Over the past few weeks, Liverpool Antifascists have put in considerable effort leafletting and campaigning in Fazakerley ahead of tomorrow's By-Election. It has seemed an uphill struggle, given the considerable man-hours the BNP were putting into their campaign and the utter disregard for the ward from the other parties.
However, our message was never in support of any other party, and certainly not of the status quo - it was a warning to voters that the BNP is not the solution it pretends to be. If nothing else, this message has rattled the BNP themselves, who felt the need to deliver a scrappy, poorly-written response to our leaflet.
It begins thus;
You may have recently received an anti BNP leaflet through your door. That leaflet was delivered by a government financed organization called the antifascists/UAF (United Against Fascism Freedom). The UAF is a backdoor LABOUR PARTY state-funded anti-democratic outfit that has been set up with the intention of interfering with the political process. Lies, smears, violence and the tampering with ballot boxes are some of their usual activities.
Liverpool Antifascists are, of course, an autonomous group with no connection to UAF or the Labour Party. We certainly aren't state funded, all our fund-raising and campaigning being done at grass-roots level by volunteer activists. It needn't be stated that this is lies, setting the tone for a desperate leaflet not to keen on facts.
The idea that we (or even UAF, for that matter) "organise Muslim protests against our homecoming troops" is a fallacy that shouldn't even need rebutting. Liverpool Antifascists' stance, for one, is crystal clear: "Fascism & Fundamentalism - Two Sides of the Same Coin!" However, this obviously ridiculous lie sets the tone for the more serious accusation that follows;
Last year on St. George’s Day a group of our members – many of them ELDERLY – were attacked in broad daylight behind the St. George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre. One of the convicted below is a LABOUR PARTY SPONSORED thug who PLEADED GUILTY to an attack on the BNP, at Liverpool magistrate’s court on Thursday 29th October 2009.
In fact, it was BNP activists Peter Tierney and Steve Greenhalgh who perpetrated the assault. Tierney's weapon of choice was a camera tripod, with which he succeeded in splitting an anti-fascist's head open. As for the idea that "all of this was caught on CCTV and would exonerate the BNP, it's funny how that evidence never surfaced at the trial of the accused anti-fascist (who is neither with UAF, nor Labour party-sponsored). As previously reported, both assault and criminal damage charges were thrown out as untenable and he "pleaded guilty" to a breach of section 5 of the Public Order Act - essentially, swearing in public!
The leaflet contains a picture of the anti-fascist in question under the caption "GUILTY OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BNP OAP'S." This is a clear case of libel by the British National Party.
After all of this nonsense, the leaflet then attempts to "debunk" some of the actual content of our leaflet. The first offering is this;
You will also be fed lies about a BNP protest against the TUC; which contrary to what you may have heard, was not against the TUC’s action for opposing low pay and privatisation – we actually AGREE on that. Our protest was against the TUC spreading lies about the BNP and using member’s money for political intimidation and discrimination against employees based on their political beliefs. Unlike the TUC the British national Party believes in free speech for EVERYONE.
This, too, is a pathetic attempt at damage limitation. Merseyside BNP, a month before the conference, publicly declared their intent to campaign "against the Anti British Communists who will be attending," positing that one Merseyside trade union leader "struts around in a communist uniform whilst hero worshiping[sic] the Russian mass murderer Stalin." Also noteworthy is that, although they insist they agree on opposition to low pay and privatisation (the BNP has never commented about a single workers' issue that did not involve immigrants or foreigners) it was the march against these things where they handed out leaflets, taking photos of marchers with captions such as "say cheese you Communist anti British traitor." Which is precisely the attitude towards workers that we were pointing out.
Following that, the leaflet offered this novel piece of reasoning;
These liars lie to you by saying we blame migrants for British people being unemployed; however this is a complete LIE. The BNP blames the politicians who are encouraging the migrants to come here and then allowing them to be used and abused by greedy employers. The BNP just supports a fair deal for British people.
One of my comrades at Liverpool Antifascists has already dealt with this question previously;
Parties such as the BNP aim to gain control by turning the working class in on itself. Their distinction between migrant workers and British workers is no different than that between agency and non-agency workers, permanent and temporary workers, or (going back to the turn of the 20th Century) female and male workers. The more vulnerable group is the most heavily exploited, working for buttons and with few rights, so as to undercut the more established and organised group, rolling back their hard-won rights.
But this is not the fault of the more vulnerable group, and the answer is not to remove them from the workplace. “British Jobs for British Workers” may have an instant appeal to those put out of work by bosses who exploit migrants (not by migrants, which is an important distinction) but it makes as much sense as calling for “Male Jobs for Male Workers.” It serves to strengthen the distinction and division, from which only the bosses benefit. History teaches us that this approach is destructive, whilst uniting all workers – regardless of race, gender, nationality, or any other distinguishing feature – to demand fair pay and conditions for all is the only way to win battles.
The BNP may indeed "blame politicians," but they do so in such a way that they still distinguish migrants as "other" and to be opposed. Constant talk of "flood" and "invasion" on both the national BNP website and the Merseyside blog belie the idea from the leaflet that the party recognises that migrants are "used and abused."
From that, the leaflet moves on to the subject of hate crime;
Another ‘story’ you have been told is that police statistics show that race crime rises when the BNP is elected. The police themselves deny this and state that in many areas we are elected race crimes actually FALL – again the LABOUR PARTY is exposed as lying to you.
Leaving aside the nonsense that Liverpool Antifascists has anything to do with the Labour Party, we find the central claim torn apart in this article from the Guardian;
Reports of racial and religiously motivated crime rose following the election of British National party councillors in several far- right strongholds, police statistics have revealed.
Complaints of hate crime increased in wards in the West Midlands, London and Essex after the election of a BNP member, in spite of declines in reported hate crime in the wider police areas. In other wards race crime reportedly rose in the runup to BNP election victories, according to the figures, obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.
The BNP has tried to mask this by pointing to areas where rates have fallen. However, this is nothing to do with BNP elections and rather falls in-line with declines far beyond their constituencies. Not to mention that such declines are outnumbered by BNP areas where hate crimes have increased.
The leaflet ends by urging readers "please, don’t be duped by Labour’s lie machine." I would of course second this idea, whilst adding a plea that people aren't duped by the BNP lie machine either. As the Liverpool Antifascists By-Election leaflet points out, "a vote for the BNP is not a protest vote. It is a vote for fascism."