Socialist Party documents

Perspectives for Britain and the world 2009

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Racism and the far right

A vital factor in the link to youth work is the struggle against racism, fascism and particularly the rise of the BNP.

While we have long predicted this economic crisis, we also pointed out that the left would not necessarily immediately gain unless it had a mass pole of attraction in place.

On the contrary, the far right could make inroads. Up to now, the BNP has been on the margins of British politics but their success in getting one London assembly member elected is a warning as to what could take place in the next period, despite their recent infighting.

The absence of a mass workers' party in Britain and the opportunities that this could give to the BNP in the short term is illustrated by comparing Britain to Germany.

There, the Left party has become the natural reference point for those moving away from right-wing social democracy and looking for a left alternative.

The Left party has succeeded, at least on the electoral plane, in cutting off the road, for the time being, to the far right, although the murderous activity of the different Nazi groups in Germany cannot be underestimated.

The failure of the Left party to capitalise on its position by deepening its roots in the working class, which naturally means extending its position from an electoral basis into an active fighting force, may give opportunities to the far right.

In Britain and in some other countries in Europe, the far right can make headway in the short term, electorally in particular, because many, even workers, who formerly were behind the banner of labour or social democracy, could turn to the far right in 'protest' against the right-wing policies of the former workers' parties.

For some years the BNP has been making a conscious effort to attract this layer through 'left'-sounding rhetoric about rights for workers, even arguing for what they call 'socialism' (i.e. state ownership and control) in the NHS, and renationalisation of the railways and energy companies.

The question of a mass, left, working-class alternative is urgent.

In the meantime, it is not excluded that the BNP could build on their success in London and make headway in the European elections, partly depending upon whether a general election takes place before then and the outcome of that election.

For instance, if the Tories manage to creep into power, as in the past that would tend to undercut the BNP, particularly if, as is likely in the midst of a deep recession, the Tories, as they already have under the 'liberal' Cameron, flirt with racist, anti-immigrant demagogy, including taking even more brutal action to prevent some immigrants from entering the country.

So far the leading members of the BNP have had to limit themselves to populist electioneering, rather than attempting to build a street-fighting force along the lines of classical fascist parties, in order to attract support and avoid being politically driven underground as they were in the mid-1990s.

Nothing can be taken for granted. The BNP could score further successes and this could act this time as a crack of thunder, particularly motivating young people to fight them, racism and fascism in Britain.

Therefore, Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) will have an important role to play in providing an organised channel to resist the far right and the neo-Nazis and a class-based alternative to the "no politics" of many anti-racist/fascist groups.

The BNP represents that element of counter-revolution in British society which could whip up a counter-movement, not least amongst the youth, who would seriously seek to confront them, both electorally and 'on the streets'.

The approach of the SWP, allied to the trade union bureaucracy in Unite Against Fascism (UAF), is a sectarian and, often, a completely blatant disruptive one.

We have described their methods in the East Midlands, both in the paper and in material in the book on the SWP.

The tail-ending, in particular, of New Labour and the trade union leadership who go along with this is summed up in their slogan 'Vote against the BNP'.

This implies that it is possible to combat the BNP by implicitly suggesting people vote for New Labour but the conditions that nurture the BNP and have allowed it to grow have arisen from diseased British capitalism, presided over in the last 12 years by New Labour.

We have to make clear that we stand in the interests of all sections of workers so as not to cut ourselves off from layers of the white working class.

However, the question of attracting and integrating black and Asian young people in particular is a vital task for the next period.

While many black, Asian and other ethnic groups have tended to participate in the general struggles of the working class in the past period, nevertheless the issue of racism still scars British capitalist society.

Uniting together as a class is necessary but it is also vital to take up the specific injustices inflicted on blacks, Asians and other ethnic groups.

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