Stopping the BNP from meeting

Stopping the BNP from meeting in Salford

Twice in the last few weeks we have managed by mobilising mass protests to stop the BNP from holding meetings in Salford.

Three weeks ago, we received notice that the BNP was intending to hold a “public meeting” at Salford’s town hall.

On behalf of my Unison branch, I contacted the election Returning Officer and was told that the council had a duty to facilitate the meeting because the BNP was standing a candidate in the Weaste and Seedley byelection (in which the Socialist Party is supporting anti-Bedroom Tax campaigner and Socialist Party member Terry Simmons who is standing for TUSC).

We told the council that we would mobilise to prevent the meeting from taking place and within a day they had found a reason to cancel it.

The reason used was that the BNP had stated that it did not want elected councillors from other parties to attend and therefore it wasn’t a public meeting. This reason wasn’t given until we pressured the council.

Second attempt

In response to this cancellation the BNP then attempted to hold another meeting on Thursday 12th June at another council building, Turnpike House – this time declaring that it would be a fully-open public meeting.

Again we protested to the council, who this time told us they were powerless to do anything. In response I told the council that if it was a public meeting, access could not be refused and we then started to make plans to obstruct the meeting from the very start.

Word obviously got to the BNP, as two hours before the meeting they cancelled it and changed the venue to a new secret location somewhere in the city.

The actions of socialists, anti-racists and trade unionists had forced them to pull their meeting.

Even though the meeting was cancelled we still assembled at Turnpike House to celebrate the result. We wanted to show the BNP that Turnpike House was our building and our workplace and that we would not allow them to organise in it or any other public building in Salford.

Working class solidarity can stop the BNP from organising openly. The task now is to challenge their ideas and the system that allows their ideas to be heard.

That is why the Socialist Party takes part in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) – because we need to lay the basis for a new mass workers’ party that will genuinely stand up for working class people.

Steven North

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 June 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.