Pulling the Plug on the Nazis

Issue section: 

At the Marxism 2003 event anti-racist activist Asad Rehman talked, quite rightly, of the BNP's shift to focusing on northern England, largely as a result of the resistance the Nazis have faced every time they tried to rear their heads in east London.

There are a number of examples today that point to the possibility of the Nazis being faced down in the same way in the north.

In the Nazis' target area of the north west, the Barrow-in-Furness Anti Nazi League (ANL) campaign - stamping on the first sign of Nazi activity - led to what anti-fascist magazine Searchlight referred to as the biggest internal crisis within the BNP for years.

Responding to exposure of the real fascist face of the BNP, Barrow Nazi candidate Charles Bickerstaffe tried to defend himself as non-racist by declaring his love for his mixed-race grandchildren. When this was printed in the Nazis' paper Freedom, some BNP branches burnt their copies, tore out the offending article, or refused to sell the issue. It also appears that many members left the BNP and that there were calls for Bickerstaffe's expulsion. This should be used to expose the BNP's lies of being a non-racist party.

None of this would have happened without the routine ANL campaigning which set these events in motion. The Nazis retreated from their intention of standing in Barrow's election, and they have been defeated on many levels in the town. For example, for a considerable period, they were leaving their leaflets in telephone boxes here - at the time of writing, this has now dried up.

Contrary to the criticisms we received - that we were 'drawing attention to them', 'giving them credence', etc - the approach of dealing with fascism at an early stage has been vindicated. And, far from being complacent, we are building on the campaign. All of which is an example that the Nazis can be beaten, not only in one north west town, but elsewhere too.

Paul Jenkins