Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/165/7862
Copeland - questions that need answers
A HUGE sigh of relief went up when the jury's verdict was announced against David Copeland. The man who planted nail bombs in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho last year had not got away with pleading diminished responsibility.
From the outset it was clear the bomb attacks were motivated by racist or Nazi beliefs. But the police were terrified that the mood of revulsion and anger produced by the attacks would grow into mass protests and a revival of a large-scale movement against the Nazis.
After the huge movements against the Nazis in the early-mid 1990s, the police desperately wanted to stop a similar movement developing beyond their control.
The police's political agenda meant they failed to follow up lines of inquiry, such as the death threat faxed to an anti-racist organisation in Brixton the day before the Brixton nail bomb. They then took almost two weeks to release the CCTV footage which led to Copeland's arrest.
After the arrest police concealed Copeland's membership of the British National Party in order to prevent further anger developing.
Even now the emphasis of the judicial system and the press is on Copeland's being "evil" and carrying out the attacks alone. This makes it into a moral question and shifts attention away from the real issues: how did he become a Nazi bigot and how can we prevent others perpetrating similar atrocities?
Copeland's case opens the lid on the violent racism and homophobia which still exist in Britain. The easy 'answers' and prejudices put forward by Nazi groups attract some people into the dead end of fascism.
However, Nazis and people who carry out racist or homophobic attacks are not born that way; they are formed by the society they live in.
The homophobic propaganda and racist lies spread by the media are as guilty as David Copeland for the crimes he committed. The government's inability to genuinely eradicate areas of discrimination and prejudice stems from their acceptance of capitalism and support for big business.
The united movement which followed the nail bomb attacks was much more effective at exposing and isolating the Nazis behind the attacks than any number of recent government statements or initiatives.
To cut the ground away from the fascists, socialists must step up campaigning on economic and social issues and link the fight against prejudice to the fight for a democratic socialist society to provide for the needs of all.
In The Socialist 7 July 2000: