.
The far right have no solutions to offer to working class people defending themselves against these attacks: the anti-racist movement must make sure that it does.
Debate: How can we defeat the far right?
Sunday 7 November 1-3pm
Room 3E, University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY
Speakers: Ross Saunders, Socialist Party Wales; Unite Against Fascism (invited). Part of Socialism 2010 - see www.socialism2010.net for more details
In The Socialist 3 November 2010:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis