Thursday, 27 August 2009

The ongoing struggle against fascism on Merseyside

The Merseyside branch of the British National Party has always been something of a ramshackle operation. After a burst of activity during the European elections, which saw a round rejection of BNP politics in Liverpool and Chairman Nick Griffin elected as an MEP only due to low overall voter turnout and high BNP turnout, especially in their Oldham stronghold, the branch has been remarkably quiet. Even the arraignment of Peter Tierney for assault charges and the promise of an anti-fascist protest to disrupt couldn't mobilise them.

However, the BNP are not the only fascist group on Merseyside, though with the support of twenty-five members at a push they might be the largest. As I reported after the protest at Tierney's arraignment, the only turnout in favour of Tierney came from four photo-happy fascists believed to be with the British Freedom Fighters (BFF). It now seems that this presumption was correct, at least based on the bellicose nonsense offered up on White Nationalist forum Stormfront;

Note that, after his "clever" remarks about the "mass of UAF idiots built up of local tranvestities, spastics and the odd student who hasn't got a life to back to during summer," Pino88 announces that "I'll be back on the 15th with some BFF again to see if the Reds want to have a proper go this time." Given that, at the last protest, "having a go" consisted of shouting inaudible jeers at the "Reds" from across the road, I would suggest that anybody attending the next protest has no need to fear any violence.

Speaking of the next protest, Tierney is due to attend court on September 3rd in order to enter a plea. Merseyside Coalition Against racism and Fascism (MCARF) and Liverpool Anti-Fascists are among the groups who will be picketing the hearing. We are calling upon all local anti-fascists and concerned citizens to join in and show that we will not stand for violence on our streets. Everybody is advised to arrive and leave in groups and perhaps to arrange rallying points where you can meet and head to the demo together. It is vital that the people of Liverpool show a united front in the face of increased violence from the fascists of the BNP. We encourage as many people as possible to come along, and to bring banners, friends and your voices with you.

September also sees the arrival of the first Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Liverpool in over 100 years. With "Greater regulation of the economy, increased public spending, quality pensions for all and the building of one million new affordable homesare" on an agenda built around workers' rights and protections, it is clear that - whatever the faults of the big unions in terms of hierarchy and unelected bureaucracy - this is a conference which gives the working class a voice at a time when they are most adversely affected by the continuing economic crisis.

Thus, the BNP's claims to being a party of the working class in Britain evaporate with the announcement that they will be "actively campaign[ing]" at the conference "against the Anti British Communists [sic] who will be attending." As MCARF points out, "On the local BNP blog a campaign has been run against local trade unionists, which is especially ironic considering the long history of trade unionism on Merseyside which has won many victories and fought campaigns for the people. The local BNP branch has long shown that they are opposed to the rights of workers and this action confirms it." MCARF declare that the TUC conference will be preceded by a "Time to Fight Back" march, beginning at Liverpool's Pier Head at 12:30pm on the 13th September. As effective anti-fascism is inextricably tied into class struggle, I would urge that all dedicated anti-fascists and labour activists on Merseyside do their best to attend.

The BNP, as fascists, seek to replace the global capitalist economy not with an economy guided by cooperative worker self-management, but by a corporatist system in which the interests of capital are tied to the state. In calling for protectionist measures in favour of British corporations and repealing equality legislation, hard-won by a century of class struggle to prevent capitalists from increasing oppression by turning different sections of the working class against one another, the BNP show themselves up as the party of isolationist state-capitalism which undoes the victories of the labour movement whilst throwing illusory sops to the working class.

The BNP, then, have shown themselves capable only of bringing violence and hate to our streets whilst working steadily to undermine the working class despite claiming to oppose the status quo. Clearly, as well as struggling in favour of the working class against the interests of the state and big business, it remains vitally important that we continue to stand in opposition to the BNP and other fascist groups wherever and whenever they may emerge.