Thursday, 4 June 2009

June 4th: Merseyside Against Fascism

One common response to anti-BNP and anti-fascist campaigns is the question of alternatives. People are turning to the likes of the BNP because they are disillusioned with the mainstream parties and alienated by their policies, so they do not want to vote for them. In which case, who do they vote for if the BNP are so bad?

The anti-fascist movement is divided on this question. Most are unwilling to give an answer, suggesting that anybody is better than the BNP. This stance, encouraging people to vote against the BNP but refusing to give a political context, is one supported by Hope not Hate and Unite Against Fascism. On the other hand, groups such as the Anti-Nazi League and some sections of UAF are funded by the Socialist Workers' Party, and the SWP regularly have stalls at anti-fascist events to promote their party. The unions still suggest that Labour is the best of a bad bunch, and their historic ties with the working class (as well as the funding they receive from the unions) means that they, unlike other parties, can still be influenced in a positive way. Antifa, meanwhile, take an altogether different line;
Voting is something that allows the State to pretend we live in a democracy, and it is a tactic used by fascist parties such as the British National Party to promote themselves and their policies. While the BNP may be in a position to throw bricks through the windows of a few Asian households, it is New Labour that is locking up refugees and bombing Iraqi civilians. It is ridiculous to suggest that voting helps to stop fascism. This is the sort of insult to working class communities that has allowed the BNP to grow. This is the case whether we are being told to vote for the old Statist parties or opportunist fronts, such as Respect™, which has helped to promote bigotry (sexism and homophobia) in order to further the agenda of its leadership. The problems that allow racism and fascism to flourish will not be solved simply by voting for parties which mask their fascism slightly more cleverly than the BNP, nor for some middle-class tourist standing on a Left-Wing ticket.
To a degree, their assertion is correct. Putting an "x" next to one or other box on a ballot paper will not change the way the country is run, and it will not fix the problems we face in our everyday lives. For that, we need much more. In order to see real change, we need massive, grassroots organisation amongst the working class and to build a large base of activism from the bottom up. We will not see real, substantial change by politely asking our preferred candidate for it by voting them in, but by snatching it from the ruling class through direct action.

However, I would not use this fact to argue that we should not vote. It will not bring about revolutionary change, and "the best of a bad bunch" is still a very poor choice, but it can help us keep the absolute worst of that bad bunch - namely, the British National Party - out of power.

This does not mean I am going to tell you who to vote for. The outcome of this election is based on proportional representation, rather than the First Past the Post system that keeps Labour and the Conservatives embedded in parliament, and so tactical voting is not necessary. The BNP need 8% of the vote to gain their first MEP, so what is necessary is that people vote, and that 93% or more do not vote for them. The higher the turnout, the less likely they are to succeed. Thus, my suggestion is not to "vote for anybody" but rather to go with your conscience and vote for the people you think are closest to your own political alignment. Don't be taken in by the lies of the BNP, but likewise don't think that opposing them means you have to support Labour or the Conservatives.

However you use your vote today, say NO to the BNP in Liverpool!